Prince-Drowne House, Cumberland

In 1907, Elizabeth Drowne gave a remarkable late 18th century house and 100 acres to the Town of Cumberland. The Georgian-style residence she inherited from her father, now known as the Prince-Drowne House, is believed to be the oldest surviving house in Cumberland today. While the surrounding acreage eventually became the Town Forest, the house itself was sold. It passed through a variety of successive owners and gradually fell into disrepair. Numerous parties, including Maine Preservation,  repeatedly tried to acquire it. Fortunately, Flying Point Construction was eventually able to buy it from the family trust and begin rehabilitation.

The scope of their project practically defines the term ‘extensive’! While the house retained many of its original features including Georgian paneling, trim and stair as well as the large central kitchen hearth, it suffered from serious neglect. The roof needed total replacement and three of the four original sills were rotted; one so much that the façade had started to collapse. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, there were no mechanical systems to speak of and the house was in dire need of modern insulation. Luckily, a structural inspection proved that much of the original post and beam framing was intact. Flying Point took pains to preserve and expose the frame, and with the help of Tom Poulin and New Energy Solutions, installed all new electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Flying Point also refurbished and re-mounted many of  the original interior moldings and wood trim and made the house as energy efficient as possible using dense pac cellulose. They even installed a 9kw solar array.

In order to make the house livable for modern needs a new addition was constructed for additional living space and a garage. To make way for this addition the home’s original timber frame barn was relocated to a new foundation and completely restored. Transition points between the original home and new addition were thoughtfully merged by repurposing some original woodwork for use as paneling, benches, counters and flooring. To top this amazing project off, the original chimneys and fireplaces – even the bee hive oven – were completely restored.

With the help of their amazing team of talented craftsmen led by Flying Point Construction, owners Paul Moutol and Maryane Burns turned a forlorn early 18th-century farmhouse into a stunning modern home that retains much of the original fabric. The house has now been sold to new stewards who have moved in and are already enjoying this phenomenal property. The newly reborn Prince-Drowne House is a testament to the power of innovative preservation, and a treasure that residents of Cumberland will admire for generations to come.