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At the Top of the Market

February/March 2017 | view this story as a .pdf

Unleash your fantasies with these properties for sale, and meet the dreamers who built them.

Northerly Paradise

Boldwater webExperience Brooklin at its most cinematic, with Maine your Pitcairn Island.

This time of year, North Brooklin braces for razor cold and icy gusts across Blue Hill Bay. But once in a while we can be surprised by a sweet tropical breeze wafting gently through the pines.
In Technicolor.

Yes, in a happily-ever-after plot twist worthy of Hollywood, one of the exotic Tahitian actresses in MGM’s 1962 smash hit Mutiny on the Bounty wound up spending the last four decades here. Louise Murfey, nee Tefaafana, was hiding in plain sight in Boldwater,” the house she and her husband built in 1980 at the shore’s edge. 

Young Louise Tefaafana fell in love with tall, dashing Spencer L. Murfey Jr. “when he raced to Tahiti on a sailboat in the early 1960s,” says Prin Allen, 86, the contractor who built Boldwater for the Murfeys in 1980.

Louise had just begun dating the millionaire ocean racer and philanthropist when she was asked to join the cast of Mutiny On The Bounty as the love interest for Richard Harris.

Harris was one of the mutineers. I was the girl kissing him on the beach,” she says in her musical voice, her English warmed by tones of Polynesian and French, Tahiti’s official language. “I am also the girl in the sinking boat, crying out.” Onscreen, Harris is all over her, but between takes, “Richard was a gentleman,” she says.

Trevor Howard, who played Captain Bligh, may have been hard on his crew, to say the least. “But with us, he was fun!” When Captain Bligh sacrificed his dignity to please Tahitian royalty during a ceremony, “He danced like a monkey!”

The movie was a triumph for brooding Marlon Brando and significant for his romantic life as well. Just as Spencer Murfey, 34, was swept away by Louise, Brando fell in love with Louise’s castmember Tarita Teriipaia, who played opposite him in the movie. The friendship between the two couples deepened. “He was very nice. Very kind,” Louise says of Brando. “We were good friends.” When Louise and Tarita were chosen as two of three Mutiny actresses asked to come to Hollywood for voiceovers, editing, and polishing, “We saw Brando a lot there, too.” In so many ways, it was a wrap.

Brando and Teriipaia’s marriage hit the rocks in 1972. Louise and Spencer are the lucky ones. Their marriage lasted until Spencer died at 75 in 2003.

The Maine Adventure

“The first time I ever saw Maine was in 1975,” Louise says. “My husband loved sailing in a Hinckley, and we came to Maine for that.” Since he adored racing Hinckley yachts, these waters were the center of the universe.

Once in Brooklin, Spencer, the world traveler, cattle rancher, and board member at Corning Advisors, couldn’t resist stopping in to see his great aunt, who lived in a white Cape Cod barely 75 feet from the reach of the waves. Built around 1900, the place was already nicknamed “Boldwater.”

The luscious environs and stunning views of Long Island with the peaks of Acadia National Park in the distance were magnetic for the Murfeys. When Spencer’s great aunt passed away, they bought Boldwater from her estate.

Almost Shaker-simple, the trim white cape was moved from its oceanfront perch to the entrance of the 38.6-acre tract. From that day forward, it’s been called instead, “The Gatehouse.”

Then, with a Blue Hill architect, Spencer and Louise dreamed up the new Boldwater that stands today as the property for sale.

Tahiti is one kind of paradise. Boldwater is another. Built in 1980, this 14,375-square-foot, six-bedroom luxury retreat has “10 fireplaces, hand-painted murals, paneled library, generous windows, and attached solarium” where Tahiti bloomed under glass year-round. The listing sheet ticks off the “Guest Cottage, Gatehouse, oceanfront pool with pool house, apple orchard, enormous greenhouse, and dock.” There are five full baths, three half baths.

Blue Hill may not be a major metropolitan market, but you have to wonder: Did community theatre directors ever shyly approach Louise and ask her to appear in one of their productions like Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon or The Fantasticks?

“No!” She laughs. “My husband thought ‘the movies’ just meant a bunch of crazy people. He swept me away just as I got started, and that’s that.”

Besides, in Brooklin, the ocean is the show. Did Louise like yachting?

“No. That was all my husband’s thing.”

Instead, she was intrigued by Maine against the sea.

“Do you see where the swimming pool is, with the landscaping” that slopes down to the water? It’s almost grotto-like.

Indoors, “I love the kitchen,” Louise says. When hosting family shindigs, her star is “Lobster. For some parties, friends would come from California.”

“My favorite place is the sauna” in the master bedroom that looks over the water. You can see forever.

Louise and Spencer lived at Boldwater year-round, for roughly “15 years,” Prin Allen says. In 2003, she and Spencer moved to spend winters together in Palm Beach, but he passed away. “I was last in Maine in November,” she says. Lately, she’s been up here largely during the summer.

Did Louise ever visit the Bounty after 1962? Fate brought the ship here, too, as she often visited Maine and was here for repairs just before sailing down the Eastern Seaboard toward her doom. [See our story: “Mutiny on the Bounty,” April 2013.]

“Not in Maine,” Louise says. “But in the year 2000, the Bounty was in Australia, and my husband and I saw her. We were cruising on an ocean liner to spend New Year’s at sea. We started out of Paris [she pronounces it à la française] and went across the world to all kinds of places…Australia, Indonesia, finally to…Tahiti.”

The Lady in the White Cape

Brooklin isn’t just famous for its boating. It’s famous for early 20th-century writers such as E.B. White and Boldwater’s first noted owner/resident, Anne D. Kyle, who spent her winters in Palm Beach and her summers in the little white cape that was moved from its perch overlooking the sea to became known as The Gatehouse. She did exceptional work at Boldwater.

Who was the mysterious Anne D. Kyle? She was a Newbery Honor-winning author.

In 1938, as a member of Brooklin’s summer colony, Miss Anne D. Kyle (Smith College, ’18), she found her voice here.

Just as the September 1938 hurricane swept in, her new novel Red Sky Over Rome (Houghton Mifflin, Boston) hit the bookstores. Set in 1849, with the vivid background of Garibaldi fighting to make Italy a republic, the story revolves around a young American expat girl, Cherry Carstairs. She befriends Grazia, her landlady’s niece, who has “a twin brother who joins up with Garibaldi’s army,” according to Kirkus Reviews. “The three young people are in the midst of revolutionary activities, and the situations in which they find themselves make exciting reading, full of color of the Italian countryside. A thread of mystery runs through the story–the confiscated villa, the lost opera.”

The review goes on to praise Kyle’s “gift of storytelling.”

Another of Kyle’s Italian tales is The Apprentice of Florence, published in 1933 by Houghton Mifflin. The year is 1453. Nemo, just 16, becomes indentured to a silk merchant from Florence. A business trip whisks the characters to Byzantium in an atmosphere rich with murder and intrigue. Behind it all: Will Byzantium (Istanbul today) be taken by the Turks? Spoiler alert: Bet on the Turks.

As for Kyle’s white cape, “It was strictly a summer cottage, built with spacious rooms,” says Prin Allen. “Years ago, there was quite a colony on Long Island,” visible from the cottage’s front windows. “An old steamboat used to go back and forth to the island from a departure point just below her house.”

What a lovely ride.

Boldwater: 38.6 acres, $7.8M.
Taxes are $27,056.

Dark Star

FM17-High

If Buckminster Fuller kicked back here, you can, too.

Fancy a place with a pedigree? Just a 20-minute ferry ride off the Maine coast, noted architect Fred Savage designed “Dark Harbor” on Islesboro in 1896. Situated on 117 Jetty Road, the Colonial Revival showpiece has a grand double staircase and an oval dining room. How many of your friends have a Renaissance knot garden?

“Relations of the Astors of Titanic fame owned this property for a number of years. Their friend Buckminster Fuller often visited and was known to have regaled children with many stories,” say current owners Kerry and Bruce Claflin.

“When the home was run as an inn, many notable people attended. As Charles Kuralt, the TV announcer who had a show about the byways of America, wrote, ‘I’ve often thought if someone were coming to visit America for the first time, I’d send them to…Islesboro Island, where there’s a great Victorian inn called Dark Harbor House, a gracious place with no phones, and fireplaces in all the rooms.’”

There are “196 feet of tidal shorefront on Ames Cove with a kayak launch and gravel beach.” The lot is just over four acres. “In 2011/12, the current owners commissioned a complete restoration/renovation, starting with a new foundation and ending with top period furnishings and landscaping.”

The current owners are staying on the island but downsizing. Imagine yourself enjoying “Gin and tonics on the circular porch overlooking the beautiful cove.”

Dark Harbor: 4 acres, $4.275M.
Taxes are $20,439.

Hidden Agenda

Sea Street webThis is the spot for folks who value privacy.

If you desire something secluded and snazzy, 1 Sea Street in Rockport is a gorgeous part of the world your family can tie up to. From the mahogany library to the “media room, exercise room, wine cellar, dock, and 860 feet of harbor frontage,” this is luxury with an exclamation point.

Towel down from laps in your pool and enjoy stunning views of Rockport Village’s Inner (and Outer) Harbor, as well as Indian Head Light. Behind all of this are vistas of Mt. Battie. For that touch of réalité, watch the yachting traffic working around the scuffed-up, raw-knuckled “red buildings of Rockport Marine.”

Sellers David and Nancy Holmes are relocating to Falmouth. Their feelings when pulling into the driveway here? “Complete privacy, waterfront, amazing design, and craftsmanship.” Built in 1999, this seaside showcase is in no way a raw, open-wallet concept. Instead, the design is a thoughtful evolution of the Maine Cottage, deftly built on the “largest tract of land in the harbor.”

1 Sea Street: 4+ acres. $6.95M.
Taxes are $96,482.98.

Pasadena East

messler houseCamden’s affectionate copy of the Gamble House in California is an attraction all its own.

In Pasadena, California, one of the most mesmerizing National Historic Landmarks is the Gamble House, designed in 1908 for Procter & Gamble tycoon David B. Gamble by architects Henry Mather Greene and Charles Sumner Greene.

…Wouldn’t it be something if they built a house like that in Maine?

On our side of the Continental Divide, the near replica is in Camden, set high on 23 acres of Mt. Battie with soaring views of Penobscot Bay. The land was bought in 2007 by Joseph D. “Dyke” Messler, Jr., the great-grandson of the founding Gambles who built the Pasadena house. By 2012, Messler’s “homage” was complete. Listed for $9.7M, this sentimental journey has been featured by The Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Messler, 67, says he was inspired by his family’s history.”

The Gambles didn’t become famous for being shy. They know their branding. They brought us Crest toothpaste, Bounty paper towels, Head & Shoulders, Pampers, Febreze, Dawn, Tide, and on and on. We always think of Bob Kraft of Gillette as owning the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium and all. Procter & Gamble owns Gillette.

So Dyke Messler is candid when he tells us the feeling he gets when he pulls up to 135 Mountain Arrow Drive.

“The views of Penobscot Bay through the old-growth white pines are staggering–from the Rockland Breakwater [to] Owls Head Light, Matinicus, and the Havens. The early morning and late afternoon light are especially captivating, lighting the trees and the garden in an ethereal way.”

This striking location lured him because “According to local lore, this area was a favorite spot for native Americans.” Who doesn’t love a dazzling view? “The buildings are well anchored to the land–one of the hallmarks of the Greenes.”

There is a sense of genius loci up here. Which doesn’t hurt when you want to decompress. “The oceanside terrace is a great way to relax with a glass of wine. It takes in views of both the mountains and the sea and overlooks colorful gardens and a vanishing-edge swimming pool. A fire pit takes the chill off cool evenings, and a water feature provides a tranquil spot to unwind at the end of the day.”

The Pasadena place dates to 1908, but this ‘homage’ is hard-wired to download the moon. “While the house is contemporary, it also reflects the exquisite craftsmanship of an earlier era. No expense has been spared to capture the flavor of the past while creating a residence that uses the technologies of the present, including solar and geothermal. The residence is fully automated, and all systems can be operated from an iPad or iPhone.”

Looking for privacy? Check. It “abuts 5,000 acres of state park.” Do you crave that feeling when you walk inside and see the buttery paneling? Absolutely. As for why the family is letting this go, “We are selling in order to move to a smaller property.”

Procter & Gamble has its jingles. “Gillette. The Best a Man Can Get.” “Look, Ma, No Cavities!” “Bounty–the Quicker Picker-Upper.” A possible slogan for this mountain Shangri La? “Yours. If you dare and you can.”

Gamble House Replica: 23 acres. $9.7M.
Taxes are $56,987.