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History of Bibber Memorial Chapel

History of the George Wise House 1868,
current home of Bibber Memorial Chapel, Kennebunk, Maine

This site, at the junction of the present Sea Road and Route 35, was an important one for residents of the Kennebunk District of Wells (the Second Parish of Wells, as it was also called). It was part of an early grant made to Thomas Muzzey by the town, and was acquired by Waldo Emerson (R-12), an early, and important, settler at The Landing. Emerson sold it to Joseph Churchill in 1773.

Churchill, a merchant, built a store here. Bourne' s History of Wells and Kennebunk, pg. 477, says, "Joseph Churchill kept a store where George Wise lives. He had a quantity of tea [during the period of the Revolutionary War], but traffic in it was unsafe business." Remich, in his History, (pg. 364) noted, "We do not know what became of [Churchill's] store; possibly it was converted into a dwelling house a few years later by Daniel Wise who became owner of the land on which it stood."

Churchill sold the site to Moses Hubbard in 1776, and Hubbard sold 5 acres to Daniel Wise in 1787 with buildings. According to Remich (pg. 364-65), "Clark and Condy, from Portland, we are told had a store in Wise's house. Wise had probably built the main house and occupied it and leased the ell to C. and C." [They soon moved to a new store further uptown.]

Bourne (pg. 763) says "Daniel Wise built the large store which a few years past was removed." Remich (pg. 364-65) says the following about the Daniel Wise store.

        A few rods distant from the [Daniel Wise] house was a store, probably built about the same time as the [house] in which Wise traded awhile. This was sold in after years to a Mr. Young by whom it was moved several rods westward and converted into a dwelling. [See further details at L-37.)

In 1843, at Daniel Wise' s death, his property passed to his wife, Hannah, and, in 1848, to his son, George Wise. It was George who in 1848 sold the land at L-37 and the store and a barn "to be moved onto" L-37.

In 1868 George Wise sold his father' s house, to be moved, and built the present house on the site. Remich (pg. 364- 65) says George Wise "sold the main house which was moved to the Eastern Depot, West Kennebunk, and the ell which was removed to the west side of the Mousam [River]. Andrew Walker, Kennebunk's diarist, recorded the stages of that evolution in the pages of his diary.

        3/4/1868 George Wise this week advertised his house, barn, and outbuilding for sale. The building [sic] are to be sold without the land. The advertisement says "they must and will be removed by the 1st of April next." He says that he has contracted with men in Portland to build a house for him on the spot where his present house stands. This old house appears to be in good condition, but being out of style, he wishes a modern house with modern improvements.

        3/12/1868 Mr. George Wise has contracted to have a fashionable residence with a French roof and other modern improvements, erected this season, on the site, now in part occupied by his present house.

        3/19 George Wise has sold the one story part of his house to Phillips and to day about forty yokes of oxen hauled the house to the western side of the river, on a lot near the District School house. [NOTE: This ell is the house at 1 Swan Street, Kennebunk, 1992] I hear that Phillips paid $225 for the house. It is supposed that the house will cost about $325 on the lot, if the teamsters do not charge anything for the oxen.

        4/16/1868 The buildings which George Wise said "must and will be removed by the 1st of April next" have not been removed, only one of them. Mr. Phillips bought the small part and moved it over the river. The large two story part has not been sold or moved. It is said Mr. Wise asks $500 for it on the spot, which is considered too much.

        7/2/1868 The outside of George Wise's house is now nearly finished. The house is to be heated by steam conveyed by iron pipes through the building. Mr. Wise says the steam boiler and apparatus cost him $1000.

        5/11/1869. Mr. George Wise has sold the large part of his .old house to John W. Tredwell for the reported sum of $225. Mr. Tredwell has moved the house out from the old site to the side of the road where it now stands. He expects to move it to a lot near the railway [West Kennebunk].

        6/8/1869 George Wise's house is finished and furnished,

        6/--/1869 On June 8 J. W. Tredwell moved [the house] with 40 yoke of oxen.

In August, 1869, Walker recorded that George Wise had built his barn or stable.

The George Wise house still stands on this site and is the Bibber family funeral home. Although a one- story addition was added to the back ell, with a side entrance, for their convenience, the house is still essentially the same as when the Bibbers acquired it. Inside a wall has been removed between the dining room and parlor to provide a large viewing parlor, but the fireplaces, the silver door hinges, the black walnut paneled front vestibule, the front hall stairway, etc., are all intact. The builder who did this work, in the 1980s, was Martin Van Buren Wildes of Kennebunkport.

In 1949 the property passed to Willard P. Deane. It was probably during his ownership that the house was a guest house called "The Willard." A postcard of The Willard is owned by The Brick Store Museum, and reveals that at some point a second story was added to the original one story rear ell, which had a Mansard roof like the main house.



1773 1/1 Bk 43/48 Waldo Emerson to Joseph Churchill. Land.

1774 Joseph Churchill's store was on this site.

1776 12/17 Bk 48/36 Joseph Churchill to Moses Hubbard. Land.

1787 9/19 Bk 51/41 Moses Hubbard to Daniel Wise. 5 acres with buildings.

1787 Clark and Condy of Portland had a store in Daniel Wise' s house.

1788 Daniel Wise built a large store a "few rods distant" from his house.

1789 3/9 Bk 52/95 Tabytha Hubbard to Daniel Wise. Land with house and barn.

1843 7/3 Probate #20662. Daniel Wise. Will, dated 9/1/1842. "To wife Hannah 1/2 2-story house in which I now live on the N end with privilege in kitchen to wash and cook...for her natural life." The remainder..., after bequests to other children, to son George Wise.

1848 4/4 Bk 200/310 and 311. George Wise to Joseph Young and Joseph Walker. Wise took mortgage. Three parcels of land plus store and barn on L-35 "to be moved onto one of the pieces of land."

1856 1856 wall map. George Wise.

1859 1/5 Probate 20662. Daniel Wise. Affidavit declaring George Wise only living child of Daniel.

1868 March through July. Andrew Walker Diary. George Wise sold part of his father's house to be moved off site, and built present house. See narrative above.

1869 May through August. Andrew Walker Diary. George Wise sold remaining piece of his father's house, which was moved, and built his barn/ stable.

1872 1872 atlas. George Wise.

1892-95 3/-- Probate #20665. George Wise. Will dated 1/23/1892. "To wife Georgiana W. Wise use and occupancy of my homestead on which I now live in Kennebunk during her natural life." Bequests of family portraits, etc. to grandson Stuart W. Wise.

1895 12/23 Bk 473/154 Stuart W. Wise to John T. Ward. Land with buildings. "Devised to me by will George Wise...."

1938 4/4 Bk 916/144 Frank W. Ward heirs to William W. Durnall. Interest of grantor acquired under will Annie L. Ward, late, Kennebunk, deceased. Annie L. Ward acquired title as devisee under will John T. Ward, late, Kennebunk, deceased.

1938 4/4 Bk 916/145, 146, 147 and Bk 924/164 Other Ward heirs to William A. Durnall.

1949 12/5 Bk 1141/406 William W. Durnall to Willard A. Deane.

C. 1949 - House was a guest house called "The Willard.

1952 10/14 Bk 1216/221 Willard P. Deane to Louis and Simon Spill.

1953 9/8 Bk 1248/541 Simon and Louis Spill to Elinor Jones Teczar and Theodore Teczar.

1956 7/21 Bk 1321/164 Elinor Jones Teczar and Theodore Teczar to Earl V. and Phyllis M. Bibber.

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207-985-2752 Bibber Memorial Chapel
67 Summer Street
Kennebunk, ME 04043
207-985-2752 Bibber Memorial Chapel
67 Summer Street
Kennebunk, ME 04043