Rocky Pastures: First News From a Visitor

Well, by now the Design Show House is well under way at Rocky Pastures.  I am sure the designers are glad the show has begun to show off their creative efforts and skill.  I had a comment on one of my recent posts from a visitor (Tracey) to the show, so I thought I’d share it in a post.  Paula and other designers, read on…Tracey puts in a good word for you!

I visited Kenneth Roberts’ former home in Kennebunkport on Saturday (6/23) and was one of the first people to don protective booties and wander through the rooms of the estate. What an incredible home! And what a wonderful job all of the designers did in inspiring “ooohs” and “wows” to everyone who visited. Every room was tastefully decorated and each designer or person representing the designer was very enthusiastic about explaining what was done and why. If I could I’d have made an offer on the house that day!

Great job!  If anyone has pictures and wouldn’t mind me posting them, let me know and I’ll be glad to show everyone who can’ t make it this great event!

Rocky Pastures: Design Show House Events

The Design Show House, sponsored by the Kennebunkport Historical Society, is only a month and a half away!  The Show House runs from June 23 – July 14 and is open to the public at $20 per ticket.  This is a great opportunity to see the estate of a great historian and author, so if you’re in the area, be sure to visit!

In addition to taking in the beauty of Roberts’ estate and viewing the various design rooms of New England-area designers, KHS is putting on several events related to Kenneth Roberts (note that the locations for these events are not at Rocky Pastures).  Below are the events as listed on the Design Show House website:

  • Monday, June 25 – The Colony Hotel – Lunch and Learn – Featured speaker is Joyce Butler, historian, archivist/curator, and writer. The topic is “Kenneth Roberts: The Man.” Guests will look at the talents and colorful personality of one of America’s most loved writers of historical fiction. Butler will chronicle his life at rocky Pastures and tell anecdotes of his family and friends. This intimate portrait is sure to delight all.  Tickets to the show house are included. $45 per person.
  • Monday, July 2 – The Colony Hotel – Lunch and Learn – Featured speaker is Sandy Oliver, renowned food historian and writer. The topic is “Kenneth Roberts’ chapter on food in his book, Trending into Maine. This chapter unleashed a torrent of reader response that intiated the cookbook, Good Maine Food, authored by his neice and secretary, Marjorie Mosser.  Tickets to the show house are included. $45 per person.
  • Monday, July 9 – The Nonantum Resort – Lunch and Learn – Featured speaker is etiquette specialist Andrea Pastore. The topic is “Navigating a Place Setting.” Andrea will present ettiquette situations and thoughtful, fun and useful solutions. For more information about Andrea, visit http://etiquettesolutionsbyandrea.com/.  Tickets to the show house are included. $45 per person.

I find Joyce Butler’s Lunch and Learn rather intriguing!  If you have a chance to visit any of these events, feel free to let me know how they went and what you took away from these events.

Keep your eyes open for forthcoming posts on Rocky Pastures as we lead up to KHS’s Design Show House.

Rocky Pastures: Before There Was the Walled Garden, Part II – Rocky Pasture’s Predecessor

Perhaps I may be regarded as allergic to noise.  Possibly I am – and then, again, I may merely be one of a multitude who realize that noise is a form of torture created and tolerated by idiots.

-Kenneth Roberts in I Wanted to Write (pg. 189)

***The following is part of a series to promote Rocky Pastures and the Design Show House the Kennebunkport Historical Society is sponsoring at the estate on June 23 – July 14. You can visit the KHS site here. One of the designers, a friend of this blog, can be visited here.*** 

1 Linden Avenue, Kennebunk Beach, ME – Roberts’ predecessor to Rocky Pastures, and the subject of his essay “The Little Home in the Country.” Courtesy Portland Monthly

Kenneth Roberts’ search for solitude culminated with his building of Rocky Pastures in 1938, but as stated in my previous post, his search first led him to what he eventually called Stall Hall.

Stall Hall is the subject of his humorous essay “The Little Home in the Country” in For Authors Only.  In this essay, he comically relays his toils and trials of making his home a fortress against the outside world and the noise it brings.  I contrasts his toils of renovating Stall Hall with the supposed ease of renovating as presented by the “experts” of his day. 

These experts paint a picture of idyllic serenity, where foliage and flowers bloom with ease, and one “by digging occasionally in the damp and fragrant earth, one easily induces unbroken slumber and raises gargantuan vegetables.”   Just as easy is the remodeling of a farmhouse, where:

In most of these whimsical pieces, a young wife leads her husband into the country, shows him a semicollapsed  cottage, and talks him into buying it.  Then the two of them, with an old hammer, a borrowed saw, and a few secondhand nails, proceed to hammer it into perfect condition.

Little did he know, he would be renovating or remodeling some aspect of Stall Hall practically every year he lived there.  He says:

I do…desire to cry a bitter cry against the manner in which occupants of little homes in the country, and prospective occupants of such homes, are led to embark on ventures without being warned of the grief that may await them if they permit themselves, as I once did, to believe implicitly in catalogs and incomplete directions.

In honor, I’m sure, of his toils with Stall Hall, Roberts’ developed a motto for his home, “Nobody Ever Told Me About That.”  As stated in my previous post, the solitude of the area in which Stall Hall resided would soon be disturbed by the “first green, first and second fairways, and second tee” of Webhannet Golf Course (see an article dated in Oct. 2010 on the then-sale of Stall Hall from which this quote came) and his neighbor’s garages.  Upon making the decision of devoting his energies to writing historical fiction, Roberts, along with his friend Booth Tarkington, purchased another stable nearby and converted it into a “New England-Spanish workshop with a courtyard capable (I fondly imagined) of frustrating people determined to drop in for a cozy chat when I was most eager to work” (I Wanted to Write, 169).  He would name this Blue Roof.

I’ve yet to find in any of the resources I have what Roberts’ thought of Rocky Pastures after its construction, but I can only imagine that he had found what he was looking for.  Surrounded by natural beauty, his study walled in by the walled garden-far away from any neighbor or golf course-and separated from the highway by a half mile driveway, Roberts could now write without the distraction of the world.

***Note: Stall Hall was for sale at the publishing of the Oct. 2010 article “Kenneth Roberts and His Beloved Money Pit” in the online version of Portland Monthly. According to verani.com, Stall Hall sold in March of 2011 for $755,000.

View of the outside of the walled garden from potting shed. Courtesy of Paula Robinson Rossouw

The french doors of the study lead out to the walled garden. Immediately to the left upon exiting is the water feature. Photo courtesy of Paula Robinson Rossouw.

The last photo here is of Roberts’ study today.  This room, among others in the house, will be transformed by various designers, including Paula Robinson Rossouw, from June 23 – July 14.  Be sure to visit!

Rocky Pastures: Design Show House Info

On June 23-July 14, the Kennebunkport Historical Society will be hosting a Design Show House at Kenneth Roberts’ estate, Rocky Pastures.  According to the website for the show, this is the first time the estate has been opened to the public.  Various designers will be designing the rooms of Roberts’ house.  The cost per person to view the estate is $20.  The tickets are available through the Society, the Kennebunk /Kennebunkport Chamber of Commerce and the Nonantum Resort. 

If you’re up to an evening gala on the grounds of Rocky Pastures, then join the Society on Friday evening, June 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $75 per person and $60 per person for Society members. For tickets, call the Society at 967-2751 or email kporths@roadrunner.com All gala tickets must be pre-purchased (information from the Designer Show House website).

There wil also be guest speakers during the public viewing (see the Designer Show House website for dates and speakers).

All in all, this is a great opportunity for not only Kenneth Roberts fans, but history buffs as well.  The house, though for sale, is currently privately owned and went through a major renovation in 2006, so the estate is in great condition and looks very much like when Roberts lived there.   Though built in 1938, the house has an old-world feel to it and is located in a beautiful, wooded area near a duck pond.  Visiting Rocky Pastures, then, will be like a step back in time for history buffs and an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Maine for any who appreciate natural beauty.

Take the opportunity to visit the Facebook page for the Design Show House at: https://www.facebook.com/DesignerShowHouse.  And while you’re at it, join the Kenneth Roberts fan page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/76921638924/

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