2016-07-29 / Community

A Window on the Past

The history of western South Portland, continued
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


Top left, Judith Dyke and Bob Dyke with horse “Midnight” at the farm house on Westbrook Street in 1950.Top right, John and Bob Dyke in the hay field in 1944. Above, Charles Dyke on his farm in the 1930s. Top left, Judith Dyke and Bob Dyke with horse “Midnight” at the farm house on Westbrook Street in 1950.Top right, John and Bob Dyke in the hay field in 1944. Above, Charles Dyke on his farm in the 1930s. I had an interesting conversation with one of our historical society members this week, Maxine Morris. Maxine is a much-beloved, retired elementary school teacher who has lived a lifetime here in South Portland. She has helped us to preserve history over the years, donating photos related to her days as a teacher at Redbank School, as well as a series of photos showing construction of houses in Country Gardens. During our conversation, we were noting a few recent negative comments that have appeared in the local newspaper, made by residents when referring to western areas of South Portland, and how some residents are unaware of the excellent neighborhoods on our west end. Our west end neighborhoods are ideally situated near shopping areas, close to the Maine Turnpike and Iterstate 295, very close to major employers, and have many quiet, pleasant streets that are home to many people and families of all ages.

With that conversation in mind, and with my own desire to continue to preserve the history of the western neighborhoods of South Portland, I will again share some interesting photos related to Thornton Heights of years gone by. The accompanying photographs come from our Dyke Family Collection and show various Dyke family members in and around their farm on Westbrook Street in Thornton Heights. Charles Dyke had been a market gardener in Portland, on leased property in the Riverton area, growing vegetables for commercial sale. In the early 1900s, because the land at Riverton wasn’t big enough, he bought the land on Westbrook Street, bought the existing barn on the property at Riverton, then took the barn apart, piece by piece, and brought it by horse and wagon to South Portland where he erected it on his new property. Charles’s son, Ernest “Ted” Dyke, worked alongside him, but in the early 1920s, Ted bought the cows, equipment and customers from Crosby Dairy (out in the area near the Maine Mall and the Maine Turnpike), and took over the farm, making it more focused as a dairy farm. Ted ran that dairy farm with help from his children, through the Depression era and beyond. At one point, he had 20 to 25 cows. He finally sold the farm in 1956 and the area was developed by Clinton MacLeod into the Country Gardens neighborhood.

South Portland Historical Society is seeking photographs, documents, artifacts or anything else to help preserve the history of South Portland’s west end neighborhoods: Redbank, Long Creek, Meadowbrook, Thornton Heights, Sunset Park and Country Gardens. If you have anything that might help us, please contact the historical society at 767-7299 or sphistory04106@gmail.com.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.



Above, Bob Dyke riding the work horse “Tiger” in 1950. Right, John and Dianne Dyke with steers “Jim” and “Jack” in 1948. Above, Bob Dyke riding the work horse “Tiger” in 1950. Right, John and Dianne Dyke with steers “Jim” and “Jack” in 1948.

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