10 Things We Love About Our Headquarters At 165 State Street. Well, two things, with more to come!
Did you know that the ancestors of Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets, with Jack Nicholson) lived our landmark headquarters at 165 State Street? A whirlwind (she also starred in Hurricane) episode of Who Do You Think You Are on the History Channel brought her to Portland, where she visited the library at Maine Historical Society as well as the building where her shipowner ancestor George S. Hunt, who earned a fortune in the West Indies trade, and Prohibitionist used to live. If you’d like to tour the first floor of this historic space, built in 1825 and formerly the headquarters of Greater Portland Landmarks, call us at 207-775-4339.
165 State Street, built in 1825, has had some work done. Late in the 19th century, when French-inspired mansard roofs were in vogue, she shifted into such a roof, ditching her classic Federal styling. Ooh, la la! Shocked, straight-laced architect John Calvin Stevens restored the building to its original look in the 1920s. He also restored the interior.
Our Brush With Fame
From the Editor, May 2012
This came to light when Hunt appeared in the television showWho Do You Think You Are? and traced her roots here. There’s a dramatic pause as she opens a moldy journal in Maine Historical Society and the camera traces her finger to her forebears’ address.
Augusta Merrill Hunt (1842-1932) was a pioneering Prohibitionist and a courageous women’s rights advocate. George S. Hunt (1829-1896), her husband, owned a fleet of ships in the West Indies trade, many of them in the sugar trade with Cuba. I’m not saying their relationship was like Helen’s and Paul Reiser’s in the sitcom Mad About You, but consider: He’s making a killing bringing the crucial ingredient for rum into town (I’ve once heard novelist William H. White call sugar cane “rum on the hoof”), while she’s busy abolishing it. Far be it from me to suggest the Hunts’ passionate pursuits went to different ends.
George S. Hunt even had a beautiful barque named for him, a rakish craft which slipped unknown past the TV coverage but appears here. The show didn’t discover or mention any of his ships’ names, either, which are music to the ear: Minerva, Henry P. Lord, Meriwa, S.W. Holbrok, Winslow, Charlena, Frank E. Allen, Ortolan, Sarah B. Crosby, Stella, Ada Gray, Arthur Kinsman, Blanche How, Eliza White, N.M. Haven,Rachel, Frank E. Allen, Minnie Traub, Pilot Fish, J. Polledo, and Manzanilla.
Now that’s good Helen hunting.