TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
For three years, Ben Ray ran his Evangeline blanket company out of his Portland home. But as he acquired larger clients (Anthropologie, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Auburn’s Thos. Moser), the arrangement got awkward. “People were like, ‘we want to come to Maine and see the production,’ and it was my living room,” Ray says. So when he found a charming space with exposed beams and a trio of narrow windows on Fore Street last December, he leaped. “I’m an introvert, so the idea of a big storefront with big windows is not me,” he says. “I like the idea of people being in the know and finding us, and the place being an extension of my home.”
The 1792 Samuel Butts House and Store, the second-oldest building on the Portland peninsula (after the Wadsworth-Longfellow House) and one of only a handful that survived the city’s Great Fire of 1866. A 1924 handwritten tax assessment describes the structure as a store and hotel whose $3-per-week rooms were “usually full,” despite the building’s age (“very old”) and condition (“poor”).
ABOVE Benjamin Moore’s woodsy Hidden Falls paint and Burke Decor botanical wallpaper create a moody vibe in Portland’s new Evangeline shop, while gold disco balls add sparkle. Colorado Clay paint, also by Benjamin Moore, distinguishes the rear office, furnished with an antique stretcher, and a drafting table (not for sale) handed down from owner Ben Ray’s father-in-law.
Earth-toned throws and blankets — from “so soft it feels fake” cashmere to nubby cotton — on industrial metal shelving and wooden peg racks by Cape Elizabeth’s Dirt Wood Brass layered over exposed-brick and plaster walls, painted in Evangeline’s signature moody spruce shade. Behind a Craigslist carved wooden counter, luxurious botanical-print wallpaper sets off a bar area with an antique farm table stocked with vintage china and glassware. “That was the first thing we put in,” says Ray, who hung out here with his wife soon after signing the lease. “It was our COVID night out.”
Silky merino-wool throws in plaids and pinstripes; reversible linen-and-merino-wool throws that allow you to change up your sofa look; Maine-woven cotton pinstripe blankets; and Ray’s quirky new and vintage finds. From the gold disco balls piled in the brick fireplace, to a Noguchi Cyclone table and op-art-inspired cube tables used for displays, to Ray’s own 1964 Vespa, virtually everything here is for sale. “Yesterday, we had a couple come in for the sofa,” Ray said on a recent morning. “I love that because then I get to go out and find something new.”