ABOVE Bill and Lisa Dalton’s 1920 log cabin perches on Boothbay Harbor’s Linekin Bay.
TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAMES R. SALOMON
STYLED BY JANICE DUNWOODY
My wife’s usually the one who gets enamored, but this place grabbed me,” Houston real estate developer Bill Dalton says, referring to the log cabin in Boothbay Harbor’s historic Sprucewold colony that he and his wife, Lisa, impulse-bought on a leaf-peeping trip a decade ago. “When you walk in, the thing is over 100 years old, and it still has that wood smell.” It reminded him of his great-aunt Caty Ruth’s log cabin in Louisiana, where he spent childhood summers. “We told the Realtor we’re total tire-kickers,” says Lisa, an interior designer and residential contractor. “But liar, liar pants on fire. We bought it.”
ABOVE The original dining-room table and cabinet are constructed of logs from the property.
The Daltons’ 1920 cabin is one of about 60 similar summer places in Sprucewold, on Linekin Bay, a onetime rusticators’ community that, in its heyday, included a lodge billed as the largest log cabin in the world, a dance hall offering nightly soirees, and a saltwater swimming pool. According to an early ad, the retreat promised “all the pleasures of primitive living with none of the penalties.” Designed in the Adirondack style of upstate New York’s late-1800s “Great Camps,” the cabins, now privately owned, were constructed and partially furnished with peeled logs harvested on the property. Each had a large porch and central living space dominated by a beach-stone fireplace and a small “servants’ kitchen” that was “almost like an afterthought,” Lisa says.
Leaving intact the cabin’s original log furnishings and lantern fixtures that once ran on kerosene, Lisa focused on renovating the baths and elevating the kitchen, untouched since the ’50s and featuring “boat-sized appliances,” from an afterthought to a cheerful, functional space for herself and Bill, their three grown kids, and assorted friends. After gutting the room, she brightened it with ivory cabinetry, butcher-block countertops, dusty-blue paint on the log walls, and her grandmother’s 1948 white-enamel stove. On the screened porch, accessed via a heavy Dutch door with a porthole window, fresh coats of lobster-buoy-red paint on the pine floor decorated with a nailhead compass play up the maritime theme.
ABOVE In the living room, prior owners added a spiral staircase to a lofted bedroom.
The Daltons have taken so much to their cabin, that they’ve since bought another 1920s log cabin and a 1940s studio in Sprucewold, which they rent out seasonally, a 1940s winterized home in downtown Boothbay Harbor, and the 1763 Squire Tarbox Inn, in Westport, which they co-own with a business partner and which Lisa visits monthly from Houston to help oversee. “I don’t think we could have imagined that something like this would happen to us — that we would be on the other side of the country, spending a lot of time,” Bill says, laughing. “And everything else that happened just made it better, the people we met and the other properties. Our whole Maine experience has grown tremendously from that first cabin.”