Members of the Hastings family sit on the front porch of their family home Aug. 27, the day before signing paperwork finalizing the sale to the town of Sullivan. From left are daughters Kim Leavitt and Jennifer Craig, grandson Donnie and parents Gail and Brian Hastings. Brian said sitting on the porch is one of the things he will miss most. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JOHANNA S. BILLINGS

Sullivan family says goodbye to longtime home

SULLIVAN — Kim Leavitt will miss Sunday and holiday dinners at the house she has always known as home.

The large gray Victorian, which features four bedrooms, a big front porch and an attached garage, is located on Route 1, just past the curve at the Sullivan end of the Hancock-Sullivan Bridge.

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, Kim’s parents, Brian and Gail Hastings, signed paperwork completing the sale of their former home to the town of Sullivan, which will eventually demolish it.

“The first time you go around the corner and it’s not there, that’s going to be hard,” said Kim’s sister, Jennifer Craig.

At their town meeting June 24, Sullivan residents approved spending $105,000 to purchase the 2.6-acre property as a potential location for a new town office and fire station. The town currently has no specific plans to construct new facilities but purchased the land in order to be prepared.

The home will remain standing for at least six months, said Sullivan Town Manager Rob Eaton. Officials from the Maine State Fire Academy will inspect it to see if it can be used for firefighter training. No plans have been made for demolition through other means if the fire academy can’t use it. But, while the building remains standing, the town will secure and maintain the property.

“I think it would be dishonoring [the Hastings family] to let it fall into a state of disrepair,” he said.

The family moved to the house in 1990, when Jennifer was a freshman in high school. At that time, Kim was heading off to college, though she returned to live in the home for several years after graduation.

Before moving in, the Hastings family lived “just up the street,” according to Brian. They knew the former owners, Zelda and Dwight Havey. Brian had been a student in Zelda’s music class when he was in grammar school.

Brian and Gail married in 1970 and Brian met Zelda’s husband, Dwight, three years later. The two families became close friends, spending a lot of time together in the house.

They weren’t the only ones hanging out there, said Gail. Anybody who needed a place to stay was welcome and many local kids took advantage of the standing invitation.

“They always had a place to go and they knew it,” Gail said.

Kim and Jennifer described the Haveys as being “like grandparents.”

“I can remember playing in the garden when I was 2 or 3 years old,” said Jennifer. “I’d sit on the rock and play with snakes while everyone else was gardening.”

When the family had a chance to move in to the Havey house, it seemed like a natural choice.

“We were always there anyway,” Jennifer said.

The family purchased the home two years later.

“It was mom’s dream. It was her dream house,” said Kim.

“It was home,” said Brian. “It was more than just a house.”

About a year ago because of health issues, Brian, 73, and Gail, 70, moved in with Jennifer. When their former home was finally under contract, family members took on the job of cleaning it out.

“All of us still had stuff in there,” said Jennifer.

Deciding what to keep and what to sell or give away was tough. Some items were liquidated through an estate sale. Family members took home many items that had personal meaning such as furnishings, photos and memorabilia, including several school yearbooks from the late 1920s.

“My dining room is full. My porch is full and my back yard is full,” said Jennifer. Both she and her parents have things in storage units to go through.

Kim discovered letters her grandmother, Eleanor Hastings, had written when she was young. She kept those.

Knowing the house would be demolished, a lot of people were interested in buying architectural items such as doors, windows and the stairway banister. But the family was unable to remove anything that might make the house unsuitable for fire training.

Jennifer said family members are glad the property will benefit the town. Still, they all found leaving to be difficult.

Gail said she doesn’t plan to be anywhere nearby when the house finally comes down.

“The last walk through was heart-wrenching,” said Kim. “You have these flashes of memory.”

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

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