Set on a rolling lawn overlooking the Kennebunk River, surrounded by beautiful gardens the Captain Lord Mansion exudes elegance. Captain Nathaniel Lord, a wealthy ship builder, built his home in 1812 in Kennebunkport Maine. He spared no expense hiring housewright Thomas Eaton to build it in the Federal style and decorated the home’s interior with sumptuous satin wall coverings and Empire style furnishings.
Thomas Eaton was well known in the Kennebunks having designed two other Federal buildings; Wallingford Hall and the Taylor-Barry House in 1804 and 1805 respectively. Today the Taylor-Barry House comes under the auspices of Historic New England, the gardens at Wallingford Farm are open for tours.
Due to the British coastal blockade during the War of 1812 Capt. Lord could not build any ships. He put his shipwrights to work on his house having them carve the intricate exterior and interior moldings.
Sadly the captain did not live to enjoy his home for long, he died in 1815 at the age of thirty-nine. His wife Phoebe would raise their nine children there alone.
In 1898 Capt. Lord’s grandson, Charles Clark, did an extensive renovation of the house. Charles contracted architect William Ralph Emerson to design the present three story addition. Emerson removed the original ell, added the elliptical staircase in the front, the hallway arches, and the hand-grained doors all the while retaining the original 1812 Federal style architectural features. In what is now the gathering room Emerson installed a bay window with a curved window seat, high-Victorian wainscoting, target door moldings and the beamed ceiling.
The house was in the Lord family until 1972 when Capt. Lord’s great-granddaughter, Lucy Clark, was forced to liquidate the estate, selling the furniture, to pay the taxes. The house languished in obscurity until 1978 when Bev Davis and Rick Litchfield purchased it.
Bev and Rick started work immediately to bring the house back to its former glory. Doors, floors and woodwork, were stripped of layers of paint exposing gleaming oak, the twenty two fireplaces, original to the inn, were repaired and upgraded to gas.
Using old photographs showing the interior of the mansion and pouring over restoration books Bev and Rick were able to replicate the 19th century wall coverings and paint colors.
Paintings by artists such as Madjid, Herman Veger, Henri Dupre, Josef Arentz and Manuel Vicario decorate the walls. Tucked into nooks and crannies are elegant 19th century tall clocks, chests and high-boys. The late 1800’s Chippendale dining table with matching chairs and sideboard in the downstairs gathering room belonged to the Clark family.
Each of the inn’s guest rooms are decorated with 19th century four-poster beds, while the four poster Empire bed in the Ophelia room, dating to 1830, belonged to the Lord family.
When Capt. Nathaniel Lord built his home almost 200 years ago little did he know that his Mansion would be placed on the National Register of Historic Places and become one of the premier inns on the Maine coast.
Captain Lord Mansion