2015-10-30 / Community

The Tregon House

By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society

This real picture postcard shows the Tregon House on Willard Street. (Courtesy photo) This real picture postcard shows the Tregon House on Willard Street. (Courtesy photo) Preserving local history is an interesting and sometimes challenging business. We are so grateful to resident Alex Taylor for thinking to bring these two pieces into the South Portland Historical Society to preserve. The Willard neighborhood has a fascinating past. We often note its early history as a fishing village; In the 1800s, many residents lived in homes along Preble Street, kept their fishing and lobster boats anchored in Simonton Cove, kept supplies in the fishing shacks on the beach and at the point, and dinghys pulled up on shore were a common sight.

The neighborhood began to change in the 1890s when trolley service was extended into South Portland. The electric railroad built the Willard Casino at the end of Willard Street to stimulate ridership on its lines. Although the casino was short-lived, tourists and summer residents who had started to come here on the trolleys remained. Thus it was that Willard (and Loveitt’s Field) entered a period of its history when it was quite the tourist destination. Visitors, especially from Canada, would stay for a week or two, or even the whole summer. The Willard Haven Inn and the New Willard Inn on Willard Beach offered many rooms, as did a number of other hotels and boarding houses in the area – the Cloyester, the Hastings, the Chase House and the Grand View Cottage.

The boarding houses in those earlier years are especially hard to find now that so many years have passed. The Portland Directories, one of our go-to sources for early information when it is not recorded elsewhere, often don’t indicate when rooms in a large home were being rented out as a boarding house.

With the pieces that Alex Taylor brought in for preservation, we can see that there was yet another boarding house in this neighborhood, the Tregon House at 63 Willard St. The advertisement is from 1926, which pinpoints at least one point in time when boarders were taken in. The Portland Directories indicate only that the Blodgett family lived in the house; in the 1930s, the Directories are more specific and we see that the Blodgetts only lived there in the summer, closing the house up at the end of the season and moving to another house for the winter.

If you have any additional information about the Tregon House or any other hotel or boarding house on South Portland’s east end, I encourage you to reach out to us at the historical society at 767-7299.

A local historical society is as strong as the community that supports it; I hope that you will keep historical preservation in mind in your travels – when looking through your photo albums, rummaging through a junk drawer, or visiting a neighbor’s yard sale. You never know where a lost piece of history might show up.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is director of South Portland Historical Society.

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