Thursday, June 23, 2016

Raymond's Nathaniel Hawthorne House celebrates summer - By Walter Lunt

Art, strawberries and a committed group of local preservationists are among the entities that support one of the oldest and most historically significant houses in the lakes region. Built in 1812 and now listed on the Historic Register, Hawthorne House, located in Raymond at the corner of Cape and Hawthorne Roads, was the childhood home of famed 19th century writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The two story Georgian/Federal hybrid style house is being preserved by the non-profit Hawthorne Community Association, a devoted group of neighborhood citizens and others “from away” totaling nearly 150 members.

Repairs and maintenance on a historic house can be costly, particularly when they are carried out in the “period correct” manner. And that is where the fundraising comes into the picture. John Manoush, an association trustee said at least three important events are scheduled for this summer. 

On Saturday, June 25 beginning at 6:30 p.m., the Association will hold their annual strawberry festival at Hawthorne House. This year’s speaker is historian Steven Rogers, who will present original research on the topic of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Shakers. The program will be followed by a social hour and homemade strawberry shortcake.

“It’s local strawberries, fresh whipped cream and homemade shortbread,” said trustee Melanie Champniss. Coffee and punch are included. Donations are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 8 years. All proceeds go to preserve and maintain Hawthorne House.

On July 15 and 16 (Friday and Saturday) the association will host a first ever art show and sale at the historic house from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Several local artists will present for view and for sale several forms of art. Jessica Bates will feature her line drawings, quash and poster-sized tapestry photographs. Libby Welch will show landscape and oil paintings. And Sharon Renk will present watercolor paintings of land and seascapes. Other artists are expected to participate. The event is free.
Trustee Champniss said “Hawthorne House is still vital,” and sponsors many events throughout the year including book club discussions. Patrons should also check local newspapers and the association website for the date and location of the annual chicken barbecue.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of several American classics including The Scarlet Letter  and House of Seven Gables spent summers at the Raymond house from age 9 until he entered Bowdoin College in 1821, about 8 years. He is known to have hunted the area and fished Sebago Lake and Thomas Pond. In later years he wrote in a letter to his sister, “I shall never again run wild in Raymond, and I shall never be so happy as when I did.”

Manoush said the Hawthorne family moved to Salem, Massachusetts following Nathaniel’s graduation from Bowdoin in 1825. The house became a tavern on the local stagecoach line.  At some point in the mid-19th century until 1921 it became a church meeting house. In that year the Hawthorne Community Association was formed for the purpose of preserving the historical significance of the property. more information on the house, its history and fund raising events go to

In the Photos: 
 John Manoush, Melanie Champniss and Basil Champniss pose with "Nathaniel" at Raymond's Hawthorne House on Raymond Neck. Visitors can sometimes get their picture taken with the famous author, but apparently he is unavailable for book signings.

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