Down East 2013 ©
Several years ago, while restoring her Colonial-era house in Kennebunk, Ethel H. Dunn discovered that the home had once included one of the most unusual barns in York County, if not in Maine. The outbuilding had been built around an elm tree, which continued growing through the roof until the barn was torn down in 1929.
Dunn wanted to replicate the original barn, but lacked an elm to give the new barn its old distinction. But providentially there was a sugar maple on the same spot. With the help of some dedicated barn builders and an ingenious arborist, she now has a barn that boasts its own built-in shade tree.
“The original barn was in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not book in 1929,” says Dunn, who bought and began renovating her home in 1992. “When I saw the pictures of the old barn, I knew I had to try to recreate it.”
The happy homeowner enlisted local carpenters James Andrews and Paul Kochs to dismantle an old barn in Sanford and reassemble it next to the house. Tree expert Kurt Woltersdorf, of Sanford, trimmed the maple and devised a weatherproof fitting to keep snow and rain out of the barn, which Dunn uses as a garage and painting studio.
Local reaction has ranged from bemused double takes to outright astonishment. “People drop by the house and stop me in the store,” she says. “Everyone is interested in it.”
Little wonder. Even Mr. Ripley would be tickled.
(Published October 1996)