Maine home is a bridge to serenity

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Photos by Robert L. Drake

Moored and moving yachts, lobster boats, kayaks and windjammers comprise the ever-changing view from the Bridge House in the harbor of downtown Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

This unique home in Maine's Boothbay Harbor offers all the charms of a summer camp stay.

“It’s a really cool place,” says Allan Miller, who with his partner, Pam Burke, renovated the 1902 bridge tender’s house on the footbridge that spans the harbor and live there during summers. “The view of the harbor out every window is like a picture postcard.”

And they’re part of it. The shingled structure perched on pilings is one of the most photographed buildings in town.

The 1,000-foot bridge saves pedestrians a three-quarter-mile walk around the head of the harbor. In 1902 a private citizen paid to have the bridge built, then collected a penny from each pedestrian as a toll. He donated the bridge to the town after recouping the $1,500 he had spent.

Miller and Burke returned the house, used as a commercial property for decades, to a private summer cottage in 2001.

Now the couple, who divide their year among East Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Key West, Fla. (where they met in 1995), want to simplify their life.

“We’re torn about selling. The Bridge House has been a fabulous summer camp, but we have too many houses, too many boats, too much to take care of,” says Miller, 70, a woodworker who has owned and operated Pepe’s Restaurant in Key West for 34 years.

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The 1,100-square-foot Bridge House, private dock and float with 4.5-foot depths at mean low water, plus the former Rowe’s Market (with a parking area) at the east end of the footbridge are for sale for $995,000. Separately the Bridge House is $795,000, the market $225,000.

The couple restored the gambrel-roofed Bridge House to its 1902 exterior appearance with unstained cedar shingles and multi-paned windows.

Inside they recaptured the relaxed, nautical feeling of a seaside Maine summer camp. Miller fashioned the stair railing from a spinnaker pole and cut pine posts and stair treads from the schooner Roseway’s bowsprit, which he had been saving.

He built a Dutch “front” door from the deck into the dining room/kitchen, which gleams with new appliances, varnished pine counters and beadboard cabinets. In the adjacent sunroom they added a potbellied stove for heat and old-style windows that open and let the summer breeze through. In the bath beneath the stairs Miller lined the new shower with low-maintenance cedar clapboards. Upstairs the couple created one bedroom from the original two.

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Restaurants, shops, galleries and services are literally only steps away at both ends of the footbridge. At the east end of the bridge stands the former Rowe’s Market property. Miller and Burke renovated the building last fall into a year-round residence. Still usable commercially, the building contains a large central room with a kitchenette, heat, full bath and two storage rooms.

Taxes on the Bridge House are about $2,300. Both properties have city water and sewer. Clayton Pottle and Howie Barter, (207) 633-2222, of Pottle Realty Group in Boothbay Harbor list the property. www.pottlerealtygroup.com

February 2013 issue