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Home > National Register of Historic Places > Historic Properties > > Recent listings > Land’s End Historic District
Land’s End Historic District
Date listed: 9/8/2011
Criterion A: Social History Criterion C: Architecture Local Significance
In 1906 the Vermont native, Russell W. Porter, purchased 50 acres of mostly undeveloped land on Marshall Point, in Port Clyde village, town of Saint George, Maine. In the early 1890s Russell had studied art with marine painter Charles H. Woodbury and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received two gold medals for his Beaux Arts architectural designs and helped design an exhibit for the 1893 Columbian exposition in Chicago. Between then and 1906 he joined no less than nine exploratory Arctic-region expeditions as artist and surveyor, including Robert E. Peary’s expedition to Greenland and others to Baffin Island, Labrador, the Yukon and the Russian Arctic – during the last he was stranded for three years after the boat was iced in. At the same time he developed his skills as an astronomer and delved into the art and science of making telescopes, skill that was to later lead to an impressive scientific career at Stellafane Observatory in Vermont and the Palomar Observatory in California. But after returning from three years on the ice Russell yearned to find a place where he could live close to nature and experience a relatively quiet, simple, and self-sustaining existence in which to nurture his creative spirit.
Within two years of purchasing the property in Port Clyde, Porter had married a local woman, divided much of his property into lots and started to pursue a vision of an enclave of seasonal residents dedicated to experiencing nature, living a simplified existence and nurturing artistic talents. Named “Land’s End,” Porter developed this community of “weary pilgrims” between 1906 and 1919. At Land’s End Porter built cottages (initially renting, then selling the properties), developed communal facilities and lead nature-based and art-based forays along the coast of Maine. Porter eventually erected, designed or otherwise directly influenced at least 14 cottages in the colony, and created a summer community with lasting cohesion and dedication to the properties. Unlike other colonies characterized by a specific aesthetic for their buildings (i.e. log cabins or large Shingle Style estates) the cottages at Land’s End are an eclectic mix of Craftsman, Shingle Style, Chalet and (English) Colonial Revival-style buildings. The exterior design of the cottages differ, but the interiors retain a consistent degree of detailing and finishes. Several of the cottages feature repetitive themes (gables, trees, animal life) drawn from Porter’s observations both abroad and in Port Clyde, or built-in furniture and free-standing furnishings constructed by Porter using local wood. The listing of the Land’s End Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places recognizes this cohesive cluster of cottages, concentrating on those properties for which Porter’s art and design had a significant impact, and which, when taken together, retain the greatest degree of integrity.
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