Listing of the Week: A 16,443-square-foot 'cottage' in Maine
A summer home built with a silver-mining fortune in 1903 became a corporate retreat, complete with an arcade, bowling alley and ice-cream parlor.
We’d all like a cottage in Maine, at least in summer, and Camden is a particularly charming town.
This cottage has undergone some renovation and expansion over the years, ending up at 16,443 square feet on 13 acres overlooking picturesque Penobscot Bay. What makes this house special, aside from the views, are the amenities: a pool, of course, and a media room, but also a "game building," with an arcade, pool table, bowling alley and replica of a 1950s ice-cream parlor.
Reflecting its history as a former corporate retreat for the credit-card company MBNA, it also comes with a 75-car parking garage and three guest houses. The property has 10 bedrooms and 11 baths. Asking price is $4.95 million. You can see historical photos and current photos in this article in Portland Monthly Magazine.
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The house was built in 1903 as a summer home by William Borden, a dairy merchant from Chicago who made his fortune from a Colorado silver mine, and his wife, Mary. (Their daughter, Mary Borden, became a successful novelist, and her daughter, Ellen Borden, married Adlai Stevenson, who twice ran for president.)
The house remained in the family until 1946, when it was sold to Richard and Joan Sexton. They renamed it Fox Hill after their son saw a family of foxes outside the kitchen window.
In 1982, the great-granddaughter of the original owners bought the cottage back, and the family lived in it another 10 years.
The home then was sold to Charles Cawley, the chairman of MBNA, and his wife, Julie, who were responsible for the renovations and additions, including the game building. They used the estate both for their family gatherings and for corporate retreats.
When MBNA was sold to Bank of America in 2006, the estate went with it. It was subsequently bought by Matthew Simmons, an energy exec, who planned to turn it into an East Coast version of the Aspen Institute. But his death in 2010 brought an end to those plans.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.