This house is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. A coachman named Simeon P. Huntress (1844-1923) bought this property in 1877 along with land once part of the Raynes Farm, and moved with his wife and young family into what was then a fashionable new house.
Huntress owned a nearby livery shop in a complex of buildings that had once been the Raynes shoe shop at the site of the present Portland Street Mobil. The Huntress business, called Eagle Stables, is shown below with the oval sign in the background of this late 19th century photo taken from Central Square, looking down Portland Street.
Eagle Stables boarded horses and offered carriages for hire, and provided transportation before the advent of trolleys and automobiles. It was also situated next to the Engine House of the fire department. Huntress was South Berwick's fire chief in 1892-92, according to the Maine Business Directory.
Huntress's horse-drawn carriages to the beach were called the York Beach Daily Stage Line.
Photo courtesy South Berwick Library
The Grace Darling , an “omnibus” owned by Huntress, carried riders from downtown South Berwick to York Beach during the summer time.
During the 1880s this vehicle offered “mass transit” before the arrival of the trolley system, and would have been popular with mill workers who did not own horses and carriages but wanted to escape to the beach on their day off from work at the Cummings Shoe Factory, the Portsmouth Manufacturing Company, or the Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company in Rollinsford.
It is not known how Huntress chose the name Grace Darling for his vehicle, but the name Darling appears in the local Huntress family. Vital records show Darling Huntress died in 1815 at the age of 85, though his relationship to Simeon Huntress is a mystery. In Simeon's day, Grace Darling was renowned as an English heroine stationed with her father at a lighthouse; she supposedly risked her life rescuing the crew and passengers from a shipwreck in 1838.
Marked "HUNTRESS – SOUTH BERWICK" across the top, the Grace Darling was preserved in the 20th century, and became part of the collection of the Long Island Museum of Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook, NY.
The Huntress family. Shortly after the construction of their new house, Huntress' first wife, Hannah, died at age 41, leaving an 8-year old son, Fred, and perhaps other children. On February 25, 1889 he married 32-year-old Sabra Evans of Lyman. At left, Simeon and Sabra Huntress are shown riding in a Portland Street parade in 1897.
The Huntresses were active in South Berwick's civic life. At a parade sponsored by the South Berwick Board of Trade around the turn of the century, these young women rode the Huntress Buckboard, a four-wheeled light open carriage with an innovative spring system.
Sabra Huntress died in 1905. Fred A. Huntress, Simeon's son who had grown up in the house, died in 1911 at age 36. Simeon lived until 1923. They are all buried together at Woodlawn Cemetery.
The Huntress House now contains the office of Bruce A. Whitney, attorney at law.
(This article was revised in January 2010.)