September 16, 2012

Open House: You had me at hello

Owners Marvin Olsen and Tim Honquest fell for this Back Cove beauty as soon as they saw its giant, gracious, gorgeous porch.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Marvin Olsen and Tim Honquest used to live in a gracious Victorian home in Portland's West End.

click image to enlarge

The exterior of Marvin Olsen and Tim Honquest's home, with wide steps leading up to the porch.

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The front porch of the 1914 Arts & Crafts house near Back Cove in Portland is 44 feet long, 10 feet wide, and supported by stately columns.

Additional Photos Below


LOCATION: Back Cove area, Portland

STYLE: Arts & Crafts-style home with a Shingle-style exterior

OWNERS: Tim Honquest and Marvin Olsen; Honquest works as an architectural interior designer

HISTORY: Built in 1914. Occupied by the same family until about 1980. Honquest and Olsen bought it in 2006 and found many period features intact, but have done much work refurbishing as well.

WHAT MAKES IT STAND OUT: A 44-foot-long front porch with shingled support columns; stained wood wainscoting and trim inside; reproduction Arts & Craft wallpaper and furnishings; a Prairie-style front staircase; a built-in window seat/nook area on the front stairway landing with a stained-glass window.

SURPRISING FEATURES: The living-room fireplace is one of a kind, featuring almost chocolate-colored brick as well as an arched opening and rounded brick corners; an original basement billiards room with a stained bead board ceiling; a stairway from the kitchen to a former maid's room; a second-floor "linen room" that provides lots of storage.


"OPEN HOUSE" is a monthly series in Home & Garden profiling eye-catching, historic or innovative homes around Maine.

TO SUBMIT a home for this series, contact Ray Routhier at or at 791-6454.

But it didn't have a porch.

When they first saw their current home -- a 1914 Arts & Crafts house near Back Cove -- it was the porch that first attracted them.

It's hard to miss. It's 44 feet long, 10 feet wide, and supported by stately shingled columns. "We always wanted a porch," said Olsen.

Not only is the porch inviting, it's enticing, giving visitors clues as to what's beyond the house's dark-stained front door with the large oval window. One specific clue on the porch is a wall section of brick -- the back of the living room fireplace.

Once inside, the fireplace is revealed to be a one-of-a-kind piece. The bricks are almost chocolate colored. Some are polished, some are rough, and some are rounded at the corners. Over the fireplace opening is an arch made of several rows of brick. The mantle has little "egg and dart" detailing made of stone.

"We had never seen one like this," said Honquest, who works as an architectural interior designer. "It looks to be something Louis Sullivan or Frank Lloyd Wright would have done."

Honquest and Olsen bought the house in 2006.

Although they've done a lot of work restoring it, many of the home's period features were still intact. Through his research on the house, Honquest found that it was built in 1914 for a Portland couple. The woman lived in it until about 1980.

Having the original owner in the house for such a long period was probably helpful in preserving features, including large original windows, the Prairie-style front stairway, a lovely window seat on the stairway landing, and beautiful woodwork and wainscoting throughout.

One surprising original feature is the billiards room in the basement, which has bead board walls, a stained bead board ceiling and a massive hanging radiator that looks like a gleaming Art Deco sculpture. Apparently, billiards was all the rage among well-to-do homeowners of the 1910s, but today, Honquest and Olsen use it more as a rec room.

In Victorian times, people didn't have a lot of clothes, so that's why Victorian homes often have tiny closets. But by the 1910s, people were starting to stock up on clothes and possessions, and one can see that by looking closely at Honquest and Olsen's house.

On the second floor, there's a "linen room" with floor-to-ceiling cabinets and shelves for linens, plus a space for the maid to do the ironing before putting the linens away. Today, that ironing spot is taken up by a washer and dryer.

There's also plenty of storage in the third-floor attic as well as the butler's pantry between the kitchen and dining room. The master suite includes a former nursery that is now used as sort of a giant walk-in closet.

One of the main things Honquest has tried to do is lighten the house up. Originally, the wooden floors and other woodwork were really, really dark. Some of the woodwork is now painted a lighter color, and the floors have a lighter stain on them.

Honquest finds period pieces for the house all over the country. He has a stock of stained-glass windows from Chicago. He's used one in the stairway window seat, another in the living room, and one over the tub in an upstairs bathroom.

While they've changed some wall colors, Honquest and Olsen left the Arts & Crafts reproduction wallpaper in the living room. Although it was probably hung in the 1980s, its motif of leaves against red background adds color and interest to the room while offsetting the fairly dark wood.

"I've always loved Arts & Crafts, and this house really has so many of those features," said Honquest.

And the fact that it had the same owner for more than 60 years helped keep a lot of those features intact.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: RayRouthier


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

The front entry and staircase of the house. Many period features were still intact when the current owners purchased the home.

click image to enlarge

The fireplace in the living room with its “egg and dart” detailing.

click image to enlarge

The living room, with its reproduction wallpaper, wainscoting and one-of-a-kind fireplace

click image to enlarge

A window seat between the entry and staircase

click image to enlarge

The bright dining room, with wood floors and white wainscoting


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)