About

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I am a  history and architecture buff who likes to tell stories. I take pictures with my phone so sometimes the images aren’t the greatest. I try to have my pictures show the house as it would be seen from the street or sidewalk. I am telling stories not making art.
I try to follow accepted standards in researching my subjects. I will always say if I feel the information or resource is questionable. I welcome suggested corrections if they can be verified.

I am self-taught. I grew up in a family of builders so it is “in my blood” to some extent. I became interested in architecture in high school. In my 20’s, I spent much of my time in Portland and became aware of the city’s heritage and history in its built environments. As I have gotten older, I have broadened my interests to include urban design and social/economic influences of and on architecture.

Like many people with a passion for something, I found myself wanting to share what I learned with others. Prior to the rise of the Internet, there were few outlets. I was a walking tour guide for a couple of summers and that was enjoyable but it wasn’t quite right.

I finally realized I wanted to tell stories. During the early days of the web, I had a couple of pages devoted to local history. Both now long gone. They were clunky but got me started. A couple of years ago, I started blogging as a way of telling stories. After a couple of less-than-stellar tries, I developed the format you’re now reading. I hope you find it entertaining and perhaps a bit informative. Please let me know if you like what your reading or if you don’t. I would love to hear from my readers.

DBM

Email me.

20 thoughts on “About

  1. Nancy L. Knauber

    Hi, Are you still working on buildings in Portland, Maine? Have you ever considered a volunteer assistant?
    In 1972/3 I with the help of Frannie Peabody, (then involved with Greater Portland Landmarks) reinstated the State of Maine Historic Site, program. At that time I worked at the Park Danforth Home for the Aged; and her aunt lived there and she asked that I give her aunt special attention, which I did. In turn, she told me if she could ever do anything for me to let her know. So, I did.
    At that time (and for 17 years) I lived at 114 Park St., the section of the Park St. Row House at the corner of Park St. and Spring St. I asked her to have it proclaimed a Historic Building which she did. There was some opposition to my request by Mr. Mooney, who was the State of Maine employee who was to administer the program, but in the end, Frannie Peabody won and a proclamation was declared in 1973.
    Sometime after that, I became unemployed, and I did a deed search and a historic search for 114 Park St. Other owners of the Row House became aware of that and I was paid to do the same for their properties
    Now I’m retired, and looking for something to fill my time. That leads me back to my leading question “Have you ever considered a volunteer assistant?”

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      1. Maria Hahn

        I really enjoy your site. I lived at 67 Congress St Portland Maine most of my life. I live in California now but Maine and Portland are the Best! Thanks for you efforts and my trips down memory lane. Maria Hahn

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  2. Nuptial Spectacular!

    Hi! I would be interested in learning more about the history of 154-156 Danforth Street (which is right next to 158 Danforth, which you already researched. It may even be owned by the same landlords!). I used to live there, and it was definitly haunted (by a very angry/negative spirit). I have always wanted to know more about that house and who lived (and died) there. If you’re up for another project, I would love to see what you can find on this house! Thank you!

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  3. Jo Bell

    Hi there, I am loving your site! What a cool project. I came across a house for sale that looks quite unusual and I thought you might be interested. It’s 1040 Ocean Ave.

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  4. William L. Shafter

    Hi: I’ve owned a John Calvin Stevens house on Cumberland Ave for 41+ years and have been restoring it the entire time. It took me years to track down the story of this house but I have a pretty good idea of the entire history. Love to talk to you.

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  5. Aislinn

    Would love to know more history about my own home, built in 1822 located at 3 Taylor St (corner of Taylor and May). I believe it’s the only house in Portland Maps from 1875ish in the area, so have wondered how it went from being a house surrounded by land to being really just the footprint of the house with virtually no land! It is also technically zoned for two units, so have always been curious about that. It is. Well made house, and is in the more working/middle class part of the West End, yet is a single family home. Would love to chat!

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  6. IM

    Wow – wonderful site! I stumbled upon it while doing some work-related research on a home that had been used as WAVES officers headquarters during WWII (the former Grayhurst Park estate/Storer Mansion, long gone to a fire decades ago). I live in Bath and would love it if somebody did a similar blog for the many wonderful old homes here. Who knows – perhaps when I retire I’ll take it on!

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  7. Shannon

    Hi there,
    My name is Shannon Moss and I am a news reporter with News Center Maine. We came across your website on Portland House Stories and thought it would make an interesting news story. I admire your passion for telling stories about local houses and their history.
    Would you have any interest in being interviewed for a news story?
    Thanks,
    Best,
    Shannon
    shannon.moss@newscentermaine.com 207.232.3661

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  8. John W

    Hello, you have created a very terrific site!
    Suggestion for future research: The Danforth St “row houses” (two separate multi, and a single) between Bracket and Clark. Number 196 was were my grandmother’s younger brother and his wife (Alfred and Eva LaCroix) raised a daughter and lived for many years up to approx 1980. This set of buildings may not all have been connected by builder, but visually seems they may have been.
    Thanks again,
    John

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  9. Brooke Chornyak

    I love reading about the buildings you’ve done all this great research on. My grandfather was an architect, my first job was in an architecture firm as a graphic designer, so I have a curiosity and interest in buildings as well.. I was wondering if you might look at 420 Baxter Blvd? I found it was built in 1937 during the height of the depression but I can’t find much else..I had an opportunity to study at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany when I was in design school and this building always reminds me of that time as well as the master’s houses for the professors, built in that International Style…I think around the same time. Thanks!

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    1. alewifecove Post author

      Hello and thank you for the kind words. I have to say I’m a bit envious of anyone who has had a chance to study at the Bauhaus. It’s on my list of places to see. Are you familiar with the Marcel Breuer design in Cape Elizabeth?
      It’s interesting that you mention 420 Baxter. I photographed the Chenery Street side in late 2019 but wasn’t happy with the images and moved on. I will put it on my list of future subjects.

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  10. John W

    Thank you for doing the research on 196 Danforth. Just a double check, is it a typo in the second paragraph “The brothers built, in a short period of time, a block of 2 two-story townhouses in a relatively severe Greek Revival style.” where you state 2 TWO-STORY townhouses. I assume the comment is about the subject building and that is 3 stories as you later refer to it. Or did I misunderstand?
    So extrapolating from your comments and research, the block of 4 connected townhouse buildings running from corner of Bracket up to 194 across the alley from subject, was built first but only by a year or less, and you comment on the porticos at 196/198, but you didn’t comment on the granite steps. The 4 unit building has wooden steps, and the plainer portico. You say that the portico brackets were not being used when the building was built, so when it was changed is also possibly when the granite steps were put in too. Do you think? Do you have an idea of what year that remodeling might have been based on those brackets and the overall portico style?
    The first floor front was the parlor, and there were folding interior shutters, upper and lower which my grand-aunt had cut, so she could close half of the bottoms!
    My impression and suggestion about the full height second floor window on the north side alley was likely to let in more light, being the north side, don’t you think that would be likely?
    Also, on the 4 unit, the side wall at roof gutter is different. Is that just style, or some function?
    My grand-uncle’s name (as many French Catholic boys, was Joseph, but so were his brothers also named Joseph, (Joseph James, Joseph Peter, Joseph Alfred, Joseph Albert) and the middle name is what they went by. His name was Alfred (Alfrege). His wife was Eva St. John. They are both buried in her family’s plot in New Hampshire. After he died, she went to live with her daughter, first in Texas for some years, then they moved to St. Petersburg, in Florida. The daughter married young, divorced then married again late in life, but never had children. She has died as well some years back.
    Thanks for doing this research!
    I’m going to buy a T-shirt and give to a friend in New Orleans! Hope you get money from that sale.
    John W

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    1. alewifecove Post author

      Hi John. Thanx for the heads up, I have corrected the text. The taller window may have been for more light while retaining the rhythm of the facade. Steps may have been changed as well. I hadn’t looked closely at them. As for the brackets, I would guess late 19th century. Maybe when the Spanish Counsel resided there.
      If you buy a shirt, it will be a first!
      Cheers!

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      1. John W

        I believe this was a single family home (not separate apartments) up until and all during the LaCroix ownership, although their were boarders at times. I visited in the building several times while my grand-uncle and aunt lived there. So I’m assuming it was converted to 3 units after 1977. One thing I’m curious about, is when the duplex, single building, was split and sold to different owners. In a row house, I can imagine possible separate owners from the initial construction, but as a duplex, wasn’t it more common to own the whole building. live in half, and rent out the other? Did you come across any data to suggest if/when the 196 separated from the 198?

        As of now, one T-shirt is on its way to New Orleans, and another to Brunswick, Maine!

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      2. alewifecove Post author

        Hi John
        These were row or townhouses from the beginning. Eli Hamblen sold 196 separately from 198. The conversion to multi-family no doubt happened after 1977. The 3 mailboxes confirm the current status.
        Thanx for the purchase. I’m not sure what I will do the day I see someone wearing one!

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  11. John

    Hi again!
    Enjoyed your latest on Avon.
    Couple of minor typos for you in it:

    What our Mr. Smith built was a block 30″ wide on the street and 48′ deep.

    She immigrated to the Us in 1907.

    Inch mark, should be foot mark. Us, should be US.

    (In rereading my own comments here on this page, found several typos of my own doing!)

    My friend in New Orleans loved the shirt!
    John

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