By Jim KanakNorth Berwick got an early look at the newly renovated Hurd Manor on April 30 as new owners Ben Gumm and Sally McLaren hosted the 50th anniversary celebration of the North Berwick Historical Society. The iconic Victorian mansion will soon open its doors as the Angel of the Berwicks, an upscale Bed and Breakfast. Gunn and McLaren have spent the past four years restoring the manor to its former elegant self. While the couple has renovated other places in their careers, the Hurd Manor was different.
NORTH BERWICK —
NORTH BERWICK —
“This one is bigger than ever,” McLaren said of the project. “The sheer size of it for one thing makes it different. And because it’s so old, we needed to do renovations to bring it up to code but still wanted to keep the aesthetics intact.”
The result of the efforts is a building that closely resembles the original structure built in 1893 by North Berwick Industrialist Mary Hurd. The 25-room mansion retains its classic woodwork, stained glass windows, fireplaces, and 11-foot high decoratively painted ceilings and gilded plaster friezes. There will be five guest rooms and suites in the house and an additional suite in the Carriage House, the original home on the property before the mansion was built.
The first floor is highlighted by the music room, the largest room in the house. It is dominated by a fireplace with a spectacular mahogany mantle. “It’s unique because it is a double columned mantel, which is very rare,” said Gumm. “And there’s the ceramic tile. It’s all original. All the ceilings are decorative. They were painted over. In the 1970s, the owners scraped off the paint until they got down to one corner (of the original). They used that as a template and recreated the pattern. The original pattern was reproduced.”
The exterior of the mansion got a face lift also. It’s yellow with gray trim was changed to mulberry with a bright plum trim.
“It’s on the National Historic Register,” McLaren said. “That gives you a lot of freedom, unlike being in a historic district. As long as you leave things like slate roofs, it’s OK (to change things). We tried to update it in a way that you’re not going to walk in and say ‘Oh, this is new’.”
The connection with Mary Hurd is evident immediately upon entering. There’s a photo in the main entry way that pictures Hurd, her second husband, Daniel, and step daughter, Margaret Hobbs. McLaren said keeping that connection is important. “Mary is on the Register of Historic People,” she said. “She was one of the first female industrialists. So, it’s not only the house (that’s historic), but also the person.”
This is the couple’s first project in Maine. Previously, they renovated and ran an inn in Bethlehem, N.H. Prior to that they lived in southern Connecticut where they renovated three historic homes.
This home has particular significance to North Berwick’s history, so using it to host the Historical Society’s anniversary was important, McLaren said. “They are very supportive of what we’re doing,” she said. “This building and Mary Hurd helped make North Berwick what it is today. She was the benefactress of the school, bank, fire station, and library.”
Indeed, many of the Society’s members attending the celebration acknowledged the building’s symbolic value. Society President Royal Cloyd was one of those that did so.
“This was started by David Brooks, who restored it and it went onto the National Registry,” Cloyd said. “These people have now restored it so magnificently. It’s interesting for both its history and its architecture. It’s a spectacular piece of late 19th century architecture.”
Gumm and McLaren still have a few minor things to finish, but the building is essentially complete. They hope to open for business by Memorial Day. After four years of work, the end is in sight.
“There’s still so much of the original architecture,” McLaren said. “There are three sets of original pocket doors. None of it was taken or destroyed.”
The Hurd Manor is located at 2 Elm Street, at the intersection of Routes 9 and 4. FMI about the inn, contact Gumm at 207-676-2133.
Photo caption: The newly renovated Hurd Manor in North Berwick is set to open as the Angel of the Berwicks Bed and Breakfast. (Courtesy photo)