2018-02-22 / News

Efforts move along for repair of historic home

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

SACO – A historic downtown home continues to provide connections to the past but will require support from the community if developers hope to preserve it for the future.

The A. B. Seavey House, located at 90 Temple St., was built in 1890 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The house, considered a prominent example of Queen Anne architecture in the city, experienced significant damage from a fire in 2012 that left parts of it open to the elements. The house has been vacant since the fire but has received attention thanks to Kelley Archer, Saco Historic Preservation Commission chairman, and Anne Garland, volunteer for Dyer Library.

After being contacted by an antique car owner, the two women began gathering information on Lenora Seavey, who used to live at 90 Temple St., and her 1940 LaSalle automobile, featured in the Nov. 23 edition of The Courier. Since then, Frank Carr of Hardypond Construction has volunteered his time to understanding how the house can be saved. Carr is developer of the former Notre Dame Church on Cutts Avenue that is being turned into apartments.

Carr said there are significant issues that need to be addressed such as lead paint, asbestos and mold before any repair work can begin. He’s working with communications specialist for the city Emily Roy to establish a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the initial costs. Carr also wants to determine what the best use of the space would be and what kind of ownership structure should be put in place. According to the city’s online database, the city owns the property at 90 Temple St. and it is valued at $71,100.

“I’d like to really be starting work in the summertime,” he said. “Initially we’re just trying to get the first floor supported and get some trash out of there. If we can get people to see the place I think there will be a lot more excitement generated. Hopefully we will start submitting to the planning board.”

The Alton M. Seavey Scholarship, named in honor of Lenora Seavey’s husband who died in 1940, is awarded to the valedictorian of Thornton Academy each year. Lenora Seavey continued to live at 90 Temple St. after her husband’s death with her live in housekeeper Gertrude Bean.

“She started out as a cook and became a live in housekeeper with Lenora,” Garland said. “It appears that by 1956 Gertrude Bean was at 90 Temple but I don’t know how much before then. There was a point at which she was much more than a live in housekeeper and cook. They went to church together. I know from someone who attended the Methodist church at the corner of School and Middle, there used to be clam suppers at the church and Lenora would go with Gertrude. She had become more of a companion to Lenora at that time.”

Archer said that Seavey and Bean were often spotted together in the 1940 LaSalle riding through Saco to and from church.

Garland eventually learned that Saco resident Bridget Scontras, Thornton Academy class of 1967, received the Alton M. Seavey scholarship and visited Lenora at 90 Temple St. to thank her.

“I remember that I thought it was important to visit her,” Scontras said. “I called her and she invited me to come visit. I did and she was very gracious. One of the things I do remember is we were served beverages by her housekeeper. I remember she showed me a picture of her husband. He had a shovel and was standing near a small tree he had planted. Then she pointed out the window at a large tree in the yard. It was the tree he had planted way back when. That is a vivid memory. She was happy to see me and I was happy to visit her.”

Scontras, 68, said she is glad there is interest in restoring the house and was impressed when she walked in more than 50 years ago.

“It was actually a beautiful home inside,” she said. “There was an all-natural wood fireplace, a large window overlooking the yard and furniture to match the decor. The Victorian furniture was large if I remember right. To me it looked very authentic and grand. I’d not been in a house such as that.

“I felt very honored that I had received a prize scholarship in her husband’s name. I think it was a very touching thing. I think that’s what I wanted to tell her at the time.”

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com

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