Recently I started something I had wanted to do since I purchased the Atlantic Birches Inn Bed and Breakfast building in 2001. Exploring the history of the building in Old Orchard Beach Maine has become fun, fascinating, fulfilling and very time consuming for me these last few weeks. It has provided me insight into some of the building previous uses, previous owners, the neighborhood, the surrounding community and the building’s possible Architect and original owners.
The building was built in 1902 supposedly by renowned Shingle Victorian Architect John Calvin Stevens. John Calvin Stevens (Oct 8, 1855 – Jan 25, 1940) was an American Architect who worked in two related styles — the Shingle Victorian, in which he was a major innovator, and the Colonial Revival style, which dominated national domestic architecture for the first half of the 20th century. He designed more than 1,000 buildings in the state of Maine. The building was built for the original home owners Mr. Thomas L. Cleaves and Berea S. (Sylvester) Cleaves and family. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaves owned and operated the Cleaves Hotel and Restaurant and Bowling Alley along Old Orchard Street that were destroyed in THE GREAT FIRE AT OLD ORCHARD in 1907.
The buildings features are pretty much the same now as to when it was built in 1902. The building is in the historic overlay of the town and requires approval from the Design Review Committee for any major feature changes. I still have a long way to go to verify the original owners and certify that the building was designed and built by John Calvin Stevens. My next task is to check archived newspapers at the Saco Dyer Librarydating back to 1900 to look for announcements on the planned construction of the building by John Calvin Stevens for the Cleaves Family.