Historic home to be designer showcase


Kim Swan, owner of the Swan Agency, checks out interior demolition of the future designer show house.

BAR HARBOR — A Wayman Lane home that has been witness to more than 100 years of the town’s history is being renovated as a designer show house to raise money for the Jackson Laboratory.

Kim Swan of the Swan Agency/Sotheby’s Real Estate came up with the idea after her father Cary, who lives next door, purchased the property earlier this year.

Prior to that purchase the home had been owned by Dr. Llewellyn Cooper. It was built by John Stewart Kennedy, the owner of the nearby Kenarden estate, in 1898. During the 1920s it was owned by Clarence Cook (C.C.) Little, who founded the Jackson Laboratory.

Known by historians as “Brightholme,” the house it has been added onto over the years, the core of the main house includes half a dozen fireplaces and original exterior granite walls nearly two-feet thick.

Swan estimates that the interior of the stately house was last updated in the early 1970s.

“This place is a designer’s dream,” Swan said on Monday.

Borrowing from a process that is more common in southern Maine, Swan, who is partnering up with Maine Home and Design magazine, is inviting interior designers to sign up to tackle redecorating one of the rooms, showcasing their skills and tastes in the process. In all she would like to line up 8 to 10 designers. She has already been in touch with Edi Hall of Island Interiors and Tyra Hanson of Frenchman’s Bay Planning and Design of Somesville. While interest from outside of Maine is welcome, Swan would like to have all the designers involved hail from the state or have strong ties here.

Some of the impetus comes from watching clients who buy larger estates along the Maine coast later importing designers to redo the places once the sale is complete, Swan explained.

“I want people to see that there are lots of interesting designers right here in Maine.”

Spaces up for grabs include living rooms, a dining room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and a media room, among others.

Plans call for the house to be completely remodeled and ready for tours by late June. As is the standard practice, those taking the tours pay a fee with the money going to charity. In the case of Brightholme, the money will be going to the Jackson Laboratory. “We’ve partnered with them. They will have a display here about C.C. Little and the lab,” she added.

The house will be open for tours for three to four weeks. It will also be available for sale.

Currently, Cary Swan and a crew from Bryan Shaw Builders are doing the demolition work inside the house. They have uncovered old stairways and even a pair of fireplaces that had been hidden by earlier renovations.

Standing in one of the gutted rooms on Monday, Kim Swan said the convergence of history, design and a focus on charity made the project extraordinarily appealing. She’s happy to conduct walk-throughs for any interested designer. “I’m having so much fun,” she said. “I just can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

Anyone interested in participating in the project can contact Swan at [email protected]

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