The Portland Museum of Art will go before Scarborough’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday to object to a proposal to build a house on a lot next to the historic Winslow Homer studio at Prouts Neck.

The museum owns the studio and is restoring it to its condition when the painter lived and worked there a century ago.

The estate of Doris Homer, which owns five lots surrounding the studio, has received a permit to build a home to the right of the studio, when facing the ocean.

The museum holds an easement for a septic system on one of the Homer estate’s lots, and is appealing the town’s issuance of the building permit on the grounds that construction could infringe on its easement.

“As a public institution, we are responsible to protect the rights of the studio for the people of Maine and American history and to preserve the location where Winslow Homer lived and worked for future generations,” said Mark Bessire, the museum’s director, in a statement.

The museum filed the appeal, he said, “as part of our responsibility for stewarding and protecting the rights of the Winslow Homer Studio property and its easement, not to in any way diminish the property rights of others.”

David Grysk, code enforcement officer, said a group of neighbors also has objected to the building permit. The zoning board will hear the objections at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall.

The Doris Homer Estate got a building permit to explore the possibility of building a home on one of its five lots. The estate owns lots on either side of the studio, and in front of the studio toward the ocean.

The museum’s property does not extend to the water line, but its septic system easement extends into the Doris Homer Estate lot immediately in front of studio. The building permit would allow a home to be built to the right and toward the ocean, Grysk said.

Doris Homer, who died in March 2009, was married to Charles L. Homer, a nephew of the painter.

In an interview, Bessire said the museum is concerned about preserving the area to ensure the integrity of the studio. A new home could detract from the experience of visiting the studio, he said. But the appeal is based on the museum’s interest in protecting its easement.

“If a home were built there, it certainly has the possibility of being a big deal,” Bessire said. “We don’t want to diminish anybody’s right, but we are obligated to stand up for the rights of our easement. We are obligated to the protect the studio for generations to come.”

The museum’s preservation and conservation efforts at the studio will continue into 2012.


Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: [email protected]

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