Tour the White Columns and be transported back to the days of sea captains and wealthy merchants. It’s a beautiful way to visit Kennebunkport’s history.
Dozens of houses in Kennebunkport were once home to sea captains and wealthy merchants. The White Columns is one of the best examples of life in the Coastal Maine Victorian era still standing today. The ‘old’ Nott House sits at the intersection of Spring and Maine Streets in Dock Square and still maintains many of the home’s original fixtures and interiors from the 19th century. This beautiful Greek Revival home was built in 1853 by Eliphalet Perkins. The Perkins family have been in and around the Kennebunks for generations. The house was built next door to the Baptist Church on a lot that Eliphalet purchased for $600. That church is now the Village Baptist Church.
The Perkins oldest son Charles married the oldest daughter of the minister of the church, Celia Nott. He purchased the house from his father for $5000 as a present for his new bride. They lived there for many years with their children. The house was passed down through her family over the years which is why it was called the “Nott House” before being renamed The White Columns by the Historical Society a couple of years ago. Richard Nott and his sister restored the home in the 1950’s for her to live in when she returned to Maine to live out her days. When she passed away in the 1980’s, it was turned over to the Kennebunkport Historical Society who still own and maintain the property.
Much of the house still has the original 19th century furnishings. The entrance hall has beautiful hand painted original wallpaper that is still drawing scholars to the house to study it. The 3D effect is remarkable and the colors are still bright and vibrant. Surprisingly, the green paint is made with arsenic so you are cautioned not to touch the paper! The family members over the years have no history of having problems with it, but that paint was notorious for causing deaths in Victorian England. The hand hooked carpets in the main parlor and hallways are showing wear in the main traffic areas, but along the outside corners, you can still see the vibrant colors from more than 100 years ago.
Celia’s bedroom looks like it did back in her day. When she passed away, it was closed up and not used so it’s in amazingly good condition. She was a very small woman which is reflected in the short bed and the dresser marble top that was custom built at a lower height just for her. Celia was a keen gardener so Charles built a solarium off of her sitting room to keep plants during the winter. Eventually, this space was opened up and still serves as a sunny reading nook. Some of the last big improvements were in the 1950’s when electricity, indoor plumbing and central heating were installed by Richard Nott and his sister, without damaging the aesthetics of the house.
The White Columns are a short 10 minute walk from the 1802 House Bed and Breakfast. It’s a beautiful house and we highly recommend a visit if you are in the Kennebunk area. The White Columns are open Monday through Saturday with tours being given on the hour from 10am to 3pm. Admission is $10 per person and all proceeds go to maintaining this wonderful piece of Kennebunkport’s rich history.