The Raymond House where famous writer Nathaniel Hawthorne lived from around 1812 to 1825 is getting a makeover and could become a new location for the Lake District.
Abel Bates, a resident of Raymond who has been involved with the Hawthorne House Association since the early 1970s, said he looks forward to getting the most out of the house.
“We would like to use it more as a community center,” Bates said.
The organization has raised approximately $ 60,000 of a goal of $ 75,000 since 2019 to restore the home. Reconstruction efforts this summer included lifting the house to restore its foundation, excavating stone to be cut and made into veneer, and installing new heat pumps. Bates said the next phase will include the restoration of the siding and roofing.
The repairs will allow the house to benefit a number of organizations in the area, Bates said. In addition to the two or three events held each year by the Hawthorne House Association, Bates said he hopes the community can come together there.
The Raymond Arts Alliance, which has sponsored writing workshops, poetry readings, comedy and magic shows, community songs and concerts, is an organization that has an eye on the Hawthorne House.
“The community is really looking for a place to host events,” said Mary-Therese Duffy of the Raymond Arts Alliance. “My hope is that as their renovations Completed we can use it more fully.
Duffy said it was difficult for local organizations to come together as many “historic homes used for venues have been co-opted or become private property.”
While Bates said the pandemic made it difficult for the association to organize many in-person fundraisers, many people have stepped up and responded to mailings of donation requests.
“There are so many people who still care so much about the history of this little band out there,” said Mike Davis, deputy director of the Bridgton Historical Society.
Although the pandemic has been “very hard” on small museums, Davis stressed the role people who remained in their home communities over the past year and a half have had in their increased interest in local history.
“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword,” he said.
Davis said he was happy that the association founded in 1922 was finally taking drastic steps to keep the house permanently.
“It seems like every 40 or 50 years you will find a newspaper article describing the house as in ‘a state of disrepair’,” Davis said. “Even in the 1800s, people were saying ‘I would like someone to step up and do something to save them.’ There has never been enough money so far. It’s pretty incredible that he’s still standing today.
“It is truly noble what they are doing,” he said.
Bates said the Hawthorne House Association is planning a Halloween party, followed by its annual Christmas party. He would like to host a craft show this fall, but said it could be difficult if local artists have already booked times for the season. A calendar of events will be available soon, he said.
Hawthorne, who left Raymond to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, wrote “The Scarlett Letter”, “The House of Seven Gables”, “Twice-Told Tales” and many other novels and short stories in the 19th century.