When I visited Searsport Maine with my husband many years ago, we saw many old Sea Captain homes - grand estates built during the time of the Searsport Sea Captains sailing the high seas from China to Cape Horn, and more. Each house has great history. We stayed at a B&B that was the former home of my 4th Great Grandfather, Capt. Green Pendleton. Each house was a desirable purchase back then, but not now it would seem.
Today I came across an article about the sale of the Capt. John Willard McGilvery home at 120 Main Street in Searsport in 2014. John was the uncle of the husband of my third great aunt, Ann L. McGilvery...obviously a distant in-law. But it is not him that interested me, it is the fate of his home in Searsport, and that of the many other sea captain homes in that small town.
This McGilvery home was originally built in 1874 for $5000 when the average Maine home was built for $100. It is worth about $800,000 but is taxed at $400,000 and sold recently as a result of an auction at around the $200,000 mark. The McGilvery home is on the National Register of Homes which should be of value, right? Evidently not so. Why such a disparity in prices?
The home more recently was the "Carriage Inn" B&B, with many guests in its three guest rooms, which may well have been haunted according to hauntedrooms.com .
Maine artist Waldo Pierce lived there in mid 1900s and the house still has some of his murals on the walls. Again, valuable in real estate or it should be.
The auction realtor Mike Miller said, “It’s a beautiful, beautiful home. If you like old houses, it’s a doozy but the market is inversely proportional to the cost of heating oil. The effect of that on a property like this is enormous. We call them dinosaurs. If you have 4,500 square feet of old house with horsehair plaster, you’ve got a problem.” Ah, so heating cost and maintenance is the culprit!
This is a 13 room, 6,000 square foot house with horsehair plaster. The home has 12 foot ceilings which eat heat! Five fireplaces which do only some to heat and may well cause heat loss.
So. someone got a bargain for the house (which still has the original pumpkin pine floors) and the carriage house with a studio apartment above it. Amazing. Oh, perhaps the new owner has rented this out the apartment to help defray the skyrocketed fuel costs!
No matter what, I will always marvel at the homes of the Searsport Sea Captains.
Thank you, Bangor Daily News for this article.