Thomaston History 

Thomaston 2014 Summer Holiday Home Tour

Click on photograph to enlarge
The William Keith House

The Thomaston Historical Society
Presents its second annual
Summer Holiday House Event

The William Keith House
88 Main Street
Thomaston, Maine
Saturday, July 12th, 2014

1 to 4 P.M.

A tour of the house
 with light refreshments served.

Adults $8 per person, $5 each for members, $3 each for children under age 18, children, if carried, free
50% of the proceeds from this event will benefit the
Thomaston Historical Society's
fund dedicated to making repairs to our
1794 home known as
The Knox Farmhouse Museum,
the only remaining original building of the
General Henry Knox estate.
The other 50% will be applied to the
museum's acquisitions fund.

We wish to thank Diana Beach
for opening this beautiful town treasure
to the public for this event.

Click on photograph to enlarge

Click on photograph to enlarge

Click on photograph to enlarge

In 1829 architect  William Keith purchased  rights to conduct water from a spring via an aqueduct  across the property of Joseph Barry across the street on the northern side of Old County Road (now called Main Street ).

In 1836 Keith purchased a three acre lot for $1,250 on the south side of the street from the trustees of the John Gleason Estate. Benjamin Bussey's land bordered on the east and the southern boundary was Gleason Street. The house currently standing to the east (84 Main Street) was occupied by Samuel Fuller at the time and it was sold to him by Keith to years later.

There is no record of when Keith built this outstanding Greek Revival but it is assumed to have been between 1830 and 1840. The form epitomizes this architectural style with its perfect symmetry and the gable end to the street, embellished by the columned porch with balustrades along the top. The current dormer configurations on either side were added at a later date, replacing three separate dormers as pictured in a circa 1870 Fernald photograph.

William Keith married Anne M. Smith of Bangor on October 3, 1842. He was a successful merchant, builder and secretary of M. F. Insurance Co. which was located on the second floor of a building he constructed at the Lower Corner (current business district), known as the Keith Block. The building was destroyed by fire in 1891 and replaced by the Vinal Block. According  to his obituary , Keith was a prominent businessman in Thomaston engaging in trade and lime burning. He was one of the founders of the Thomaston Bank and served as a bank Director until shortly before his death.

After Keith's death in 1881, the estate was sold at auction to Captain Obed Andrews from St. George. As a sea captain of many vessels, his was a long and adventure filled life at sea. At one time he was washed overboard but thrown back aboard with the next wave. His wife and daughter accompanied him on voyages and in 1897 they had narrow escape from suffocation by coal gas as they prepared to sail from Portland for South America. Captain Andrews fought in the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.

Dr. Austin Thomas, physician and surgeon, and his wife Mary bought the house in 1899 when Captain Andrews returned to St. George with his second wife. The doctor advertised office hours of 8-9 a.m., 1-2 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. at his home. He resold within two years to Jennie and Edward Stearns, editor of the Thomaston Herald. It is said that Mr. Stearns had one of the first automobiles in town, a red touring car.

Subsequent owners were Nancy and Dr. Eban Alden, physician, and then Dr. Frederick Dennison and his wife, Margaret, of Rochester, New York. During his tenure there was a destructive fire requiring extensive restoration work. Other owners have included George and Ruth Murray; Margaret Patterson; Norman and Norma Kalloch; Dr. Howard G Seymour and his wife Judy; Grace Kirkland who operated  a B & B during her residency; James Gregg and his wife, Ariana Fischer.

Current owner, Diana Beach, has painstakingly restored the exterior balustrades and used off-white paint that would have been available in the early 19th century.   

Click on photograph to enlarge

A special note of thanks to Margaret McCrea for supplying a history of the house and its many owners.


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