Henry Clark’s Cottages

Click on map for 200 dpi 8 inches wide            Architect, Henry Patson Clark had a significant influence on the character of Cape Arundel. His “Shingle Cottage” designs were cutting edge and reviewed in “American Architect and Building News”, the definitive architectural journal at the turn of the century.  The cottages were distinctive for their seamless skins of shingles uninterrupted by vertical trim. The style reflected a casual summer attitude that was a departure from the formal, dark elegance of the Victorian era. Sweeping, wide porches, well lit open floor plans and free-flowing shapes provided summer residents ample opportunities to enjoy the sunshine and ocean breezes.

Although he lived in Boston for most of his life, Clark had family ties to Kennebunkport.  His great Grandfather was Reverend Jonas Clark of Lexington Massachusetts. The Reverend was closely associated with John Hancock and Samuel Adams in events that led to the American Revolution.  His son Henry, born in 1780, was Henry Patson Clark’s grandfather. Henry came to Arundel in 1804 where he owned the Rope Walk and Rigging Loft on Ocean Avenue from 1811 until he sold it to Thomas Maling around 1840. This Henry’s son, Dr. Henry Grafton Clark of Boston was instrumental in planning Boston City Hospital. Henry Patson Clark, the architect, was Doctor Clark’s son.

Henry grew up in Boston and studied Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His skills were applied to nearly 30 buildings in Kennebunkport most of which were along the Kennebunk Riverbank. To add an interactive fillip to the discussion, Clark’s most notable works are numbered in the text, corresponding to numbered map locators on page 3.  During the early 1880’s Clark built himself a cottage, The Bunk, (1) and three other cottages nearby for rental or resale. One of these cottages, Greywood, (2), was later expanded for Margaret Deland. Another became the Lorin Deland Lodge, (3) and the third became the Manning Cottage (4) in 1887. During the same year Clark designed The Arundel Casino, (5) ( which later became part of The River Club) as a social gathering place for the summer colonists to enjoy parties,  theatricals and tennis. The hall bears a resemblance to the Rigging Loft Rope Walk to which Henry must have felt a special connection.

Some other notable examples of Henry Patson Clark’s work are The Parker House Hotel, (6) on Temple St which was demolished in 1936, The Sprague Cottage, (7) which he designed with renowned Oregon architect, Ion Lewis, The Bancroft Cottage, (8) Saint Martha’s Catholic Church, (9) on Maine Street, in the mission style, additions to the Nonantum, (10) and Bayberry Cove, (11) the beautiful stone and shingle cottage that seems to grow from the rocks at the water’s edge.

1906 brought a disastrous fire to the Clark studio in Boston. There was no insurance on the building and it was a total loss. Henry did manage to save some family heirlooms from the burning building. The financial blow did not slow him down for long. By 1912 he had a new studio building on the site of the old one at 110 Tremont Street.

Breakwater Court a.k.a. The Colony, (12) was the largest project undertaken by Clark.  It was built in 1914 on the site of Ocean Bluff, the hotel built in 1873 as part of the original Kennebunkport Seashore Company plan of Cape Arundel, which had since burned.  The design took him 4 years to complete. The front of the Hotel was fashioned after the west facade of Mt. Vernon and the project included kitchen and laundry buildings, staff housing and a large garage.

Henry Patson Clark died in Kennebunkport on September 6, 1927. He left a legacy that is still admired and imitated to this day.  He and his draftsman partner, John W. Russell can be credited with shaping much of the style and charm we enjoy daily as we drive along Ocean Avenue.

This article was originally published in The Log, Kennebunkport Historical Society's quarterly publication.  Copyright 2001-2006 Sharon Cummins