SULLIVAN — When Tige and Cindy Sheehan were looking for a summer home in Maine, they discovered something better — their childhood vacation spot, Flanders Bay Cabins, was for sale.
Tige reached out to his four brothers. One of them, Toby Sheehan, still remembers getting that text: “The place where we vacationed as kids is up for sale. Anybody interested in going in on it?”
“I think Toby’s response was immediate: ‘We’re in.’” said Cindy.
Tige and Cindy, along with Toby and his wife, Kelly, now own the spot where members of their family have been vacationing since 1959.
Tige said he had been told his mother, Karen Sheehan, cried when arriving at Flanders Bay the first time.
“She cried because it was out in the middle of nowhere,” said Tige, adding his mother was from Philadelphia and used to vacationing on the beach. “I guess in 1959, this was really desolate.”
“I still feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere now,” quipped Kelly. “I’m a city girl but I love it here.”
She and Cindy said they began visiting Flanders Bay in about the 1980s and have since come many times with their children.
“My very first time here was when I started dating Toby,” Kelly said.
Toby and Tige said what they remember most from their childhood vacations was fishing for mackerel in Prospect Harbor, where Stinson’s Seafood had been located.
“They would dish the sardine waste out there and we’d catch 100 mackerel,” Tige said.
Toby said he had been trying to convince his wife to move to Maine and purchasing the property has provided incentive. But, she said, she is not ready to move here full time because they have children in college and want to be able to help Toby and Tige’s aging parents, who still live in Maryland. For now, the couple will live in Maine from April to October and visit about once a month during the winter, as they did last year after buying the property. Tige is there only on weekends, regardless of the time of year. He works in Nebraska and flies to Maine or to Maryland on weekends.
Flanders Bay guest accommodations include three one-bedroom cabins, three two-bedroom cabins, a chalet that sleeps seven and a shorefront house that sleeps 10. All feature views of the waterfront.
As kids, Toby and Tige stayed in a cabin that is no longer part of the property, but they do have connections to the other buildings. When family members gathered for a reunion in 2016, they stayed in the chalet, they said.
“When we came up to look at the property, we stayed in the shorefront house,” Toby said.
A brick factory, the Hanna Brickyard, had been located on the property before it was converted into vacation rentals in the 1930s, the Sheehans said. There used to be seven additional cabins, which the Sheehans believe originally served as housing for brickyard workers. The remaining cabins are numbered eight through 13.
“We didn’t really [make] any changes because we wanted to keep it rustic,” Kelly said.
“Cabins one to seven aren’t here but we haven’t changed the numbers,” said Cindy, explaining many returning guests request certain cabins based on their existing numbers.
The Sheehans said in general they have made only minor changes, mostly related to maintenance and upkeep, because they want Flanders Bay Cabins to remain rustic.
The most visible change has been Flanders Bay BBQ, located in the main building on Route 1. Kelly and Toby run it, serving barbecued brisket, pork and chicken and side dishes on weekends. They’re not sure if they will continue to run the eatery permanently, however.
The Sheehans have made some changes in honor of their family. Toby and Tige’s dad used to call the main road leading to the cabins from Route 1 “Tobacco Road.” A tree along the road now bears a sign with that name.
They’ve also named two trails which lead from lodging to the water. One is called Thygeson, which is Toby’s and Tige’s mother’s maiden name. The other is “Tom’s Trail” after their father.
“He’s just been very supportive of our little adventure,” Kelly said.