Towering granite columns and a yellow brick exterior frame the palatial West Mansion in Portland’s West End, but the home’s most striking feature is the price tag — it’s the most expensive single-family property in Greater Portland.

It’s also for sale. The 103-year-old Georgian Revival at 181 Western Promenade, dubbed “The West Mansion,” is owned by Gary Elliot and Dorene Shughrue and listed with Keller Williams Realty at $2,995,000. The mansion has been on the market for about a month, according to John Hatcher, the Realtor representing the sellers.

With its two-story portico held up by Ionic columns, Renaissance-inspired balustrade and red-tinned roof, the mansion is an imposing structure that begs passersby to stop and gawk. But the interior details are just as impressive.

The 13,674-square-foot mansion boasts 24 rooms, including nine bedrooms and five and a half baths, 10 working fireplaces, a library with leaded glass bookshelves, an updated kitchen, a billiards room and a three-car garage.

The centerpiece of the home is a dramatic three-story winding staircase crafted with tiger maple. A second story balcony, which faces west, offers commanding views of Maine mountains with New Hampshire’s White Mountains in the distance. The light fixtures are by Tiffany. Gary Elliot said the stained glass window in the entryway is rumored to be Tiffany as well, but has never been confirmed.

The Elliots bought the mansion in 2009 for $1.8 million, according to city tax assessor’s records. The estimated annual taxes on the property are $25,957 with a monthly estimated mortgage payment of $16,077.81. The assessed value of the property, last calculated in 2007 for property tax purposes, was $1,337,300.

Elliot, a biotech consultant, said the mansion is “one of a kind in Portland.”

He said that an insurance claims agent told him that to replace the home today would cost more than $10 million.

Elliot said he was drawn to the home because he’s an old soul at heart, but now that their children are grown, it was just him and his wife living in the West Mansion.

“I don’t see myself as an owner so much as a custodian taking care of the home until I can pass it along to another family,” he said.

PATRICIAN PEDIGREE

Multi-million dollar homes are an anomaly in Greater Portland.

The median price for single-family homes in the city of Portland was $223,500, according to a 2013 survey from the Maine Real Estate Information System. In Cumberland County, the annual survey found the median home price to be $230,000.

The neighborhood along the Western Promenade, however, is dotted with historical homes, including some designed by famed architect John Calvin Stevens, and stands out as one of the most expensive areas in Portland.

Hatcher said he has recently sold homes at 151 Vaughn St. for $957,500; 29 Bowdoin St. for $1.6 million and 155 Western Promenade for $1.35 million. But he said that no other homes in the area have the historical significance or grandeur of the West Mansion.

If the mansion was built with the same materials today, Hatcher said that it would probably cost around $10 million. But in 1911, it was constructed for $100,000 — still an exorbitant amount of money at that time.

The home was designed in 1910 by Portland-born architect Fredrick A. Tompson and was built the following year for George Fletcher West, a utilities magnate and former Portland City Councilor. The West family lived in the home for 30 years until West’s death in 1943.

Tompson also designed the YMCA building on Congress Square, which was later demolished to expand the Portland Art Museum, and the Masonic Temple at 415 Congress St. He is best-known for his residential architecture and designed several other homes on the Western Promenade.

SHOWCASE FROM SHAMBLES

Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, has studied the mansion since the 1960s and said the home’s location, scale and attention to detail sets it apart.

“Its elaboration, both on the exterior and no expense seems to be spared on the interior,” Shettleworth said, noting the dramatic staircase and beautiful woodwork.

The mansion is filled with details original to the house, including stained-glass windows, delicately carved crown molding and wainscoting, an old Portland-made safe, painted wallpaper and intricate ceilings.

There’s a conservatory with leaded glass windows and an Asian-inspired room with wallpaper made from the linings of Chinese tea boxes framed with a faux bamboo finish.

In 2003, the West Mansion was the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s designer show house, in which each room was elaborately decorated by a different interior designer and visitors paid $20 to tour the home. For the show house, the kitchen was updated with granite counter tops, white cabinets and camouflaged appliances. Central air conditioning was also installed.

In the last century the mansion has also hosted various events and weddings. The current owners have primarily used the property as a private residence.

Pictures and letters archived by Greater Portland Landmarks show the mansion fell into disarray in the period between West’s death and the 1980s. Documents show that one owner illegally rented out the rooms and used the mansion as a boarding house until the city asked him to stop. The original shutters were taken off the building, the white granite columns grew dingy and gray and the landscape was overgrown.

Shettleworth said that the mansion “looked a bit like something from Gone with the Wind” during this time.

RESTORED AND REVIVED

When Maine philanthropists Albert and Judith Glickman bought the home in the 1980s, they worked with local architect George Therrien to restore the mansion to its original glory. Under the Glickmans’ ownership, the landscaping was tamed, the granite was power-washed and the shutters were put back in place, eventually qualifying the mansion for an historic marker.

The restoration, Shettleworth said, indicates the revival that the city of Portland has also undergone.

Since the Glickmans listed the property in 1989 for $1.2 million — it sold for $629,300 — the home has changed hands five times, according to city records.

While Hatcher said that a few clients have visited the home, there have not been any offers yet.

Chelsea Diana — 791-6337

[email protected]

Twitter: ChelseaDiana_

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.