Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and an estuary in Wells, the 268-acre Laudholm Farm is one of the state’s best preserved and finest examples of a saltwater farm. In continued use since the seventeenth century, the property was originally part of the landholdings of Sir Fernando Gorges (1565–1647). Nathanial Clark Jr. acquired part of the land when the Gorges property was divided toward the end of the seventeenth century. The property stayed in Clark’s family for several generations: Nathanial’s son Adam inherited the land in 1762, Adam’s son Benaiah in 1804, and Benaiah’s son Theodore in 1816.
The most prominent structure on the property is the main house, a two-and-a-half-story building with a two-story ell and attached woodshed. It was built between 1860 and 1870. Both the house and the adjoining woodshed are wood-frame structures with clapboard siding. The house has a granite foundation and a gable roof with three pedimented dormers and two chimneys. The main facade has five bays and gable ends; along this facade are six-over-six, double-hung sash windows. The exterior combines details of the Greek Revival and Colonial Revival styles: pedimented gable ends; a cornice that runs along the ell, pilasters, and window caps; Tuscan columns support the veranda along the north and west entry.
Much of the original woodwork remains inside the house, including the post and beams, windows and baseboard moldings, and the doors. There are four wood mantelpieces styled in the Greek Revival. The bathroom fixtures, third-floor paneling, and dropped ceilings are all from the late nineteenth century. A section of the ell that connects with the house has what appears to be eighteenth-century paneling, suggesting that it was taken from an earlier structure. The roof over the main house was raised to make room for dormers, an ell portico, and a bathroom wing along the western side of the house.
In addition to the main house, the property includes fields, woodlands, and a one-and-a-half-story, frame, clapboard-sided Greek Revival farmhouse (1830–1850) with a side-lighted entrance, gambrel roof, and late-nineteenth-century replacement windows. Additional buildings include a shed (1850s), a sheep barn (1890s), bull barn (1900), killing house (early 1900s), barn (1905), creamery (1920), chick border (1916), hennery (1916), and two automobile garages (1907, 1920).
By 1850 the 1,300-acre farm produced potatoes, corn, hay, barley, and fruit. Ten years later, in 1860, the now 850-acre farm shifted to dairy production. It was Theodore who likely built the Greek Revival farmhouse in the 1830s or 1840s, which makes it the earliest surviving building on the property. An ell was added to that house after 1856. Theodore died in 1880 and the house was bought by George C. Lord, President of the Boston and Maine Railroad. After Lord died in 1893, his son Robert raised Guernsey cows on the farm. His son, Charles, took over after Robert’s death in 1908, and named the farm Laudholm after his estate in Newton, Massachusetts. The State of Maine bought 199 acres of the farm in 1969, and in 1980 the Town of Wells turned the property over to the Laudholm Trust.
Laudholm Farm served as saltwater farmland until 1977, when the last farmer to own the property died. Since the early 1980s the property have been managed as the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve by the Wells Reserve and Laudholm Trust.
Reed, Roger C., “The Laudholm Farm,” York County, Maine. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1986. National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
Bourne, E.E. History of Wells and Kennebunk.Portland, 1900.