198_200 Spring Street

Built ca: 1827-33 by Benjamin Fickett

A much altered Federal in the West End Historic District

If it happened 140 years ago, is it still remuddling?

The origins of our subject are as hard to unravel as is the exterior. The first deed for it is from 1841 when Ezekiel Fickett, Benjamin’s son, transfer part of our subject to his sisters Elizabeth & Emily along with a codicils about access into the house, a shared well, and to the rear of the property. Benjamin Fickett did live on Spring after 1830 or so. The 1827 city directory listed him on Brackett and the 1834 directory showed him on Spring. That being said, I cannot find a document giving him possession of our subject.

Attempting to describe the dimensions of 198_200 Spring Street soon descends into madness. In an attempt to avoid this, I have chosen to include the city assessor’s sketch to show how crazy it all it is. The house is three stories in height with a full basement. Living space is calculated at 3900 square feet. That is probably the easiest thing to describe.

Augustus and Emily Fickett Beattie were living in the rear of our subject in 1847 when Elizabeth transferred her share to them. She died that same year In 1852 Ezekiel sold the front, 198 Spring, to Sarah and Martin Gerts(z). Martin was a carpenter and, as we shall see, had something to do with the current arrangement of the house.

Advertisement from the August 17 edition of the Eastern Argus. Newspapers.com

Charles Blake was a Portland native who was born in 1828. He married Adaline Swett, born in Massachusetts in 1817, in 1847. They had 2 children, Mary and Charles Jr. Charles senior was a joiner who made everything from cabinets to coffins to pianos.

Advertisement from the November 26, 1856 Eastern Argus. Newpapers.com

In October of 1870 neighborly relations, if there were any, between the Gerts and Blakes had broken down to a level that Sarah had taken Charles to court for ‘trespass quare clausum‘. This was a complicated affair that had to do with access rights that had been laid out in Ezekiel’s deed of 1841. The owners of both properties shared the main entry and the basement where there was a partition dividing the space. Gerts claimed that Blake had installed a fence that limited access to the front door, had removed the partition in the basement without approval, and had built a set of additions on the rear of the building that had reduced access to the rear from the deeded 8′ to 4’. I believe these additions to be segments A1, A2 & A3 on the assessor’s sketch.
Blake claimed the fence was to stop Gerts from using “his window to put coal in the basement”. He claimed that both parties had agreed to remove the partition in the basement but the Gerts had reneged on the agreement. The court found for Gerts. No dollar value for compensation. I believe that Martin Gerts built the section abutting Spring Street, A6 on the sketch, at this time to allow access to their property without using the main entry. In 1883, Charles Blake purchased the property from Sarah Gerts for $2500.

Charles Blake died of pneumonia in January of 1901. Mary Blake died of “traumatic blood poisoning”, probably sepsis, 2 days later. It wasn’t until 1907 that her estate sold 198_200 Spring Street. The purchaser was Samuel Colesworthy, a real estate dealer who lived next door. He transferred it to his son Alfred 7 months later.

In 1922 Alfred Colesworthy sold 198_200 Spring Street to Gertrude Burton. She was the wife of James Burton who managed various hotels in the city. 12 months later, she sold it to Frank Staples.

198_200 Spring Street in 1924. Maine Memory Network

As Frank Staples never lived here, he lived on Moody Street on ‘The Hill’, let’s look at some of the people who were tenants at 198_200.

  • Charles McGrath. Charles was a Canadian born carpenter who lived here before WWI with his wife Jennie and his daughter Sarah. Sarah was a clerk for the Casco Bank on Exchange St.
  • Harry & Harriet Noyes. The Noyes were both Maine natives who had 2 sons, Edwin & James, and a daughter, Grace. Harry was a clerk for the Boston & Maine Railroad.
  • Fred & Mary Connors. Fred was a laborer and Mary worked as a cook in a private home.
  • Peter and Inza (?) Pooles. Peter was a Greek émigré who worked in a candy shop. As for Inza, her name is listed in the 1923 as Peter’s spouse but I cannot find her in any other databases or city directories.
  • Lester & Ida Witham. Lester worked as a mill operator for the Burrowes Screen Company on Free St.
  • Thomas and Kate Kane. Thomas was a railroad laborer at Rigby Yard in South Portland. They lived here with 4 sons and a daughter.
  • John & Beatrice Meehan. They were Canadian born with 8 children. John worked as a laborer before becoming a sign painter.
  • John and Cleo Oddi. John was the son of Italian immigrants. I cannot find anything on Cleo. John worked various jobs including gas station attendant. They do not appear to have had children.

Frank Staples died in 1962 but his family retained ownership of 198_200 Spring Street until 1977 when it was sold to Archibald & Donna Scott. They sold it in 1983 to a couple from Wells Me named Searles who sold it to a couple from Freeport named Fogg in 1985. In 1989 it was sold to a Portland couple named Yang. The Yangs sold it to a NYC company called The “Interborough Leasehold Company in 1999. That company sold it to 200 Spring Street LLC in 2000. In 2002 the current owner purchased the property.

198_200 Spring Street is listed as 4 family apartment building. The condition is good.

2 thoughts on “198_200 Spring Street

  1. Rob Carignan


    Back in 2006 when Mercy started building the new Hospital, we were all made to park down in the new lot and take a shuttle up to State Street. I remember there was a little cold lady who sat in the front room. I could see her though the plastic covered windows. By 2008, I think, she wasn’t there anymore and they started to renovate the building with new windows and siding.

    This is my only, and passing, connection to the building.

    Rob Carignan



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