The old Cobb – Danforth farmhouse on Preble Street can be seen in this 19th century painting by Susan Graffam Boyd, granddaughter of Nathaniel Cobb and niece of Elizabeth Cobb Danforth. The old home is shown facing the road on the left side of the painting. South Portland Historical Society photo

 

 

 

In February, I wrote about the family that settled in the area that is now Danforth Cove. As I’ve been working this past week on several collections related to Danforth Cove, I thought I would share a little bit more information that will bring us closer to current day.

This is the newer home that was the residence of Willard and Sarah G. Danforth Woodbury. This home that stood at 566 Preble Street is believed to have replaced the old farmstead. South Portland Historical Society

As I had written, there was a homestead farm in the early 1800s in the area that is now Loveitt’s Field and Danforth Cove, that belonged to Nathaniel Cobb and his wife, Anna Mitchell Cobb.

Nathaniel and Anna’s daughter, Elizabeth Cobb, married Aaron Danforth, Jr. in 1836. Aaron and Elizabeth ended up living in the old Cobb homestead, which now became known as the Danforth homestead. Aaron and Elizabeth’s daughter, Sarah Graffam Danforth grew up in the family home. After she married Willard R. Woodbury in 1883, they lived in a home in the same area (we can’t be sure if their home covered the exact footprint of the original farmhouse, but it was certainly very close).

Sarah G. Danforth Woodbury’s home was at 566 Preble Street, just opposite Woodbury Street.

Eugene Bremon and his wife also lived at 566 Preble St., however, in this much larger and modern home. We can’t be sure of the timing of when the former house was removed and replaced by this home, but we believe it was close after the time that Bremon bought the property in 1914. The house no longer exists. South Portland Historical Society

Sarah Danforth Woodbury was the last family member to own the land that would become known as Danforth Cove. She named the land in honor of her parents and sold the whole parcel to C. Eugene Bremon in 1914. At some point, summer cottages had been built all over the acreage along the waterfront there.

Eugene Bremon operated this business of renting out the 29 cottages to families who made Danforth Cove their residence in the summer, but who would move back to their homes in Portland and elsewhere during the winter.

It was Harry E. Baker who had the vision to take this summer colony and turn it into a year-round residential neighborhood.

According to Baker’s family members, Harry Baker was well known as a family man and an honest businessman. In 1928, he bought the entire parcel from Bremon, including all 29 summer homes, and set about his plan to either winterize or build new year-round homes in an upscale neighborhood.

He had no intent to lease the cottages, rather he started selling off each property, often selling to the very families who were renting them. These families that now owned the homes immediately began putting in gardens and doing other work to improve their properties.

Looking at the deeds for many of the lot sales, it is interesting to see that Baker would often put in a 10-year clause that would require the new owner to invest a minimum amount in any new home construction or renovation. It was his attempt to ensure that only upscale homes would be built in that neighborhood.

Sarah G. Danforth Woodbury sitting in her home at 566 Preble St. South Portland Historical Society

Do you have photographs to share that show some of the people and places that make up South Portland’s past? Please contact South Portland Historical Society at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106, by phone at 207-767-7299, or by email at [email protected] Thank you.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is director of the South Portland Historical Society.

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