I admit that this tour is a bit of a tease as I did not actually get to see inside (so, I promise a part II some day!). It was pouring rain the day I stopped by the Tate House. Knowing it was closed, I thought perhaps I might be able to snap a few views form the street. However, I had the good fortune of running into the chairman of the board. He gave me a plan of the colonial-style garden (a riot of roses, lavender, sweet basil, and scented geranium), and graciously allowed me to walk around the property.
The Tate House was built in 1755 on a hilltop overlooking the Fore River in Portland, Maine, and the city’s once bustling mast yards. Maine was then the primary source of white pine, prized for its use as ship masts. George Tate came to Portland, along with his wife Mary, to serve as Mast Agent for the British Navy, overseeing the export of white pine to the great shipyards of England.
Tate modeled his Georgian-style home after the fashionable townhouses of London. At the time, it was exceptional for its grand size, innovative gambrel roof, and windowed third story. Though it is now dwarfed by neighboring Victorians and rambling townhouses, the house remains a relatively intact example of colonial architecture. Most extraordinary of all, the clapboards have never been painted!