Ain’t It Grand?
In Eastport, a magnificent 1800s fixer-upper covertly bridges architectural genres.
TEXT BY JULIE SENK
PHOTOGRAPHED BY BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON
From our Summer 2022 issue
This opulent Second Empire has a secret. It holds it tightly, but there are discernible clues, namely a fanlight over a side door and a trio of early-19th-century neighbors. A look at its history reveals the home was actually built as a Federal for deacon and merchant Aaron Hayden around 1805, and featured a low hipped roof and pedimented front door. In the 1880s, it received a lavish renovation under Eastport’s first mayor, General Samuel D. Leavitt, who was inspired by the era’s popular Second Empire style. Leavitt added bay windows on the front and the genre’s trademark mansard roof, which encapsulates a third story.
Leavitt spared no expense on interior renovations either, adding tin ceilings adorned with crown moldings; stained-glass windows; parquet wood floors; ornate fireplaces with glazed-tile surrounds; a staircase with an intricately carved newel post and turned balusters; and numerous built-ins. Established gardens and apple trees, a private side porch, and a screened gazebo enhance the charm, as does the home’s location one block from Eastport’s historic waterfront downtown.
Repairing the compromised wooden shingles on the mansard roof is the top priority. Several shingles have rotted, leading to water-damaged walls, ceilings, and floors on the upper two stories that need to be addressed. The boiler requires inspection, but the steam radiators are in working condition. The four chimneys should be checked for functionality and safety, and the clapboards will benefit from scraping and fresh coats of paint. New owners will want to update the kitchen and four baths too.