Houses in small Maine towns.
You know the folks who called this, that place “home”. It’s not just a house painted a different color. Or one you walk by and remember when it was in better or worse condition. Small Maine houses are not found in 300 lot subdivisions with a sea of sameness. Or the need for GPS to find out which ones is your house after a long day at the office.
Houses in small Maine towns have a connection.
The family that lives in each small town home is a big part of the community. The color, the changes over the years don’t go unnoticed. Son in that one was on your little league team. The same age as your oldest. His sister was in one class ahead of your youngest daughter. When the family grows up and moves away, the sound of laughter fades with the memories.
Trees around the not so highly maintained Maine homes take over quickly.
They grow in around the structure to make it disappear.
The father two home owner’s ago was a US border patrol agent.
His wife a nurse at the local hospital. She held brownie meetings for the girl scouts troop in the overhead garage attic rec room. Low population small Maine town houses are important “containers”.
When an older house is torn down in a small Maine town it hits me as a sad event to witness.
Partly because housing units are in tight supply. We need all we can get for starter homes, to convert into apartments. The one after another home sewn together like boot laces up and down the tree lined street.
These houses, yards, the maintenance all represent part of the history of the small Maine town in small Maine communities.
The excavator with the claw or fire or whatever lead to the need to demolish the structure means part of the original neighborhood character disappeared. Gone but not forgotten if you remember the original house and the folks who grew up there.
As you walk a summer night around the neighborhoods of a small Maine town. You one by one recall what was in that “hole” or “gap”. Before many of these newer homes popped up one by one, these three blocks were a farm or heavily wooded.
The neighbors bordering each side of the house may split the newly created vacant lot.
When the place comes down and no more shared driveway hassles. Gone is the squabbles over the three pit bulls barking loudly long after the bedroom night stand light goes dark. No new home built to replace it and more yard space,plenty of parking, less shade happens. Or if the lot is lucky enough to have a replacement home added, it is not often the same character or style of the original.
Housing needs change and one floor gets the majority of votes for housing styles these days. Remove the stairs to broaden the house’s appeal to Maine home buyers.
A double wide or modular is not the same construction as the older, larger square footage Maine Victorian houses.
Not double boarded, no back stairway, no attic, no sleeping porch or formal dining room, patterned hardwood floors or turret. Smaller lot, less square footage efficient. Easier to heat and loaded with new technology and no root cellars, no stained glass, no ball room size space.
Instead of a strip mall location or high exposure US highway spot for a business, many of the older Maine houses a blend of business and residential use.
Dr. Perkins the veterinarian lived on Court Street and I remember taking our farm tom cat Satie for medical attention. Many older houses in Maine near a court house become an apartment overhead for a traveling nurse. A law office with the scales of justice displayed on the ground floor.
Same thing happens with houses around a Maine hospital.
They become auxiliary facilities housing something medical related. Like a daycare near the elementary school, the location saves the busy World some precious time.
On Bowdoin Street, the mint green New England style home on the right had a beauty salon in the cellar.
So did the brown cape next to it where both hair dressers built successful home hair care businesses. Other homes have cottage industries underway. The seamstress who can alter your clothing, put in a new hem or loosen up the tight fit.
The lady two doors down from your home caters parties, weddings, holiday get togethers. Across from her is a fellow who used his carriage house for repairing small engines. Everything from lawnmowers to snowmobiles and chainsaws.
Working from home happened in Maine homes long before telecommute remote online jobs sprung up all over the state of Maine.
In small Maine towns, before the 1980’s, there were lots of corner groceries. More smaller neighborhood groceries and less big box outlets for everything. Homes added on and converted in several phases as their attached small grocery stores increased business. And tight parking lead to the removal of a house or two around it when the opportunity arose. Or a relocation to a commercial spot with more traffic, better in and out parking options.
That neighborhood of cape style homes created after WWII.
This one from the 1960’s with a ranch after 24’x40′ style ranch. Bought with a dollar down. A subsidized help you along from Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) attached 33 year mortgage lower rate. Only 396 payments if we don’t double up on the payments or replace it with a home sale for a new set of house keys. Everything is less expensive from houses to the cost for a plumber, electrician, carpenter.
Small town Mainers are pretty jack of all trades, highly skilled in lots of areas. Anything but helpless and always friendly, helpful, handy.
Protecting the character of the small Maine town housing stock.
Feeling pride when you see up and down a street the neighborhood being revitalized. You don’t want it to be “last guy out of town, turn off the lights” final. In parts of the country, you can’t just tear down an older heritage home. Have to gut and replace to renew it so available housing stock stays healthy.
Talked to a guy from Cape Cod last week who told me about his job jacking up and replacing foundations, moving homes in the Bay State.
Some homes have lots of children, lots of extended family coming and going around them.
Lights are on and folks are home. The open front porch and rear yard in constant use. Other houses in small town Maine owned by snow birds. That take off before the first snow flake and return when green grass appears.
A few neighborhood homes used as the hub of activity for the kids who live blocks around it. Others dark, not much activity because the owner does not get out much and drives a walker. Those are the ones the neighbors join forced to watch out and check in to make sure all is well.
The stately small downtown in a Maine community changes too.
The old blacksmith shop is now a parking lot. One downtown former grocery store converted into multi housing apartments. Another transformed into a community college a beehive of higher education.
A mill closing or just Internet and Interstate threatening the small town Maine way of life.
We have economic struggles to weather but those tight times only make the connection stronger, tighter. The larger, older housing stock Maine is famous for is ideal for taking in loved ones. Your relatives that need independence but someone keeping a closer watch as age happens to the best of us. Taking in foster kids, opening up a bed and breakfast, the small Maine town houses are hard working like the folks who own them.
Year after year with your kids, tramping up the house steps to trick or treat.
Knock and wait for it. You remember who gave the best candy snacks and who decorated to the hilt at Christmas, the other holidays. Some houses looking abandoned because they are. Foreclosure can take years to figure out who made the loan, who insured it as a back up go to when the mortgage and property tax payments stop.
Those homes not stopped at during a magazine sales campaign school fund raisers. Or biking by on your early morning paper route job to earn some spending money.
The houses in small Maine towns, who lives in them is no secret to the locals who log year after year of living in the community.
Like pets needing a new home or that are just sadly neglected. You want to see them get energized, put back on their feet. The grand older Maine houses are the anchors of the community. With new neighborhoods popping up and the landscaping changing slow by sure. Thank yu for following our Me In Maine blog posts.