In keeping with Rhe’s interest in old houses and unusual architecture, today I am introducing you to the James G. Blaine house.
The Blaine House is the official residence of the Governor of Maine and his or her family, across the street from the Maine State House in Augusta. The house was built in 1833 by James Hall, a retired sea captain. James G. Blaine, at that time Speaker of the Maine House of Representative, purchased it in 1862 as a present for his wife, Harriet Stanwood, daughter of a prominent Augusta family.
Although born in Pennsylvania, James G. Blaine was one of Maine’s most illustrious political leaders. He was Speaker of the House in the U.S. Congress, then a US Senator and, on two later occasions, served as our country’s Secretary of State. In 1884,he lost the presidency by less than 2000 votes, when he failed to carry the state of New York by that small margin.
The house was built in the Federalist style, an American architectural genre that differs from the previously favored Georgian colonial style by having a smoother facade and plain surfaces with isolated in panels, tablets and friezes. Blaine substantially enlarged the building, constructing an addition at the rear that was a near replica of the original structure, and removing interior walls to create a large entertainment space.
Unfortunately the house’s original motif was changed in 1872 to Victorian and Italianate, and again, in 1919, to a semi-Colonial structure under the direction of noted Maine architect, John Calvin Stevens. The grounds of the house were landscaped by the famous Olmstead firm.
During World War I the house was used by Maine’s Committee for Public Safety. It was presented to the State by Blaine’s youngest daughter, Mrs. Harriet Blaine Beale, in memory of James Blaine’s grandson, Walker Blaine Beale, killed in action in World War I, and was established by the 1919 Legislature as the official residence of the Governor of Maine. Blaine House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964 for its association with James G. Blaine.