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McIntire Garrison House
Many believe the McIntire Garrison House, originally known as the Maxwell Garrison, to be the oldest house in Maine. Built circa 1707, the house sits on the bank of the York River, which is rich in historic and archaeological resources. Although unoccupied, the house is part of a complex of historic York buildings. Since the late nineteenth century it has enjoyed iconic stature in the York community and is frequently sketched and painted by artists and antiquarians.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, settlers in the District of Maine scattered their residences in a long, ribbon-like pattern without a real town center, unlike settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which were established in the form of towns (or congregations). These were true frontier settlements where, before 1718, the largest communities like York and Falmouth (now Portland) were barely a cluster of widely separated, one-story wood buildings. For protection against frequent hostile incursions, the leading citizens of these scattered settlements built well-fortified garrison houses.
The McIntire Garrison House is an excellent and rare example of the type. Built by an unknown settler, the house is a two-story log structure with a symmetrical facade and gable roof. The house’s horizontal courses of sawn logs are now sheathed with shingles. Originally, the logs were tightly fitted together horizontally without the infill one usually finds in log cabins; the sawn logs were carefully dovetailed to be weathertight. Such building techniques were introduced by Scottish settlers. A second-story overhang was a feature also brought by British settlers. The clapboard shingle siding, new chimney, and roof date to 1908–1909 when the Garrison House was extensively restored.
The interior of the Garrison House is unchanged from the original condition, with rough, unfinished flooring and open structured ceiling. Despite the extensive restoration, the McIntire Garrison House is considered to be the most significant surviving type of the early-eighteenth-century defensive house.
This National Historic Landmark is privately owned.
Candee, Richard McAlpin. “Wooden Buildings in Early Maine and New Hampshire: A Technological and Cultural History, 1600–1700.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1976.
Churchill, Edwin A. “English Beachheads in Seventeenth-Century Maine.” In Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present, edited by Richard W. Judd, Edwin A. Churchill, and Joel W. Eastman .Orono: University of Maine Press, 1995.
Dillon, James, “McIntire Garrison,” York County, Maine. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1976. National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
Giffen, Sarah and Kevin D. Murphy, eds. “A Noble and Dignified Stream”: The Piscataqua Region in the Colonial Revival, 1860–1930. York, ME: Old York Historical Society, 1992.
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