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The Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

The Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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The Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine gained international attention after President George Herbert Walker Bush was elected in 1989 and it became the site of the Summer White House. The Bush compound is on Walker’s Point, an outcropping of land that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Its entrance is guarded by the Secret Service but anyone can catch a glimpse from Ocean Avenue.

Walker's Point, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Walker’s Point, Kennebunkport, Maine

 

Nonantum Resort

Assuming you are not on the Bush family guest list, then the family-owned Nonantum Resort is a top choice for a stay in Kennebunkport.

This casually elegant property is a place to relax in a rocking chair on the Carriage House’s front porch or to sit out back in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the river view.

Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

The Carriage House dates to 1883 when it was built for a sea captain. The adjacent and modern Portside Lodge has a more contemporary nautical theme. 

This traditional New England property is in a quiet area a little over a half-mile away from bustling Dock Square’s boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafés. Complimentary coffee and tea is available in either lobby all day long. Pets, other than service animals, are not allowed.

shop signs, Kennebunkport, Maine
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shop signs, Kennebunkport, Maine

The scenic Walker’s Point overlook is about a half hour walk in the other direction. Colony Beach is a nice stop along the way. There are also rental bicycles and kayaks.

Prefer to ride? The Nonantum offers a free shuttle service to guests for travel within a 5 mile radius of the resort.

Sailboat rides and a lobster boat tour depart from the resort’s marina. The kitchen staff will cook what you catch on the fishing boat ride.

Adirondack chairs, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Adirondack chairs, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

The two restaurants, The Pub and the award-winning Ocean 95, were recently renovated and serve food fresh from the farm, the sea and their organic garden. The three course dinner special offered Sunday through Thursday at 95 Ocean is one of the best deals in town.

Pork short rib, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Pork short rib with sweet potato mousse, root beer glaze, morels, house serrano jam

Duck egg gnocchi, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Duck egg gnocchi with lobster, roasted garlic tomato fondue, asparagus, tomato relish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea scallops, parsnip duo. pork belly, pea tendril slaw, clam soubise, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport
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Sea scallops, parsnip duo. pork belly, pea tendril slaw, clam soubise

Strawberry Rhubard Choux au Croqueline, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Strawberry Rhubard Choux au Croqueline, mascarpone mousse, lemon shortbread, pickled rhubarb, basil fluid gel, meringue sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Intown Trolley tour stops here to pick up passengers. Discounted tickets are available at the front desk. 

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trolley at the Nonantum Resort parking lot, Kennebunkport, Maine

The Nonantum Resort is a popular choice for family vacations, romantic getaways, and special events and celebrations. The trolley driver, Ed, said that President George H. W. Bush was known to stop to kiss the bride and give the groom his Presidential cap if he spotted a wedding at the resort while passing by in his boat.

wedding, Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine
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a wedding in progress at the Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

Nonantum Resort’s season begins in mid-April and continues to Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude in mid-December. HGTV  calls Kennebunkport the “#2 Christmas Town in America.” for this all-volunteer holiday celebration held the first two weeks of December. 

Santa arrives by lobster boat and Nonantum Resort holds a Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Nonantum’s General Manager, Tina Gordon, leads the tree lighting on Dock Square. There are carolers, tours of historic homes, trolley and boat  rides, and craft and gift markets. The fire station runs a blueberry pancake breakfast  and a fish chowder supper. A Lobster Trap Tree Lighting is held at nearby Cape Porpoise, and there is Candlelight Caroling at the Franciscan Monastery.  

The Bush compound

 It is easy to spot the best place to view the property. Just look for the cars parked by tourists taking photos from the rocky shoreline along Ocean Avenue.

If the Texas flag is flying alongside the United States and Maine flags at the Bush compound a family member is there.

flags, Walker's Point, Kennebunkport, Maine
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flags, Walker’s Point, Kennebunkport, Maine

The Bush family has welcomed many people to Walker’s Point, from local residents working on a community project to Prime Ministers, royalty, and other Presidents. Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Putin, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev have all been guests.

Walker’s Point

the Bush compound, Kennebunkport, Mainethe Bush compound, Kennebunkport, Maine
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The Bush compound, Kennebunkport, Maine

Our 41st President’s great-grandfather, David Davis Walker, and Walker’s son, Bush’s grandfather, George Herbert Walker, purchased the property. They both built mansions in 1902, but only George Herbert Walker’s mansion, now the main house, remains.

President George H. W. Bush's summer home at the Bush compound, Kennebunkport, Maine
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President George H. W. Bush’s summer home at the Bush compound, Kennebunkport, Maine

George Herbert Walker built a bungalow there in 1921 as a wedding gift for daughter Dorothy Walker and Prescott Bush, President George Herbert Walker Bush’s parents. George Herbert “Herbie” Walker, Jr. purchased his father’s estate in 1953. George H. W. Bush bought the property from his Uncle Herbie’s estate in 1977.

Our 43rd President, George Walker Bush, visits frequently with his family. However, his ranch near Crawford, Texas served as his Summer White House as well as the Western White House.

An historical tour

White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine
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White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine

Learn about Kennebunkport’s and the Bush family’s history during the 30 minute guided tour at the First Families Kennebunkport Museum. It is in the center of town at White Columns, a Greek Revival house built in 1853 that was the home of the Perkins-Nott Family for 130 years. 

In the 19th century more wooden sailing ships were built in Maine than in any other state. Dock Square was a busy shipyard with deep water access to the ocean at high tide.

Shipbuilding along the Kennebunk River, Kennebunkport, Maine
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waterfront plaque about shipbuilding along the Kennebunk River, Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport became one of the wealthiest towns in New England. Eliphalet Perkins, one of the most prosperous sea merchants, built this house with a direct view of Dock Square and his ships being loaded and unloaded. 

Dock Square, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Dock Square, Kennebunkport, Maine

He sold the house to his eldest son, Charles, who married the minister’s daughter, Celia Nott. 

The Nott House, as it became known, was passed down through Celia’s family. Aside from the addition of electricity, indoor plumbing and central heat, it remains much as it was then, right down to the hand-painted wallpaper’s green details, still bright thanks to the Victorian-era use of arsenic.

original Victorian-era wallpaper in the foyer of White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine
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original Victorian-era wallpaper in the foyer of White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine

The railroad came to the area in the 1870s, and with this came well-to-do summer vacationers. The tour guide mentioned that in the 1880s Nott family members invested with partners in 700 acres along the coast.

They sold homesites, including Walker’s Point. Summer mansions were built and Kennebunkport continues to be one of Maine’s most affluent communities.

Ocean Avenue mansion. Kennebunkport. Maine
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Ocean Avenue “summer cottage”. Kennebunkport. Maine

Some of the finest summer homes are in the Cape Arundel Summer Colony Historic District, which runs along Ocean Avenue from Dock Square to Walker’s Point. This area of late 19th and 20th century shingle-style waterfront “summer cottages” is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Elizabeth Nott, a librarian and Historical Society member, gave the Nott house and its contents to the Kennebunkport Historical Society in 1983 .

White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine
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White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine

The First Families Museum is in a room at the end of the house tour. It is filled with family photos, campaign memorabilia and more donated by the Bush family.

The First Families Kennebunkport Museum, at White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine
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The First Families Kennebunkport Museum, at White Columns, Kennebunkport, Maine

Presidential pursuits

George and Barbara Bush attended services at St. Ann’s Episcopal. This stone church with sweeping ocean views was built in 1887 near Walker’s Point. President George H. W. Bush landed on the lawn for his 85th and 90th birthday tandem skydiving adventures. 

St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport, Maine
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St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport, Maine

Dining in Kennebunkport

Want to dine like a President? Try classic New England fare at the unpretentious Mabel’s Lobster Claw on Ocean Avenue. It is in its 66th season and has been featured in numerous television shows, magazines and books, including “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” 

Bush family photos line the knotty pine wall by the corner table where the former President enjoyed seafood specialties like The Duchess, a dish with lobster, scallops and shrimp, along with blueberry pie. Mabel’s is a short walk from the Nonantum Resort.

Bush booth, Mabel's Lobster Claw, Kennebunkport, Maine
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Bush booth, Mabel’s Lobster Claw, Kennebunkport, Maine

The Intown Trolley driver, Ed, also mentioned that Bush favors Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, and The White Barn, a Forbes 5-star AAA 5 Diamond restaurant in two restored barns from the 1820s. 

White Barn, Kennebunkport, Mane
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White Barn, Kennebunkport, Mane

The President is also known for his spontaneous dinner invitations. He sometimes orders from the popular Clam Shack, known for its fried seafood and lobster rolls. President Bush would pull up with his speed boat and have the order lowered down to him.

Enjoy golf? President Bush golfed at the Cape Arundel Golf Course. The George H. W. Bush Cape Arundel Celebrity Golf Classic is an annual charity event.

Barbara Bush remembered

Ganny's Garden, Kennebunkport, Maine_edited-1
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Ganny’s Garden, Kennebunkport, Maine

Rocks in the stone wall of Ganny’s Garden on Ocean Avenue are carved with the initials of each of “the grand’s,” as Barbara Bush called them, and there is a tree for each of them. Many of the flowers are from her garden at Walker’s Point.

initials in wall, Ganny's Garden, Kennebunkport, Maine
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initials of “the grands” in the stone wall, Ganny’s Garden, Kennebunkport, Maine

The garden was inspired by the needlepoint carpet Mrs. Bush made with the initials of each of her seventeen grandchildren, who called her Ganny, hidden in a bed of flowers.

The garden was dedicated in her honor in 2011.

plaque in honor of Barbara Bush, Kennebunkport, Maine
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plaque in honor of Barbara Bush, Kennebunkport, Maine

Barbara Bush used to walk her dogs along the hard packed sand of Gooch’s (Kennebunk) Beach, Secret Service agents behind her. She was featured in the book “Gooch’s Pooches.”

beach, Kennebunkport, Maine
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beach, Kennebunkport, Maine

Mrs. Bush often stopped for coffee at H. B.Provisions, which is in a building dating to the Civil War. When its owners, Helen Thorgalsen and Bonnie Clement, were married, President and Mrs. Bush were witnesses on their marriage license.

H. B. Provisions, Kennebunkport, Maine
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H. B. Provisions, Kennebunkport, Maine

Just Presidential

You don’t have to be a President to enjoy the sea breezes along the rocky coast or to savor the freshest of seafood. But in Kennebunkport you can stand where history was made and feel the presence of a Presidential family that residents call friends and neighbors. 

books in shop window, Kennebunkport, Maine
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books in shop window, Kennebunkport, Maine

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