Built in 1875-76 for William G Hart. Thomas Wildes builder (possibly)
An attractive Second Empire in the Parkside neighborhood.
Welcome back! We’re starting April with a revisit of 256 State Street from April of 2016. A recent comment from the spouse of a former resident prodded me to take a look back. The photography is still mostly good and I certainly covered the architecture. What was lacking was the ‘story’ of who was here. So, with some new images to show off the recent paint job and a bit of video, let’s take another look.
I noted that Thomas Wildes may have built 256 State Street. There’s no record of him doing so and it’s certainly not his style. That being said, he may have built it to order for the Harts. He may not have had anything to do with it after the sale. Newspaper accounts do confirm he built the house that used to be next door on the corner of Sherman Street. Interestingly, he purchased the lot for this house, and the house that once stood next door, from the Preble heirs prior to purchasing the lot for 32 Sherman Street from Mary Preble Tucker in 1876. The Prebles were the grandchildren of Commodore Edward Preble and his wife Molly Deering. Their father, Edward Deering Preble, died in 1846 and their mother, Sophia, died in 1889. They, along with many other Deering heirs, inherited sections of the old ‘Deering pasture’ overlooking the marshes of Back Cove.
William Hart was born to a ship captain also named William and his wife Sarah in Portland in 1838. He married Lydia Manchester, who was 17, 1860 and she gave birth to a daughter, Eva, the following year. 2 months after giving birth, Lydia died of reasons I cannot determine. In December of 1871, William married Helen Kemp of Portland. They had 3 sons, Clarence, Percy, & Lester, between 1873 and 1881. William worked as a constable for several years. After the Great Fire, William took a job as the ‘vault keeper, sounds too much like ‘crypt keeper‘ if you ask me, for the Portland Safety Deposit Company which was part of the Portland Bank on Exchange Street. He remained in that role for over 2 decades.
In 1884, William Hart sold 256 State Street to a retired farmer from Poland named Daniel Atwood. Atwood had married his second wife, Mary Jane, in Haverhill MA the previous year. His son Adrian was a partner in Harris Atwood Wholesale Grocers on Commercial Street. Adrian lived with Daniel until his death from ‘brain disease’ in 1881. Daniel died of heart disease in 1895. Mary Jane inherited the property. Upon her death in 1918 it was inherited by Daniels family members who sold it to a travelling salesman for the Portland Stove Foundry named George H H Lawton.
George Lawton and Sadie Read were married in Deering in 1893. George was born in Portland in Portland in 1865 and Sadie in Deering in 1870. They had no children. In 1929, Lawton sold our subject to Cora Libby. Cora was born in Canada in 1881. She came to the US in 1890. According to the 1930 census, Cora married Clair Libby in Portland in 1896 when they both were 15-16 years-old. Clair worked for the Portland Terminal Company as an inspector. They had no children. In 1934, Cora cold 256 State Street to a clerk for the EE Corey Iron Company named Charles W Barbour.
Charles Barbour was born on a farm in Gray in 1883. Hos wife, Bertha, was born on a farm in Standish in 1885. They married in 1908. The Barbours had 2 sons before Bertha’s death in 1930 of unknown causes. Charles remarried in 1934. His second wife, Minta Soule, was a widow who lived with her mother on Danforth and worked in the HH Hay Drug Store on the lower end of Free Street. Charles sold 256 State Street in 1935.
256 State Street was purchased in 1935 by Erna T Granville. Erna and her husband Earle owned several rooming houses on Cumberland Avenue and rented rooms here along with living here themselves. Erna was born in Canaan Vermont in 1895 and Earle in Waterborough New Brunswick in 1904. This was Erna’s second marriage, the first ending in divorce. In 1952, Erna sold the property to Blanchard and Laurette Tollitson. The Tollitsons were Erna’s brother and sister-in-law. The next year, 256 State Street was sold to Abraham Finks. The Finks family operated clothing and shoe stores on Middle Street where One City Center now stands. FInks sold it that same year to Charles & Kouha Kamelas.
The Kamelas’ story is missing large portions. They 1950 census has them living on Grant Street and Charles running a ‘retail store’. The census states Charles was born in Turkey in 1894 and Kouha in Greece in 1902. They do not appear on any other census nor is there any immigration record. They do appear in various city directories going back to 1930. Charles had several run-ins with the authorities for selling alcohol to minors and selling above price controls. Kouha died in 1958 and Charles cold 256 State Street in 1960.
Theodore and Therese Barris were married in 1949 after meeting on a blind-date. Theodore was born in Oklahoma City 1921 and grew up in Wichita Kansas. Therese Bournival was born in Trois-Rivières Quebec in 1927. He served in the Marines and studied law before becoming a member of the Maine Bar in 1954. They had 6 children. They lived here until 1983 when they sold the property to a Jeffery Stevensen/Stevenson. Jeffery Stevensen/Stevenson, for whom I can find no information, purchased the property next door at 258 State Street in 1983 as well. By 1991, he was living in Cape Elizabeth and was renting 256 State Street. He sold 258 State that year to Friendship House. In 2000, Friendship House sold it to Susan Stanhope who gave her address as 256 State Street. There was still ‘buildings thereon’ noted on the deed. Stanhope sold it, with the buildings, in 2003 as it was when the current owners purchased at, along with 256 STate Street, in 2006.
256 State Street is listed as a single=family home. The condition is very good.
Hello, I lived in grant street until 1952. Then when I was 7 we moved to South Portland, my father who died in 2000, owned many multiple dwellings on the peninsula from the early 50’s until his death. Because of that background your Portland House Stories is very interesting for me. I often see familiar names both from prior generations and people known to my father and mother. Yours is clearly a labor of love as it is obviously a whole lot of work.. keep up the good work. I’m 77 now and living in Florida but manage to get to Portland on occasion.Thanks for having me on your list of readers. Ed Gillis.
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Thank You Very Much.