Editor's Note

Maine Homes by Down East magazine, Fall 2020

Editor’s Note

The Guide

Marbling is on a winning streak, Molly Neptune Parker baskets to collect, Seal Harbor’s latest shop has a live-in owner, inventive products from Maine’s Black community, siblings tag team a Portland inn update, what’s new in the Kennebunks, live in Newfield’s former Willowbrook Museum!, the backstory on a Lincolnville general’s Federal, bungalows for sale!, and candid answers to your home dilemmas.

Get Inspired

We’re crushing on this triple-peaked Bernard retreat, architectural flourishes punch up a Rutherford Island carriage house, five minutes with Boothbay culinary blogger Cherie Scott, and an architect couple transforms a 19th-century Bar Harbor Masonic hall into a pair of artful living spaces.

Wild Life

Confined to her Brunswick home, a writer discovers the many wonders of a tiny downtown plot.

By Susan A. Olcott

East Side Stories

Natives of Portland’s once-maligned Munjoy Hill neighborhood reflect on the place they knew, and the changing winds that have been steadily whooshing up the slope.

By Michaela Cavallaro 

The New Healthy Maine Home

Local pros weigh in on the ways — big, small, and for the better — homes are changing in the COVID-19 era.

By Jen DeRose


2020 Maine Homes Design Awards

Which industry pros and readers got top honors in our third annual contest? View the eight winning projects.

Sea Change

Longtime Higgins Beach residents find their dream retreat — right around the corner.

By Jen DeRose

Creature Comforts

On Cumberland Foreside, a couple nurtures an eclectic home, a mid-century furniture business, and a menagerie.

By Sara Anne Donnelly

Home Sweet Hytte

In South Bristol, a scientist/shellfish entrepreneur’s quirky compound becomes a cheerful retreat for a large Norwegian family.

By Jesse Ellison

The Accidental Farmer

Cumberland’s Joanne Fryer is rescuing an heirloom apple orchard — by growing dahlias.

By Virginia M. Wright

Why I Live Here

From her North Yarmouth porch, Anita Leadbetter might spot her kids pushing a chicken in a toy grocery cart or a mini horse on the loose.

Cover photo by: Erin Little

Editor’s Note

Thirteen years into living in Portland, here are some things I just discovered: the sweet relief of a dip in the public Kiwanis pool, five minutes by bike from our house; the beauty of seeing a movie backlit by stars at the Saco Drive-In; the existence of dog-friendly Bay View Beach in Saco (which, in July, had rocks blackened with zillions of baby mussels — how have I never seen this before?); the capacity of our abundantly shady yard to produce a respectable haul in a raised bed; and watching The Brady Bunch reruns with sundaes (and pauses to explain rampant sexism and privilege) is a perfectly delightful way to spend a Friday family night. Naturally, I am utterly preoccupied with the Brady house this go-round — the orange Formica and avocado-green appliances in the kitchen! The colorful panel assemblage behind the stairs! The three sets of sliding doors leading to the Astroturf yard!

With our travel plans pretty much kaput, these simple pleasures, most of which harken back to my childhood, have been a balm. And, apparently, there’s a scientific reason for that: “In times of trauma and overwhelming stress, it’s a natural instinct to feel nostalgic and rely on those feelings for comfort and a sense of normalcy,” the New York Times recently reported in an interview with a clinical psychologist. That explains all the ’80s and ’90s music on my Spotify playlist and the immense enjoyment I got out of our series of oral histories with former residents of Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood, about what life was like on their blocks before trendiness and gentrification crept in (page 44). “When you were young and running those streets [in the ’40s and ’50s], you understood what all of the grandmothers were shouting at you when you did something wrong — it made no difference whether it was Italian or Polish or Yiddish,” retired journalist Bob Greene says, hitting on a beautiful and, sadly, largely bygone it-takes-a-neighborhood-to-raise-a-child mentality.

Old-School Cool: We saw The NeverEnding Story at the Saco Drive-In — the plot about an evil force called “The Nothing” trying to devour the world hit a tad too close to home! I hope you enjoy our retrospectives on Portland’s Munjoy Hill hood and Molly Neptune Parker’s baskets as much as I do.

I was similarly piqued by writer Susan Olcott’s accounting of the wonders she and her daughters discovered on their tiny Brunswick plot during last spring’s stay-at-home order (page 41) — we children of earlier generations may remember the joy that eventually followed being nudged out the door and told to make our own fun — and the oasis, complete with an elegant mid-century house, a giant vegetable garden, goats, chickens, and cats, Stacey and Neil Collins created on Cumberland Foreside (page 70). The place was meant to be a pit stop between sailing trips, but, Stacey says, “The things we loved about living on a boat, like being connected to nature and being self-sufficient, over the years, this property has been transformed to allow us to have those same pleasures.”

In this brave new era, those old ideals of nurturing, and being nurtured by, the land are what many of us are clamoring for. A trio of sliders framing the scene would also be pretty sweet.

Sarah Stebbins