House Island - A Historically Significant Island That Has Transformed To a Premier Vacation and Event Venue
By: Historic House Island
House Island's beginnings were humble. The island served as a hub for fisherman and by 1661 with a single house standing on the island, those fishermen would commonly refer to it as "House Island". During the 18th century, the island changed hands several times for prices as low as $100. In 1808, John Walden sold the southern half of House Island to the United States government. From 1808-1809 the government constructed Fort Scammel. It was named for General Alexander Scammel, an officer of the American Revolution. Fort Scammel along with other forts in Casco Bay were positioned to protect the city of Portland during the War of 1812. In 1862, Just before the Civil War, Fort Scammel was rebuilt and used for training during the Civil War.
From 1907 to 1937, House Island was used as an immigration and quarantine station. It was widely considered the 'Ellis Island of the North'. The quarantine station was busiest in the early 1920s after the adoption of the Emergency Quota Act, which restricted the number of immigrants who could enter the country. World War II brought back the importance and prominence of this 24-acre island as again this strategic point in Casco Bay proved an essential element to the safety of the entire Atlantic Fleet. Large iron rods were embedded in the island are still visible today. These iron rods were the tie in points for groups of submarine nets that kept the German submarines out of the north Atlantic Fleet birthing areas.
After the war, The Cushing family purchased the island from the US government saving the Fort and homes from demolition. The Cushings stewarded the island for nearly 60 years. During that time, they provided many tourists with a traditional Maine lobster bakes on this unique spot in the Bay.
The Island was listed for sale in 2012 without protective conservation or preservation easements for the island or buildings. In 2013, top quality developer Michael Scarks purchase the island and subsequently sold the north half to Vincent "Cap" Mona who immediately started a complete renovation and much needed upgrading of all facilities and services.
The 1920 brick detention barracks have since been demolished, but the original 1907 buildings remain, including the doctor's house, the detention barracks, and the quarantine hospital, but they have gone through massive renovations. Once Cap Mona took ownership of the island, the renovations happened very quickly. The homes were all renovated; the grounds were landscaped. There were no public utilities on the island so a water system was installed along with a solar power system with backup generators. While keeping to the original designs and historic look of the homes, every bedroom and bathroom was fully remodeled. Now the homes, while still historic, have every modern comfort. "The owners put great care into maintaining the classic charm and history of the buildings, while also paying close attention to modernizing amenities to make sure our guests would continue to enjoy the charm and feel of an authentic Maine stay while still having access to all modern amenities and comforts," Historic House Island General Manager Mary Chancy said of the renovation project. The improvements haven't stopped either. In 2018, Mr. Mona began the project of having city water and power brought to the island.
Now, Historic House Island (https://www.historichouseisland.com/
For more information go to https://www.historichouseisland.com/
Historic House Island:
Historic House Island is on House Island in Casco Bay and is a short 6-minute boat ride from downtown Portland, Maine. House Island has a history that dates back to its first establishments in the early 1600's with the first house being built on it by 1623-24. The island's history was built on industry and war, not the pleasurable destination it is known for today. The island was a hub for fishermen. It was once owned by the United States and from 1808-1809 they commissioned the construction of Fort Scammel which was used in the War of 1812 and during the Civil War. From 1907 to 1937, House Island was used as an immigration and quarantine station. It was widely considered the "Ellis Island of the North". Remodeled in 2015, Historic House Island has 3 homes for rent, plentiful outside sites for events and ceremonies and is a heavenly retreat now known for its unique history, rugged natural landscape, and maritime beauty.