Glimpses. 22 Deblois Street

Built ca 1910 for Frederic Dudley. Design by Miller and Mayo.

An imposing Colonial Revival in the Longfellow Highlands neighborhood.

   It sits up there. Looming over us down here on the street. Although not a beauty from an architectural standpoint, it is a solid design that relies on its sheer mass and siting to make a bold statement. Whether this is the intent of the architect or client is unclear and we will look at them in a bit more detail yet. 

Advertisement for the millworks business founded by Frank Dudley. 1910 Portland City Directory. Authors collection.

Frank Dudley was born in the “Lumber Capital of the World”, Bangor Maine in 1844. He entered the lumber business and was successful, being involved in businesses in Bangor, Montreal, Burlington Vermont, and finally, around 1896, settling in Portland. He had married Margaret Thompson in 1871. They had 9 children only 3 of whom survived into adulthood. Their only son, Frederic (k), built our subject house. Frank Dudley died in 1898. Margaret lived until 1945 when she was 98 years old. The family monument in Evergreen Cemetery is a massive piece that has a ton of symbolism going on.

Dudley monument in Evergreen Cemetery.

When they purchased the lot, Fred and Katherine Dudley had 3 children with another on the way. They had 2 more by 1912. 2 of their children, Fred Jr and Franklin, died before the age of ten. The lot they purchased was from the estate of James Deering. How they knew the architects, Miller and Mayo isn’t clear but William Miller may have designed the couples first home on Longfellow Street. Until 1908, the firm had worked out of offices in Lewiston. In that year, they relocated to Portland opening an office in the Hanson Block at the corner of Oak and Congress Streets. Our subject house is the firm’s sole domestic project in Portland.

22 Deblois Street in 1924. Maine Memory Network

The house measures 48′ x 37′ with a 40′ x 18′ service ell off the northwest corner. There is a substantial covered porch on the south side It originally had clapboard siding with very prominent quoins at the corners. The tall architrave was broken with a strong entablature. The dentils on the cornice are somewhat oversized. The entry portico also sported prominent quoining and dentils. Much of this detail is now lost to the suffocating effects of the current, poorly installed and thought out, vinyl siding. The chunky Doric columns, 2 freestanding and 4 engaged, are still there. But little of the original character remains.

Advertisement for the Delano Mill Company. Fred Dudley served as Treasurer. 1926 Portland City Directory. Author’s collection

Frederic Dudley went to Harvard University. He and Katherine married in 1899. They purchased a lot on Longfellow Street not far from our subject where they built a house in 1900. For unknown reasons, it was larger than their new house, they sold it in 1909 and built our subject. We’ll save their first house for another time. As noted, there is no clear connection between the Dudleys and Miller & Mayo Architects. William Miller was involved in several prominent buildings in the state so the Dudleys may have been familiar with his work. Regardless of how they met, that Miller & Mayo designed our subject is certain as the plans for it are in the possession of the Maine Historical Society.

A map of Portland created by Katherine Dudley in 1928 to ‘raise money for babies’. James E. Arsenault & Company

The Dudley’s lived at 22 Deblois through both wars and the Depression. Along the way, they buried 2 sons and a daughter. Fred went from being the treasurer of Delano Mills to being the Treasurer of the Cumberland Building and Loan Association. A position he held up to nearly the end of his life in 1964. Katherine sold 22 Deblois Street in 1965 and died in 1969.

One of the oddities of 22 Deblois Street is the fact that it is ‘landlocked’. There is no way to get within 50 feet of it with a car. Not to mention the house sits 10+ feet higher than the steeet. When built, our subject had no neighbors behind it on Highland Street but the lot described in the deed doesn’t include any mention of a right-of-way to Highland. The brick garage was added after 1924 as the Dudley’s owned a 3 car garage on Prospect Street at that time. Add in the lack of a link between the garage and the house and this seems to be a real issue. It is a puzzlement.

22 Deblois Street from Google Maps

Some of Miller and Mayo’s other Portland works.

22 Deblois Street is a single-family home. The condition is good.

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1 thought on “Glimpses. 22 Deblois Street

  1. R. Steven Thing

    My wife owns this house. We bought it in 1979 … which means we’ve been here over forty years. We are only the third family to have lived in it. We have the original blueprints for its construction … which are not exactly the same as it was built. We’ve made some improvements (upgraded electrical, natural gas furnace with thirteen zones, etc.) but, there is still a lot of deferred maintenance. Would be delighted to chat with you about this.. Would like to invite you to see it … but it is a mess … almost full up with boxes of stuff from our respective parents who passed-away fairly recently.

    Liked by 1 person


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