CAMDEN — Under the raw March skies, two excavators worked March 15 to pull an old waterfront cottage down at 10 Dillingham Point. “You just missed the chimney coming down,” shouted one workman, as a few neighbors watched from nearby lawns. One of them shrugged his shoulders, another was sad. Yes, the cottage was in bad shape and there had been a lapse in its care; yet, it was another chapter of Camden’s history closing.
The new owners of the property, after acquiring it last year, requested a demolition permit in February. This week, the house is being razed, leaving nothing but a brick patio that will be incorporated in the new house eventually built there.
Cindy and John Reed, the property owners, said March 16 that they will be building a one bedroom home on the point.
“We love the feeling of the historic houses on the point and will be constructing a house that will be historically sensitive, and respectful of the local Maine architectural traditions,” wrote Cindy Reed, in an email. “ We are still in the process of developing the design. We will be building a two bedroom guest house on Bay View Street to accommodate family and friends. That, too, will be very much in keeping with the local architecture vernacular. Both homes will be built for year round living.”
The former cottage, known as Arequipa, was built by Edwin Dillingham in 1900, according to tax records (although some say it was built in 1885). Dillingham Point juts into Camden Harbor, closing the distance between the mainland and Curtis Island, and the large white Arequipa was visible to all sailing into the harbor.
Dillingham, according to Reuel Robinson (History of Camden and Rockport, 1907), was among the first in the region to build summer homes in Camden, accommodating the wave of rusticators who came north from the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and Boston area to enjoy the refreshing Penobscot Bay breezes.
Dillingham and his sons developed several local summer enclaves, and hired Cyrus Brown, a former boatbuilder, to craft the handsome cottages. Arequipa was one of those cottages, and sat on 1.5 acres of land, next to several other cottages of the same vintage. In front of Arequipa spread 1,294 feet of shorefront, with views of Mt. Battie, Megunticook, the harbor, and glimpses of the bay beyond.
The cottage was 3,584 square feet in size, with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, two sun porches and three fireplaces. In 2015, the land was assessed by Camden at $1.6 million, and the cottage at $397,900.
After ownership in the same family for decades, it started to succumb to age and lack of maintenance. In 2014, it went into foreclosure, and was auctioned off to new owners, with a sale price of $2.6 million.
It changed hands again late last year, with the sale to Cynthia and John Reed.
Last week, Habitat for Humanity was invited in to retrieve anything of value, and then on Monday, the demolition crews got to work.
But prior to that, someone climbed a ladder onto the roof to see if the osprey nest that had been built on top of the easternmost chimney was occupied. It wasn’t, and there were no signs of chicks or eggs, according to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Assistant Regional Biologist John Pratte, on March 15.
Pratte said that ospreys, like most raptors, migrate south for the winter, and tend to return in March, about now, when the ice is retreating. They are adaptable, and will find other high spots on which to construct new nests, he said.
While there are no plans on file concerning new structures, the current site work is part of a larger project that is to include seawall reconstruction, dock construction, and a new home.
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