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At Cumberland Mills, in the midst of the large Warren (or Cumberland) Block, sits a small white Cape Cod-style house.  This house was built around 1828 by Nathan Harris.  An 1828 deed states that Mr. Harris purchased about an acre of land at the point between the road from Portland to Saccarappa (Main Street) and the road to Windham leading over the Congin Bridge (Cumberland Street).  The seller was Aaron Winslow and the purchase price was $175.  Mr. Harris is listed as a trader and real estate dealer and was also a teacher at the old North School, which was at the corner of Bridge and Pierce Street. [See Photo Archives page, ‘School Days’, to learn more about North School.]

Nathan Harris built a country store and two houses on this Congin site and ran the store until his death in 1847.  Although Fabius Ray’s book states that he was called “old Nathan Harris” by the locals, he was only 42 when he died on November 1, 1847. He is buried in Saccarappa Cemetery, although his stone could not be found when the cemetery was last transcribed.

In 1856 the property was sold to Frank Pride and continued as a private residence. Frank also took over Harris’ store.  In 1880, Frank’s sons sold the property to S.D. Warren Company.   The store and one house was razed in 1882 to make room for the construction of Cumberland Hall.  The remaining house was occupied by Warren employees for many years. 

By 1991 the house had fallen into disrepair and was put up for bankruptcy auction. It was purchased by Ray Pallas, Esq. who proceeded to renovate the building and re purposed it as a law office.  While restoring the interior, he and his wife discovered well preserved hand-painted murals on many of the walls. These murals are thought to have been done in the 1830s by a traveling artist who would received board and lodging for his work.  Comparative analysis of the murals with similar works of known itinerant painters suggest that they may be the work of either Sturtevant J. Hamblen or William Matthew Prior.  Both of these men were known to have worked in the Portland area in the 1830s.

This triangle of land has undergone many changes over the years; the bandstand and railroad tracks are gone and a large multi-use building was erected here in 2022, but the Harris House has remained, tucked into its original space.   In 2023, as was the desire of Mr. Pallas, this property was donated to the Westbrook Historical Society by the remaining Pallas family members.  The Society is currently in the process of restoring, maintaining and preserving this building as a piece of early Westbrook history.


.Dining room mural over fireplace..


Upstairs murals
References: House Survey NB, Story of Westbrook by F.M. Ray, Highlights of Westbrook History, Portland Newspaper articles
All photographs and information taken from Westbrook Historical Society archives, unless otherwise noted.
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