A drive along Kennebunk’s Summer Street reveals some of southern Maine’s most architecturally significant high-style homes. Stately Federal and Greek Revival residences (among a smattering of later styles) are set back from the road on manicured lawns, offering a glimpse into the lives of the shipbuilders and merchants who settled the upper portion of the street over a century ago. But one of the area’s most fascinating homes remains largely hidden behind a dense hedge and massive trees for most of the year. Only when the leaves disappear do passerby get a clear view of the breathtaking 1885 Hartley Lord House. Designed in the Queen Anne style by architect George Meacham (of Boston Public Garden fame) for shipmaster Hartley Lord, the building appears more like a modest castle than the summer home it was built to be. Irregular massing, heavy ornamentation, and corner towers distinguish the exterior; inside Meacham specified elaborate wood paneling and moldings, several fireplaces, and stained glass windows. The mansion remained with the Lord family until the 1980s and has since transitioned into the hands of preservation-minded owners who have maintained its grand historic character.
Portland-based writer Julie Senk holds degrees in history and historic preservation and provides property surveys and architectural analyses to homeowners and businesses. To learn more about her work, visit northernvernacular.com.