1873 Plan for “a first-class summer resort” in Kennebunkport Maine

James Cruickshanks, Landscape Gardener / E. Cousens and W.S. Dennett, C[ivil] Eng[ineers] & Sur[veyor]s / J. Mayer & Co. Lith., PLAN OF CAPE ARUNDEL A SECTION OF THE LANDS OF THE BOSTON & KENNEBUNKPORT SEA SHORE CO. AT KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE. Boston, Feb. 15, 1873.
Lithograph on very thin paper, 20 ¾”h x 28”w at neat line plus margins, uncolored.
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A lovely and interesting plan promoting a real estate development in Kennebunkport Maine.

The plan depicts a “first-class summer resort” in a “situation [that] has not its equal on the coast.” It shows some 566 housing lots, hotel sites, and parks, all on a peninsula at the outlet of the Kennebunk River and blessed with stellar views of the Atlantic. Text at the lower right extolls the area’s accessibility and its scenic, recreational and other benefits. The whole is adorned by three pictorial vignettes of rather fanciful Victorian vacation cottages and another of a steamer, perhaps inbound from Boston.

The plan is very rare. As of September 2017 I know of only four institutional holdings and one in a private Maine collection. Antique Map Price Record notes an impression sold by High Ridge Books in the early 1990s, and this firm sold a wall-map version in 2015.

Background
As a byproduct of the extension of the Boston & Maine Railroad to Portland, a new station opened in Kennebunkport in 1873 and catalyzed the area’s development as a Summer resort. The largest player was the Boston & Kennebunkport Sea Shore Company:

“Real estate speculators from Massachusetts and Kennebunkport had purchased more than 700 acres of coastal land from Cape Porpoise to Lord’s Point. They opened the Ocean Bluff Hotel [on Cape Arundel] in 1873 with the intention of subdividing the land around it into closely packed cottage lots to be sold to wealthy businessmen. The hotel soon enjoyed healthy patronage but Kennebunkport’s infrastructure was not conducive to the ambitious cottage development the Boston & Kennebunkport Seashore Company had anticipated.

 

“Trains went only as far as Kennebunk Depot and the roads were not of a quality suitable to city folk. Boating was advertised as a recreational enticement but the river was not actually safe for inexperienced boaters.” (Sharon Cummins, “Cottagers claim Cape Arundel,” at seacoastonline.com)

Development on Cape Arundel apparently accelerated in the late 1880s, with the construction of an Episcopal Church and a major entertainment hall that that came to be known as the Arundel Casino. However, the grand vision of the Boston & Kennebunkport Sea Shore Company seems to have been only partly unrealized, as the only element of the original plan visible on a modern map is Ocean Avenue paralleling the coastline.

References
OCLC 879769505 gives impressions at the American Antiquarian Society, Clements Library, Columbia University (as of September 2017). Another example is held by the Osher Map Library and was exhibited there in 2000 in Worldly Treasures – A Fifth Anniversary Celebration. Not in Phillips, Rumsey or Thompson, Important Maine Maps, Books, Prints and Ephemera.

Condition

Minor discoloration and a few tiny losses along old folds and another tiny loss (burn hole?) in upper left quadrant, all apparent only on close inspection. Very good overall.