Harpswell Historical Society

Incorporated 1979

929 Harpswell Neck Road
Harpswell, Maine  04079

The Harpswell Historical Society is dedicated to the discovery, identification, collection, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of materials relating to the history of Harpswell and its people.

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LOOKOUT POINT HOUSE Summer inn was originally the old cookhouse of famed Lookout shipyard, which made sturdy vessels that sailed the Seven Seas.

By Margaret B. Todd

"They've sailed the seas from
Hong Kong to Gibraltar,
On plain and hill they have
reared home and altar
Typhoon -and blizzard never
made them falter,
Some clans get fresh, ours is
growing salter

With this quatrain, the Rev. Charles M. Sinnett prefaced the Merriman genealogy. It might apply equally well to other old Harpswell families. Harpswell has been called a nursery for those who sailed the seas; but there were stalwart men who stayed at home and fashioned with prideful skill the many stately schooners that carried Harpswell men to fame in those far-away places.

One such shipyard thrived at the sandy point at the Lookout, although little remains as a present- day reminder. The Lookout lies on the north shore just above the old Center Harpswell steamboat landing There are three coves, named for the points of the compass toward which they face. The shipyard was in the southeast cove, which is formed by the mainland and the Lookout islands.

The yard flourished before, during and after the Civil War, and for about 20 years schooners and brigs ranging in size from 20 to 200 tons were built and launched there. Sometimes there were as many as four on the ways at one time. Two of the finest products of the yard were constructed for Capt. Shubael Merriman for his two sons the Andes for Capt. Walter Merriman, and the Angier H. Curtis for Capt. Angier H. Merriman. Another interesting ship built there was the P. C. Alexander which, on. a return trip from Cuba, fell preyto the north shore, just above the to the Confederate raider, the Alabama. Masts for these sturdy ships were hand-picked Minnesota timbers. Descendants of workmen at the yard tell how the oak chips were much sought after for use in family fireplaces

The doughty souls responsible for the successful shipyards were Paul R. Curtis and Albion Estes. Joseph Curtis, brother of Paul, who lived at Birch Island, has been described as "a man who read every book he could get hold of and remembered everything he read

There is one remaining symbol of the flourishing shipyard which, during the summer months at least, works as of old. That is the old bell a-top the Lookout Point House. Today the bell sounds a warning to vacationers that a for meal is just about ready. Also the bell is rung to speed the parting guest on his way. In the 1860's, however, the bell summoned the hungry shipwrights to their meals..

Yes, you have guessed it. The modern, up-to-date summer hotel,  with Mrs. S. L. Ransom as owner‑manager, was originally the cook house for the 'Lookout Point shipyard. The house was built by Paul and Angier Curtis, who lived on Birch Island, and the Curtis family coat-of-arms hangs in the dining room today.

Of course the house has changed hands several times through the years and has experienced the usual growing pains of modernization. Gone are the old brick over and a pantry that was absorbed to the kitchen. A bedroom and a hall were added to the dining room so that 40 guests may be seated with comfort at the oval-shaped tables

Among the interesting rnementoes of the past at Lookout House today is a grandfather clock with wooden work made by R. Whiting of Winchester that has come down through 200 years- in the Allen family. Pasted on the inside of the clock's door is a printed poem: a dialogue between Man and the Old Clock by J. S. Stanley that makes interesting reading

In the entrance hall is a picture the brothers Curtis. Joseph and of George, who gave their names to the tiny islands Lookout Point House has an attractive gift shop also

[Hotels home]  [Driftwood and Edgecliff Hotels]   [Guernsey Villa]   [Hildreth House]   {Lookout Point House]   [Merriconeag]   [Nanatuck]   [Oakledge]   [Oceanview]   [Old Fort Homestead]  [Otterbrook Farm]  [Sea Gables