Friday, August 13, 2010

Wedding Cake House to Open Again for Tours

Kennebunk’s Most Famous House will be open for Public Tours Aug. 15 through Sept. 15, 2010.
Jimmy Barker, owner of the Wedding Cake House on Summer Street in Kennebunk, has announced that his home will be open for Public Tours beginning Aug. 15, 2010. This is only the second time in the history of the house that it has been opened for Public tours.
The house, which is world renowned for its gothic trim that adds a frosting look to the Federal Style home, has been photographed and painted countless times by amateurs and professionals alike. From postcards beginning in the early 20th Century to contemporary coffee table books and wall paintings, this ship builder’s home is easily recognized by locals and tourists.
It was built by George Washington Bourne; he and his wife Jane moved into the home in late 1825 or early 1826. He had been raised in the home next door and both homes were in the midst of the Landing Road shipbuilding. His father had been one of the foremost shipbuilders of the times and George later joined his father in the family business renamed John Bourne & Son. Later when his father retired the business was changed to Bourne & Kingsbury to reflect the addition of his brother-in-law into the family business. The two partners grew the business and were well-known for their business astuteness. George was also active in the Unitarian Church, commonly now known as First Church in the upper village of Kennebunk.
In the early 1850’s the ship building industry decreased in the Kennebunk area and George retired from the business in 1852. Shortly after that the house’s barn burned and George took to rebuilding and as he did he decided to add Gothic buttresses, pinnacles and other elements inspired by the Cathedral at Milan, Italy. He liked the look and continued with an assistant to add this decoration to the house itself.
In 1855, George, his wife, their daughter Lucy, and a niece Lizzie Bourne took a family vacation to Mount Washington, where his niece died and George’s health deteriorated as a result of his efforts to save her. He died the following year but his wife continued living in the home for another 40 years. Her daughter Lucy predeceased her and the house was inherited by the grandson, George Bourne Lord. Following his death, his wife continued to own the house until it was sold to Mary and Anne Burnett in 1983. The Burnett’s were not related to the Bourne family but they loved historical homes and made a major renovation of the house.
In 1998, Jimmy Barker and Kenneth Douglas bought the home and filled it with antiques and treasures of interest from their own lives. In 2005 the owners opened their home for Public Tours as a benefit for the Katrina Relief Fund. The current tours will help to benefit area food banks.
The tours will run Aug. 15 through Sept. 15 daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission will be $10 per person. The home is not handicap accessible and parking is free on the grounds of the property. Ticket sales will be in the barn on the day of the purchase. FMI call 207-251-6968.
Photo caption: The Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk will open for tours from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15. Proceeds will benefit local food pantries. (Courtesy photo)