A Gilded Age estate built on an island off the coast of Falmouth has been sold to a local family for nearly $4.1 million in one of the highest recorded real estate sales in Cumberland County this year.

David Banks, the listing broker, said the buyers live in Falmouth Foreside, and for the time being have asked not to be identified. The property features an 18-room mansion, five beaches, a helicopter landing pad, stone fireplaces, a guest house, stone pier, barn, children’s playhouse, and hiking trails.

The previous owners of the Clapboard Island estate, Al and Dawn Hoffman, could no longer care for the sprawling 22-acre Falmouth property and listed it for sale in 2015, Banks said. The Hoffmans now own a home in Falmouth and in Palm Beach, Florida.

“(The buyers) were looking for a family compound that they could pass on to future generations,” Banks said. “I’ve shown this property to a number of people from around the world and we are thrilled that it will be owned by a local family.”

The 9,000-square-foot estate on the western half of the island has 3,200 feet of water frontage on Casco Bay and a long and rich history. It was built in 1898 by real estate developer Samuel F. Houston and his friend, architect Joseph M. Huston. The estate was built in just 100 days by 100 local artisans with the help of oxen transported from the mainland.


Houston’s family began summering at the estate in 1899 and continued to do so for decades. The Hoffmans bought it in 1999 from a family corporation based in Washington, D.C.

The main home still features its original pine floors made with wood imported from Oregon, stone fireplaces, antique fixtures, and post-and-beam ceilings. The Clapboard Island estate has several wells and uses solar power and generators to produce electricity.

“When you enter the house it feels like you are stepping back in time,” said Teddy Piper, team manager and an associate broker for The David Banks Team, RE/MAX by the Bay. Piper worked with Banks on completing the sale.

Piper said that Al Hoffman served as the United States ambassador to Portugal during the George W. Bush administration. The Hoffmans listed the property for $6.5 million in 2015, but the sale closed on Sept. 14 for $4,070,000, Piper said.

Clapboard Island, which is about a mile from the mainland, is a five-minute boat ride from the Falmouth Town Landing. The island is situated between the mainland and Long and Chebeague islands.

Clapboard Island West will remain private and will be separate from a 15-acre preserve on the eastern end of Clapboard that is owned and operated by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a coastal land conservation organization based in Topsham.

The Clapboard Island East preserve is promoted by Maine Coast Heritage Trust on its website as a kayaking destination and picnicking spot.


Maine Coast Heritage Trust warns visitors that there are two private homes on the island – the estate that was just sold and a second private home surrounded by the 15-acre preserve on the island’s eastern end.

“Please respect their privacy and remain on the preserve when visiting the island,” the trust website states, adding that the preserve is open from dawn until dusk. No overnight camping or fires are permitted on Clapboard Island.

The sale of the property is one of the highest recorded real estate sales in Cumberland County in 2018, Banks said.

He said high-end property sales in Maine seem to be strong.

Banks said that on Tuesday he listed another waterfront estate property in Raymond – this one on Sebago Lake at 64 Sunset Chimney Road.

The 12,000-square-foot home, which includes four bedrooms and eight baths, has been listed for $7.5 million with an estimated monthly mortgage payment of $30,744. The home features arched wooden beams in its great room, a floor-to-ceiling granite fireplace, and a westerly wall of windows with “commanding views of the lake and White Mountains.”

Another top-end sale occurred in February when the summer home of the late billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller on Mount Desert Island sold for $19 million. The buyer’s identity was not disclosed.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

This story was corrected at 10 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2018, to accurately state the background of the man who built the estate on Clapboard Island and who sold it to the previous owners. The original owner, Samuel F. Houston, was a real estate developer in Philadelphia. The Falmouth family that sold the property this month bought it from a family corporation based in Washington, D.C. Incorrect information was provided to the newspaper.

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