SACO – “Do you have to water it?”

The answer is no. You don’t have to water a thatched roof (unless it’s of the living variety). But that one’s among the many questions Jon Meek fielded when his wife, Deborah, and he first listed this property for sale a dozen years ago.

Today, the home is listed for sale once again by Deborah and Jon (of the Tru Brit Group at Keller Williams Realty) and the Meeks have a fair idea of what to expect: A lot of questions from prospective buyers, and a lot of general curiosity. After word got out about the thatched roof all those years ago, an open house actually snarled traffic on this private road, drawing the attention of puzzled police.

After all, thatched roofs are far to seek in Maine. (Apart from a cottage in the children’s garden at the Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens, we don’t know of any other, but would be happy to be informed of them.)

This timber-framed house, with its stone and its distinctive roof, appears to have been built around 1650 and magically transported from a village in the British Isles to poetically named Windemere Lane. But it was built in 2002, and the roof was done by Colin McGhee, master thatcher, of McGhee & Co. Roof Thatchers, “thatching in North America since 1991.”

A native of England, McGhee notes on that “I decided at the tender age of 7 that I wanted to be a thatcher. When I was 16, my school counselor gave me the names of 50 thatchers working in England, and I began looking for an apprenticeship. In England, a 5 year apprenticeship, in addition to college courses, is mandatory before a thatcher can work alone.”

The thatch, Jon Meek explains, is water reed, applied in bundles to hidden stainless steel rods. Its life span? Meek cites McGhee, that “A roof thatched with water reed will last approximately 70 years with very little maintenance. The ridge will need to be reworked every 10 to 20 years.” (McGhee adds that he has worked on thatched roofs that are more than 100 years old.)

Other thatched-roof characteristics Meek offers in regards to this home: “The roof is 12-14 inches thick, highly durable and energy-efficient. The fire risk is low, with this type of reed smoldering rather than burning. It is a tightly packed wax substance and has the same insurance rating in Holland as clay tiles. Furthermore, to conform to building codes, a fire retardant with extinguishing properties has been added.”

In addition to wonderful British charm, the 2,606-square-foot home has a strong Maine identity, thanks to post-and-beam construction; a classic New England farmhouse big house, little house, back house, barn pattern; and a cedar-shingled back to the house. An expansion in 2008 added an attached barn, with a second, private-entrance master suite above it.

The home at 14 Windemere Lane is listed for sale at $459,000.

For more information or to arrange a private viewing, please contact Deb Meek at 553-2662, 553-1377, or at [email protected].


Produced by the Marketing Department of the Portland Press Herald, the Design feature is provided at no cost.

Photos by Melanie Sochan, staff photographer.

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