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BATH — York Hall, considered by some to be an architectural triumph in the City of Ships, is being sold by the fourth owners in the home’s 114-year history.
The asking price is a record-setting $1.95 million.
The 1 Edward St. property was purchased in 2005 by Jeff Harris – whose company, Harris Golf, owns or operates eight Maine golf courses – and his wife, Laurel. The declared sale price then was $1.25 million, which city Assessor and Assistant City Manager Paul Mateosian on Tuesday said is believed to be the highest price ever for a residential property in Bath.
A house at 54 Cardinal Road would also top the 2005 record, if it sells for the asking price of “only” $1.45 million.
“It’s pretty remarkable, really,” Mateosian said, noting that for a long time, Bath did not break the million-dollar mark in residential sales. “… I guess some towns have million-dollar properties frequently, but I think it’s kind of a new phenomenon here.”
“The thing about York Hall is, it’s so architecturally accurate still,” he said. “There’s nothing (that has) been tampered with there; it’s all in good shape. It has all of its original architectural features.”
Calvin Coolidge, 29th president of the U.S. from 1923-1929, reportedly stayed at York Hall for a week, and a bedroom there is named for him. Harris said Coolidge may have been there for Sumner Sewall’s wedding, which took place at York Hall in 1929.
That wedding was one of more than 40 to have been held in York Hall’s first 100 years, Harris said.
“None of them have ever ended in divorce,” he noted.
The 7,440-square-foot Georgian Revival house, which comes with a historic carriage house on its 1.6 acres, was designed by Peabody & Stearns of Boston for William Dunning Sewall. Sewall’s father, Arthur, was William Jennings Bryan’s running mate in the 1896 presidential election. His son, Sumner, was governor of Maine from 1941-1945, during World War II.
Harris said the shipbuilding Sewall family “owned about a dozen mansions here on Washington Street. … Very, very prolific, very wealthy. … They not only built the ships, they operated the ships, they moved the freight, they invested in railroads, they were all over the place.”
According to Sagadahoc Preservation, which has a self-guided walking tour of key Bath houses, both York Hall and Sumner Sewall were christened on Aug. 5, 1897. York Hall is at the corner of Edward and Washington streets.
Harris and his wife bought the property from Richard and Kathryn Klingaman, who Harris said were the home’s third owners. Before that it was owned by George Baer Connard and his wife, Clarabell.
Harris said he and his wife attended private parties, fundraisers and a wedding at York Hall before deciding to buy it.
According to sewallgenealogy.com, Sumner Sewall’s ancestor, Capt. Samuel Sewall, settled in York circa 1708. His son, Col. Dummer Sewall, was born there in 1737, moved to what is now Bath in possibly 1762, and became the first postmaster.
Harris is from Portland and plans to move closer to the city. Three of the Harris’ five children are in college and the family is trying to downsize. He also said his business, which used to own the Bath Country Club, is becoming more centralized in the Portland area.
But the Harrises admit they’ll be leaving behind a special place, with history and a legacy that has been respected and meticulously preserved by its occupants.
“We’re just custodians; we just live here,” Harris said. “The house has its own attitude and personality and attraction. It’s really something.”
Laurel and Jeff Harris, who purchased York Hall in Bath in 2005, have put the 1897 landmark up for sale.