Rocky Pastures: Is Kenneth Roberts’ Home Finally Sold?

If you have followed this site for a while, you may recall a series of posts I did in 2012 on the Designer Show House held at Kenneth Roberts’ estate in July of 2012. The house had been on the market for a while, and the show was to highlight area designers as well as the famous Maine author’s home.

Despite the home’s beauty and stature, Roberts’ pride and joy had been on the market for quite some time. Yesterday I stumbled across the LandVest blog, where a post dated 7/31/2015 highlights Kenneth Roberts’ and his estate, informing readers that they can “own a piece of history.”

LandVest’s blog post got me to thinking about the status of the sale; in the busyness of my teaching and other research, I’ve honestly forgotten to check up on whether the home has sold or not. After a simple Google search, it appears that after long while, Roberts’ Rocky Pastures may have a new owner.

Dated July 28, 2017, the Portland Press Herald published an article titled “Patrick Dempsey is getting boxing lessons from a Portland firefighter (by Ray Routhier). The article primarily focuses on the fact that Patrick Dempsey has been seen around southern Maine. He’d been working out with a Portland firefighter, who is training him how to box. Routhier suggests that Dempsey’s training is in preparation for an upcoming movie role (if you recall, Dempsey is most well-known for his role in Grey’s Anatomy).

What’s of interest to this site is Routhier’s discussion of speculation that Dempsey had recently bought a home in Kennebunkport. Per Routhier,

Dempsey has been seen in southern Maine a lot more than usual this year, especially around Kennebunkport. Locals have posted pictures of him in town on Facebook announcing him as a new neighbor. Richard West, a real estate agent, posted a picture in June saying that Dempsey had bought a summer home a half-mile from his house and that “he is a welcomed addition to Kennbunkport.”

Though no one would confirm where Dempsey bought his home, but after some digging, Routhier suggests that Dempsey is the new owner of Kenneth Roberts’ Rocky Pastures.

An estate in Kennebunkport known as Rocky Pastures, once owned by noted Maine writer Kenneth Roberts, was sold last December for $3.15 million and many speculate Dempsey is the new owner.

The owner is listed in Kennebunkport records as RPF, LLC, with an address of 9100 Wilshire Boulevard, 1000 West, Beverly Hills, California. Two publicists who have worked with Dempsey are listed at that address, as is Grant, Tani, Barash and Altman, a financial management firm that has been linked to him in published reports.

Though I’ve not been able to see any more recent publications affirming Routhier’s claim, it appears that all signs point to Dempsey being the new tenant of Rocky Pastures. If this is true, I wish Dempsey the best, and hope that he helps to carry on the memory of one of America’s greatest authors.

 

Advertisements

Kenneth Roberts’ Genealogy

Characters bearing the surname of Towne or Nason serve as either the main protagonist or play a central role in most of Kenneth Roberts’ novels.  For instance, Langdon Towne was the central character in Oliver Wiswell and Steven Nason was the central character in Arundel. Roberts use of these surnames exhibit not only his attention to historical detail, but his desire to link his works to his New England ancestors.

Some time ago, a Kenneth Roberts fan mailed me some information he received when he attended a presentation by Jack Bales at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. Among the material sent was a short genealogy of Roberts’ family.

Kenneth Lewis Roberts (1885-1957)

Parents: Frank Lewis Roberts (b. 1840) and Grace Mary Tibbetts (1840)

Grandparents: Jane Amanda Nason (b. 1800) and Ebenezer Armstrong Tibbitts (b. 1800)

Great Grandparents: Daniel Nason (b. 1785) and Lydia Towne (b. 1785)

Great-Great Grandparents: Edward Nason (1756-1847) and Sarah Merrill (b. 1758)

Great-Great-Great Grandparents: Joshua Nason (b. 1725) and Sarah Butler (b. 1728)

Interestingly, Roberts follows his family history from his mother’s side; none of the characters in Roberts’ books are based on ancestors from his father’s side. Various reasons are plausible for such an exclusion. Jack Bales in Kenneth Roberts states that little is known of Roberts’ father (and even of Roberts’ immediate family [Bales, 1]) and that he “was not at all close to his father and never mentioned him in any of his articles or books” (Bales, 2). It’s unknown why Roberts was distant from his father, but one can speculate that his father’s job as a traveling salesman played a significant role (Bales, 2).

Roberts’ relationship with his mother, on the other hand, was one that Roberts spoke of in his I Wanted to Write and in various essays (Bales, 2). The time spent with his mother’s family eventually served as the backdrop for his writings on Maine and his novels.

Though Roberts’ characters surnamed Towne or Nason are fictional, they are based upon real people in Roberts’ past and illustrate his deep appreciation for his family’s history and for his beloved state of Maine.

Rocky Pastures: Kenneth Roberts’ Secluded Hideaway – Sort Of

Rocky Pastures' entrance gates. Courtesy Paula Robinson-Rossouw

Rocky Pastures is nesteled in the woods of Southern Maine, offering privacy and seclusion from the masses for Kenneth Roberts – or so he thought.  According to the editor of The Kenneth Roberts Reader, Nelson Doubleday, the driveway leading to Roberts’ home is half a mile long.  This driveway, however, was not enough to deter vacationers and curious fans, so Roberts installed two directionboards.  According to Doubleday, one sign read “PRIVATE: DEAD END ROAD, NARROW AND DANGEROUS: PLEASE DON’T TRESPASS,” and the other read “NOT A PUBLIC ROAD” (Kenneth Roberts Reader, viii n. 2). 

Unfortunately for Roberts, the long driveway and the ominous directionboards did not work.  Doubleday tells us that “Ken says cynically that summer vacationists persistently ignore both signs” (Kenneth Roberts Reader, viii n. 2).   While it may seem ironic that Rocky Pastures will soon be visited by many people, Paula Robinson-Rossouw says that:

Given his very dry sense of humor, I’m sure Kenneth Roberts would have appreciated the irony of his sanctuary being opened to the public for the first time! What he disliked most about idle sightseers was the fact that they disturbed his intensive writing schedule, but he did open the grounds of Rocky Pastures once to demonstrate Henry Gross’s water dowsing skills. I’m sure Kenneth Roberts would be happy to know that his beautiful estate is helping to raise funds for the Kennebunkport Historical Society. After all, history was his great passion – along with dowsing.

Personally, I was not aware that Roberts had opened up his home to visitors at one time, but knowing how much he believed in Henry Gross’ ability, this makes sense.  What also makes sense is Roberts’ intense writing and research schedule, which explains his desire for seclusion from idle sightseers.  I wonder, though,  if the directionboards are still standing alongside the driveway to Rocky Pastures…

Kenneth Roberts’ Estate: Rocky Pastures AND a Cottage!

Interested in knowing more about Kenneth Roberts?  While there is little on the internet on him (hopefully this website remedies that to some extent), people in Maine still seek to keep Roberts’ legacy alive.  According to A Guide to Maine Museums, some (or all?) of Roberts’ estate is kept at a Kennebunk, Maine museum called the Brick Store Museum.  Oh, to be able to visit Maine for more than two days (as I did in August 2009)!  If you have a chance to visit beautiful Maine, stop by Kennebunk to visit the Brick Store Museum.

Courtesy Kennebunk Beach Realty

Speaking of Roberts’ estate, I got to wondering if his house in Kennebunk had sold.  So, I Googled his info and stumbled across a real estate site that listed “Kenneth Roberts Cottage House at Kennebunk Beach.”  It’s only listed for $840,000!  You can view some pics of this cottage here.  So, not only did Roberts live at 39 Rocky Pastures Rd in Kennebunkport, ME, he had himself a nice little cottage as well.

Speaking of Roberts’ Rocky Pastures estate, it’s still for sale for a mere $2.7 million.

The Kenneth Roberts Estate: the Official Website

It’s been a bit slow lately in scrounging up news on the web regarding Kenneth Roberts.  Today, however, I came across the official website for the sale of the Kenneth Roberts Estate.  It gives a great glimpse into what the estate looks like now and it leaves you wanting more.  One really gains an appreciation of Kenneth Roberts the man – for his apparent love of nature and solitude.  Take a gander and enjoy!

Anna M. Roberts in the Blogosphere: “A Kennebunkport Haunting”

Sharon Cummins from Old News from Southern Maine has provided us with more interesting tidbits about the life of Kenneth Roberts.  In the article “A Kennebunkport Haunting” (dated March 22, 2009), Ms. Cummins details an account of the appearances of ghosts at the Gideon Merrill house.  One eyewitness of these ghosts is Anna M. Roberts, Kenneth Roberts’ wife.  Here is what Ms. Cummins reports in her article:

Robert Currier, a gifted publicity instigator, recalled in a later interview that Mrs. Kenneth Roberts had been the first to bring the ghosts to his attention. She had seen the costumed apparitions in an attic window when nobody was home. Amused, he invited a psychic to the house who saw the same spirits the author’s wife had described.

Take a look at this article; definitely an interesting read for a small piece of Americana.

Kenneth Roberts’ House For Sale

Picture courtesy of Pack Maynard & Assoc. Realty

Picture courtesy of Pack Maynard & Assoc. Real Estate

I came across an interesting find during my search for info on Kenneth Roberts – the house he built is now up for sale in Kennebunkport, ME for around only $7.95 million (I say this facetiously because I do not have this kind of money).   It’s a beautiful home and you can view a slide show of the home by clicking here.  I found the realty posting on Pack Maynard & Associates Realty’s website.  It’s a beautiful home set in beautiful country; you really get a sense of Roberts’ appreciation for Maine country. 

You can also get the sense that he wanted privacy.  In the introduction to The Kenneth Roberts Reader, the editor states in a footnote (n. 2, viii) that Kenneth Roberts had a 1/2 mile long drive way.  As one traveled this driveway, he was encountered with one sign that stated “DEAD END ROAD, NARROW AND DANGEROUS: PLEASE DON’T TRESPASS” (Doubleday in The Kenneth Roberts Reader, n. 2, viii) and another that stated “NOT A PUBLIC ROAD” (ibid, viii).

I hope to one day visit Maine and have the chance to see this home.

%d bloggers like this: