Ram’s Head Farm is a stunning historic Maine gem — and you can stay there!

George

At Ram’s Head Farm, guests are living in history. My morning coffee was taken in a Senator Bill Cohen blue cup, not long after emerging from the President Richard Nixon bathroom. I am awed by this opportunity to stay in Marion Fuller Brown’s home, the woman who was a Republican icon and hero to me when I was a young Republican.

Marion served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1966 to 1972, and was the prime sponsor of legislation resulting in banned billboards in our state, Maine’s returnable bottle law (one of the first in the nation) and of Maine’s Clean Water and Clean Air Act. Over 40 years ago, she was a powerhouse of conservation and politics.

Marion served on the National Republican Committee and was a delegate to three national Republican conventions. President Nixon appointed her to the National Highway Beautification Commission. She was a charter member of the first Land for Maine’s Future Board. Do a Google search for Marion Fuller Brown, and be prepared to read about these and many other achievements. She was an amazing and inspiring woman.

Marion put her wealth and property where her heart was — in land conservation — placing conservation easements on her farmland in the 1990s and in 2000 with her children and grandchildren, conserving her unspoiled half-mile of York River shoreline with another 54 acres of fields through the York Land Trust.

And now, Linda and I were staying in Marion Fuller Brown’s huge historic home at Ram’s Head Farm, amidst all that conservation land only a few miles from some of Maine’s most beautiful beaches and coastal communities. This happened by chance, really, after I found out that Genevieve Morgan, the senior editor at Islandport Press, is Marion’s granddaughter.

One day we were talking about Marion and Genevieve told me that the family rents Ram’s Head Farm by the week, and asked if we’d like to stay there and write a column about it. Absolutely! So here we are and I am entranced.

The house is loaded with art and historic artifacts. It includes seven bedrooms, three baths, two large living rooms with fireplaces, a sun-lit room for kids, three dining areas — not counting the outside deck or screened in porch — and a huge kitchen. The formal dining room is stunning, but we’re Mainers, so we ate our meals in the kitchen. Don’t worry. It includes a huge dining area and table.

Joining us here for the first 24 hours were daughter Rebekah, grandsons Addison and Vishal, and son Joshua with daughter-in-law Kelly and our new four-month-old granddaughter, Ada. It may sound like a lot of people, but we were rattling around in this huge house.

In the bedroom Lin and I chose, there is an ancient roll-top desk. I opened it to discover more memorabilia, plus some fishing gear (Marion’s first husband died and her second husband Brooks Brown was an avid sportsman), a “1936” button and an ancient “Book of Common Prayer” with a heavy metal cover.

Every room contains wonderful books. In an upstairs bedroom, while we were on our initial tour, Josh picked a book off the fireplace shelf and handed it to me. It was titled “Stop Annoying Your Children.” Was he trying to tell me something?

I spent time in every room, checking out the books, the memorabilia, feeling close to this wonderful accomplished Republican woman and leader. She’s here. She’s definitely here.

There is a great outside deck in the back, partially shaded by the only mature chestnut tree I’ve seen in many years, overlooking gorgeous flower gardens and a barn and outbuildings, but we spent a lot of time on the screened porch off the kitchen, overlooking extensive lawns, a small pond, the carriage house and a beautiful old wooden fence. That’s where I wrote this column.

Linda

This was one of the more unusual and enjoyable outings we’ve experienced in the three and a half years of writing this column. At Ram’s Head Farm, we capitalized on the very southern Maine location, mid-way between our house and Rebekah’s house, and the Bridgewater, Mass., home of Josh, Kelly and Ada, to turn this into a family gathering. We also knew we could all fit comfortably.

Actually, this 15-room house could have accommodated lots more family members. What a great place for a large family and friends to gather! It would also work well for a small conference. It is rented by the week, year-round. This would be an awesome place to celebrate Christmas, or anything, really. Just being here is a celebration.

Ram’s Head Farm was a dairy farm prior to World War II, when Marion and Henry Fuller purchased it and moved the house across the road to its present location. They raised four kids in this rambling home with its huge cleared fields, woods and ponds. I loved the shade trees that have clearly been here for generations. The two magnificent chestnut trees were the biggest we’ve ever seen.

The house is amazing. Everywhere I looked there were full sets of chairs — Windsor, Thumb Back stuffed chairs, sofas and wicker chairs — all begging one to sit, relax, and enjoy.

I spent a lot of enjoyable time in the large kitchen. It includes a table for eight, a five-burner gas stove and beautiful cupboards galore filled with everything I needed to prepare meals. Choose your serving style, from the stack of 25 matching green Fiestaware plates to a beautiful English china set. Even sandwiches looked fancy on these!

The back lawn was chosen for an impromptu soccer game for the grandsons and a competitive game of beanbag toss for the siblings. Family games on the screened porch were enjoyed by all — especially Vishal who won a very competitive game of Apples to Apples.

This stately yellow house and its gray shingled outbuildings are in tip-top shape — particularly impressive in the early morning with dew on the grass and shadows cast from the large trees and buildings.

While you seem to be in peaceful farm country, you are only a few miles from York Harbor and Beach and the stunning Nubble Head Lighthouse. In need of some new school clothes before I started teaching again the next week, I was very pleased to discover we were only 5 minutes from Kittery’s outlet stores. I left George reading on the screened porch and went shopping. He was still there when I got back!

Before we arrived, we all met in Wells to enjoy the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm, where we took a short walk through the woods to a gorgeous and amazingly uncrowded beach, followed up by a great lunch at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunk.

In York, we found beaches crowded, but we’re not beach people so we stayed mostly to the farm, soaking in the gracefulness of the house and grounds without having to do all the work required to maintain such a huge historical property.

Life here long ago must have been very different. Framed photos and paintings of the house and farm showed cows, sheep and chickens to be tended, and lots of fields to be hayed. If the bedrooms were full, they must have had a lot of children.

I did feel a bit guilty, just gazing at the beauty of this home, reading and relaxing with no responsibilities except to write this column. I can only hope the Ram’s Head Farm families of the past had time to enjoy the stunning beauty of this place. And that you do, too!

Conclusion

Before dinner on our second and last night, after all the kids and grandkids headed home, Linda and I sat out front on the wrap-around porch. Shaded by old maples, a nice breeze cooling us off, we could see down across the fields to the York River. A cardinal called from the nearest maple. A bluebird zipped past. And we said thank you to Marion Fuller Brown and her family for making it possible for people to experience this very special place.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed in the “Best of Maine” section.

Celtic Celebration

While we are sad that the awesome Skye Theater in Carthage (between Wilton and Dixfield) is closing, we’re glad to hear that owner Phill McIntire will continue to organize Celtic concerts through western Maine.

If you’ve never been to the Skye Theater, you better get to one of the final concerts scheduled there in September as part of Phill’s new Western Maine Music Week, announced for Sept. 10-17.

In addition to concerts in many western Maine towns from Rangeley to Stratton to Phillips, the Skye Theater will host two farewell concerts. Linda and I hope to be there.

A full schedule can be found with artists, venues, ticket prices and start times at www.necelticarts.com or by calling 207-562-4445.