Let’s Move to Coastal Maine 1920’ish
One day back in the early 1920s, my grandmother and grandfather, Frank and Anne (Clark) Coupe moved from Massachusetts to the Nubble in search of a coastal Maine lifestyle, at a time when things were very different. As you see, in the early 1920s people in New England were fleeing to cities like Boston to work and live. Moving to Maine was not a popular idea and the prices were nothing like they are today! Family and friends thought my grandparents were crazy to want to move to Maine. However, they packed up everything they owned and headed north to build a home and life on the Nubble in York, Maine. Today I am embracing my roots and sharing this coastal Maine heritage and love story with you.
What is the Nubble?
The Nubble is a piece of land that is attached to the mainland at low tide and becomes an island at high tide. The famous and most photographed Nubble Lighthouse (Cape Neddick Light Station) sits on the Nubble in York, Maine. It was a manned coast guard station until it was automated in 1987.
It is here on Nubble road, where my grandfather built his first home along with four seaside cottages overlooking the rocky coast of Maine. The cottages were rented out summer after summer to the same visitors every year. He named it “The Sea Turn”.
Here I am with my grandfather, Frank Coupe at his Sea Turn home on Nubble road in 1969. All photos are family-owned photos that my mother collected and saved over the years.
The York Weekly published an article over a decade back with aerial views documenting the development of the Nubble by my grandfather, Frank Coupe. In this photo, you can see there were barely any other homes in this area at that time.
Coupe’s Gift Shop
At the same time, my grandparents, Frank & Anne (Clark) Coupe opened up a Fried Clam Hut, which was then replaced with Coupe’s Gift Shop out at Nubble Point, another coined term for the land.
The gift shop sold mostly novelty items, postcards, toys, cards, pewter, and more.
Coupe’s Lobster Pound (House)
My grandparents also opened up Coupe’s Lobster Pound (House) right across the street. After a long day on the sea, the local lobstermen would pull directly up to Coupe’s Lobster Pound in their boats with the catch of the day. The building remains there today and runs as Fox’s Lobster House.
This is a menu from Coupe’s Lobster Pound that a York High School friend, Missy Ackerman sent to me after the passing of her own mother, Edith Ackerman a few years back. Mrs. Ackerman went to York Schools with my mother in the ’30s, working and living upstairs at Coupe’s Lobster Pound. Missy Ackerman found this menu amongst her mother’s things and was so kind to send it to me. Mom instantly remembered typing up all the menus back in the day. And how about those prices?
My Mother was born in 1924
My mother Shirley Anne Coupe was born in 1924 and spent her life growing up on the Nubble. Attending York High School and then Brewster Academy and Oak Grove Schools. In this picture, around the time of 1926, my mother with her collie dog can be seen on the Nubble before the development of homes, as we all know it today.
Mom always had a dog by her side and loved working summers for my grandparents out at the Nubble.
A Blind Date
My mother met my father, Kenneth Couser from Dover, NH at York Beach’s ball field. The story goes, that my father saw my mother throw a softball and asked one of her friends to introduce them. It was then that a friend fixed them up on a blind date. Here they are photographed at Short Sands Beach, York, Maine in about 1948.
This is my favorite photo of my parents, which was mailed to my mother, by a girlfriend of hers when she was about 90 years old. She had never seen this picture before.
My parents were married in 1948 at the Star of the Sea Church in York Beach, followed up with a reception at Coupe’s Lobster Pound. I was later married at the same church in 1998.
Let’s Call the Nubble Home
After living in Dover, NH for a short time, my grandfather, who was a builder, offered to build my parents a home adjacent to his own on the Nubble. A small two-bedroom cape with cedar shakes, blue shutters, and a two-car garage overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
A House Fire
One morning in the 1950s sometime, my father went to work and the house caught on fire! The sun beaming off the ocean heated up the living room curtains just enough to start the fire. My mother, in bed and sleeping at the time managed to get out safely. Unfortunately, everything in the house was lost. Taking it all in stride, my grandfather rebuilt the same home. But this time, without the large living room picture windows.
A Gift Shop Fire
My grandfather eventually sold Coupe’s Lobster pound, to the Fox family and it remains Fox’s, Lobster House to this day. My parents would go on to manage the seasonal Coupe’s Gift Shop for several years until it also burned down in the early 1980s by a local arsonist. The arsonist went on to attempt to burn down another local establishment, The Nubble Light Dining Room the very next evening. It did not burn to the ground, and that is when the arsonist was caught, going back the third night in a row to finish the job.
The town of York, owning the land at that time would not renew the lease for my family to rebuild the gift shop.
I have such fond memories of the gift shop with family gatherings, employee clambakes, sleepovers, collecting shells, climbing the rocks, and visiting the Boston Gift Shows with my dad.
A couple of years ago I found a gift wrap cutter that was used at the gift shop in the attic of my parent’s home and repurposed it into a decorative display on our bookcase at our home in Vermont.
- Taking morning sunrise and evening sunset photographs that we would later sell as slides at the gift shop’s counter by the dozens.
- Collecting seashells, starfish, and sea urchins on the rocks.
- I would make mobiles out of the collected seashells and hang them at the gift shop for the tourists to purchase. I’m not sure any of them ever really sold, as I think maybe my parents just made me believe they did:)
- Join my father every summer morning to collect the trash at the Nubble. A town requirement for having a gift shop.
- Meeting and greeting all the visiting buses as they stopped at the Nubble directing all their passengers into the gift shop.
- Sleepovers in one of the four bedrooms upstairs in the gift shop. Listening to the night’s foghorn, ocean waves, and rickety floors. Musty smells, rustic charms, and the lighthouse’s flashing red light.
Grateful to be an Only Child
My mother, Shirley Coupe was an only child and so am I. Mom had been told early on that she would not be able to have children. One day though when they were visiting the World’s Fair in 1964 in NYC, she realized she had not been feeling well and was extremely tired on the trip.
Upon returning to Maine, she visited a doctor, who gave her the news that she was 6 months pregnant and she would deliver me at the age of 41 years old and my father at the age of 45. Which was kind of a big deal back then… The Coastal Maine heritage would live on.
As time went on, my grandmother passed away, and my grandfather remarried. When my grandfather passed away at the age of 75 he left his home and seaside cottages to his second wife. For tenuous legal reasons, my mother was not able to collect any of her parent’s things. Not even something as simple as her mother’s hand-made braided rugs. Looking back and telling this story, I am always amazed at how strong my mother was through all this.
The Nubble was now getting pretty popular and very overcrowded with house after house being built. The seaside cottages that my grandfather had owned were eventually sold and replaced with oversized and expensive homes. The small cape that my parents lived in was now engulfed by large homes and out-of-towners. Convincing my mother to leave wasn’t easy, but my father managed to convince her to sell the home that her father had built for them not once, but twice!
A New Raeside-Dame Home
My parents bought a piece of land in Cape Neddick, Maine, and built a Raeside-Dame home in 1992. What is a Raeside-Dame Home? An early American reproduction home built by two gentlemen, Raeside and Dame who were builders on the New England seacoast. At this time my parents were in their early 70’s and more than ready to make a change. The home on the Nubble sold immediately, and my parents moved into temporary housing until the home was completed in 1992. I remember being so proud of them for making such a large decision at their age. And it was absolutely the right choice.
At the time they built this house they both thought they would spend a good 10 years here. Well, they had almost a wonderful 30 years here! A true love story.
Embracing my Roots in Coastal Maine
My parents went on to live extraordinarily healthy lives for the next 28 years. Dad played tennis until he was 86 years old, and if asked he would say the only reason he stopped is that he didn’t have any more competition. He also mowed the lawn and drove his car until he was about 98 years old. He passed away peacefully at home just shy of 100 years.
Mom enjoyed her time here working for York Community Services, antiquing, decorating, and being with all her lifelong friends. She passed peacefully at the age of 93 years old at The Edgewood Centre in Portsmouth. It was a very happy life for them both and this home couldn’t have been more dear to them.
The House Today
My husband and I inherited the home in 2019 and it is just as dear to us. I have been blogging about all the renovations and decorating, along with the time we have spent here in the featured blog series “In My Mother’s Home“. The first post in the series, Our Family Inherited Coastal Maine Home starts off when we first inherited the home. I hope you’ll join me and follow along as I continue the journey of our Coastal Maine heritage and embracing my roots. Sign up for my monthly newsletter and never miss a post.
I will be sure to update this post too, as I find more family treasures hidden away.
Do you like this stone fire pit that is now in the backyard? We found all the stones on the property and made it all ourselves!
The first treasure I found upon inheriting the home was the original architectural drawings, which I had framed and hung on the dining room wall as you enter the home.
You may also join me every month thrifting for our homes in a weekly series I host, Thrifting with the Gals!
During the winter months, we enjoy our time at our home in the mountains of Vermont. I’d love for you to join us there as well.
I’m so glad you dropped by today friend, and if you are new to my blog, welcome! I hope you enjoyed your visit with us here today in Coastal Maine. Please join me as a regular here at Dabbling & Decorating. Sign up for my Saturday Morning Newsletter below and never miss an update!
I’ve created the above custom pin just for this post! Hearing from you makes my day too~ Your comments mean so much to me! Please join me on Instagram & Pinterest to see more!
- Inside with Stonewall Kitchen | What Happens on a Bloggers Retreat?
- Antiquing Down East, A Day’s Jaunt
- Summer Destination Maine, Stonewall Kitchen
- Beachcombing, Blue Mussels, and an Antique Bowl
- The Best Maine Stonewall Kitchen Gift Baskets
- Embracing Summer’s End
- My Favorite Beach Day Essentials
- Coastal Maine Heritage – Embracing My Roots
- Go Green – A Visit to Snug Harbor Farm, Maine
- My Favorite Second-Hand Shops from Vermont to Maine
Kim | Shiplap and Shells says
Oh, Ann, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this. I now know what the Nubble is. First, I can’t believe the curtains getting hot from the sun would cause a fire. How scary. I love the picture of your mom and dad that was given to your mom late in her life. How amazing that your dad mowed the lawn and played golf for so long. You were such a wonderful gift to your parents. I know they would be so happy to see what you’ve done and continue to do to honor them and keep their home alive and better than ever.
Kim, you are so kind! This took me quite a while to write and will forever be a work in progress. Thank you so much, my dear friend!
What a wonderful article! Coming from the Midwest, I have always wanted to visit the New England area, especially Maine. It looks so beautiful. What a wonderful childhood you had. Thank you for sharing!
Michelle thank you kindly. I hope you get to visit someday. There’s nothing like the rocky coast of Maine. Happy Mother’s Day!
Thank you so very much for sharing this truly wonderful story about your family- it made my day. I love how you are decorating your Maine house & enjoy the thrifting stories. Your mother would love how the house is progressing.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, Liz. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
Leslie Richter says
What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing your family history and photos on your blog. I am very familiar with the places you mention. My husband and I rented a cottage in York every summer for many years. Heading to Maine for the week was always a highlight of the summer! Like you, I am also an only child, and my parents owned a summer camp on a lake in the Adirondacks. Over the years we spent more time at camp and helping my parents with projects. My parents are gone and now the camp is a very special place for us. I have many wonderful memories and photos to document our days at camp. You’ve inspired me to write the history of our camp ( originally a 1920’s chapel ) for family, friends and eventually future owners.
Have a great day!
Hi Leslie, Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story with me here today. I hope you get the chance to write it all down for yourself. I’m so glad I finally did. Happy Mother’s Day.
Debi JohnsonDouglas says
What a Lovely story ! I really enjoy reading and looking at photos ! Thank you for sharing !
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Debi. Thank you so much for joining me here on Mother’s Day.
Diane Baldwin says
What wonderful memories! I love the history and how adventurous your grandparents were. I, too, was born when my mother was 42, I had 4 brothers, 2 are deceased now. She said she kept trying till she got her girl:)
Diane, I just love hearing this story. There’s so much history to enjoy isn’t there? Happy Mother’s Day my friend!
Rachel Harper says
Oh my gosh. This story is so amazing! I have tears in my eyes. I have to tell you that my mother was one of 9 children and her mother died when she was 14. When my grandfather died he gave everything to his two sons. My mother and her sisters didn’t get anything that had belonged to their mother. My mom was so hurt because she was the baby and took care of my grandfather after her mom died. She would sometimes say thing like I remember my mother’s quilt! I wonder where it is now! It’s so sad to be left with no treasures.
I loved this Ann. Great post.
Thank you so kindly, Rachel. We really share a great deal in common, don’t we?
Patricia Swenson says
Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story! We are down to just cousins remaining in my Mother’s family and I seem to be the one who still has the family pictures of a bygone time and remembers those who are gone. I also enjoy following you on your adventures to find antiques in Vermont and Maine 🙂.
Thank you so much, Patricia! I’m so grateful you are here to join me. Happy Mother’s Day!
Ann Woleben says
Your family’s history is fascinating and a true love story. Thank you for sharing. Happy Mother’s Day!
Thank you so much, Ann. I’m so happy you enjoyed the story. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
Louise Spaulding says
What a wonderful story and legacy !!! Thank you for sharing! I believe I’ve been to the church you write about … I attended my college roommates wedding in York in 1989 (I think) . We met at Rivier college in Nashua and she was from Portsmouth My family loves Maine as I may have mentioned before and have visited the area you write about. 💐
Really Louise? It’s a little green church down near the beach. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and Happy Mother’s Day to you!
I am just finding your blog, and this wonderful story. We grew up going to Maine for vacation every year. I have pictures of me as a baby in my Mother’s arms outside of this sweet church.
ca 1956 I am the youngest of 5, we were all there. Next to a sign that says Mass Schedule.. You evoked many wonderful memories for me. We still visit Nubble Light at least once a year. Thank you!
Wow Ann what a beautiful recollection of your heritage in such a stunning place. How wonderful that you were able to grow up in such a place as coastal Maine. It’s incredible to hear how your family was so involved in the early development of The Nubble.
Sharon, I appreciate you dropping by today so much. I enjoy seeing you on Instagram every morning. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
Helen Varacallo says
I started reading this with the same skepticism I have reading most blog posts. Lots of jazzed up talk about nothing. But, this, this is so real, so refreshing, so genuine. I enjoyed every picture and word. It really touch my heart about your mom getting that picture of her as a young lover, at 90 yo. The joy, memories, feeling it surely brought back. Just, thank you for sharing.
Oh, Helen, your note made my morning on this beautiful Mother’s Day here in Maine. I am so grateful and I hope you have the best day:)
I really enjoyed the photos and the story ! I’m very envious as I have wanted to live in Maine for most of my adult life. Indiana is sooo boring but my life and my children & grands are here. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Hi Wanda, I’m so glad you enjoyed the story and I hope you can at least visit Maine from time to time. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
What a beautiful story! I loved looking at all of the pictures-you are the spitting image of your Mom!-and seeing the beauty of Maine. Thank you for sharing this story and letting us follow along as you continue this wonderful legacy.
Thank you so much, Tammy. So sweet of you my friend!
Such a beautiful tribute to your Mom. ❤️ Really enjoyed reading and seeing the pictures of your Maine heritage and the home that you are so lovingly restoring. All the precious items that have been shared and saved from fires….oh my goodness!!! I can’t wait to see the updates!
Thank you so much, Casey, I appreciate it greatly!
Lori @the decorated cottage says
Ann this was such a treat! I loved hearing the history of your family on the Maine Coast. The first time we visited Maine our second stop was at the Nubble! And we actually had lunch at Fox’s! I think it’s the one of the most picturesque spots along the coast. I know your parents would be so happy to know the love you are putting into their home, and into these blog posts. Thank you so much for sharing!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Lori!
Cindy McTigue says
This was such a fantastic post and read for Mother’s day coffee.
You have so much history and wonderful memories and treasures. To think sun would be strong enough to set fire to curtains is quite amazing to me.
I love the blind date and that your family was so involved with the heritage.
How awesome is it to have this. This was a true gift to share especially today
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Cindy. I appreciate you stopping by today so much!
Beth G. Wilson says
Love hearing about your Maine life! Thanks!
Thank you so much, Beth!
Oh!! What a wonderful post!!! I felt like I was reading a good novel. I enjoyed every bit of it. I was in shock that the curtains from the sun off the water could start a fire….WOW!!!!
You have come from a rich family history. Wonderful story!!!!
Thank you so much, Addie. Yes isn’t that amazing that the curtains caught on fire? That is what the fire report found. My parents said that room would get so hot too. So those picture windows definitely had to go…
Noël Bodwel says
Ann, What a delightful read! Your writing was rich with history, love stories, courage and determination by your family We go to the Nubble and enjoy blueberry scones and coffee while watching the waves. most every week and now I’ll be looking at it with a whole new perspective.
I love that Noel! Enjoy your scones and the Nubble waves. It’s a beautiful place!
What a lovely heritage you have. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you for taking the time to share. You must have been your parents pride and joy!
Thank you so much, Kathy, so sweet of you my friend!
Laura Kolwaite says
Ann this was such a lovely story of your beautiful family!! I throughly enjoyed reading it!!
Thank you so much, Laura. I really appreciate it!
Susan Farkas says
I absolutely loved reading this. I think I have been to almost all the locations you mention including sleeping above the gift shop! I love what you and Steve have done with your mom and dad’s house. For me, they will always be “forever young!”
I’m so glad Susan, it wasn’t easy to write. It took me forever but I’m glad it’s finally done. My mother has an amazing collection of photos going back to high school. All marked and dated. Pretty amazing. Miss seeing you.
Rachel Smith says
I loved reading this story. I even read it out loud to my husband. Thank you for sharing a beautiful love story.
Rachel, that is amazing thank you so much. You made my day!
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful family story. I’m on the other side of the world “Sydney, Australia” yet have a very similar story. My grandparents, originally from England settled in the 1920s in a beautiful area 2 hours north of Sydney called “The Entrance”.
It is right by the ocean and back in those days was only visited by tourists in the summer months. My grandfather started a riding school and little by little bought the land surrounding the horse yards reaching down to the ocean. He built holiday houses and ran many successful local businesses My childhood holidays where spent in this wonderful place for which I have so many fond memories of. Unfortunately, the land and houses where all sold off to make way for large tourist developments and today it’s all high rise apartments. Though the beauty of the seaside still remains and I’m forever grateful for the memories
That is so interesting Natalie. Thank you so much for sharing it all with me. It is hard to see all the large development in such beautiful places. Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Lovely story! I’m another only child born to a 41 year old mother. I grew up in New Castle and now live in another Raeside Dame in Eliot. The interesting thing about these homes is that Ken and Bob never built the same house twice. Each has its own character and quirkiness. Thanks for sharing
Linda that is so amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me. Don’t you love the Raeside-Dame homes!
Ann I didn’t really have a mom and it was so much fun to read about yours! Maine is one of my favorite places, and deep in the winters in montana I play you tubes of Maine by the sea! If you are ever in Bozeman we have a sweet air Bnb named Lily Pond Cottage inBig Sky Country, I’ll bet you would love it. Thank you for transporting me to Maine and meeting up with your dear family today! My daughter is now living in Italy and so it made a bit of a sad Mother’s Day great!
Thank you so kindly, Christel. Your Air B&B sounds amazing. Montana is such a beautiful place! Thank you so much for stopping by today.
Debbie Guess says
What a beautiful story of your family, I enjoyed reading it very much.
Thank you so much, Debbie!
I just adore this story of your family and your home! As a Vermont girl, my husband and I travel to Maine each year (with the exception of 2020). We always to the York, Ogunquit, Wells area and absolutely love it. The next time we visit the Nubble lighthouse I will think of you and your family.
Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story!!!
Aww thank you so much, Maria, it’s such a joy to have you here with me!
Ann — I loved reading your family story about life in Maine throughout the last century! I feel so lucky to call Maine my adopted state now and love learning more about its history. And what a history your family has here! Thanks for sharing it with all of us!
Thank you so much, Molly, I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it all. Aren’t we both so lucky to call Maine home!
Marlene Stephenson says
What wonderful memories, I enjoyed reading this and seeing your pictures, thank you, have a great week.
Thank you so much, Marlene. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Kim Waldorf says
I enjoyed this post so much, Ann! What a treasured history you have there on the coast. I was surprised about the curtains catching fire from the sun! Unbelievable! I am also an only child. Looking forward to hearing more of your stories!
Thank you so much, Kim, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I really enjoyed reading this story and learning more about the history of The Nubble. And also reading your parents love story! Since we live in NH, we have been up there quite a bit, have eaten at Fox’s Lobster House many times, followed by an ice cream at Browns.! I was sorry they closed, but at least there is Dunn’s now. It is such a beautiful area, you have the best of both worlds, the mountains in Vermont and the seashore in Maine. And I enjoy your posts and stories sharing your life and thrifting in both places! Thanks for writing a beautiful story and sharing the historical photos!
Debbie, thank you so much for all your kind words. Brown’s was the best!!
Oh Ann, thank you for sharing this wonderful story of your family’s journey. The pictures are priceless! I have followed you on Instagram for a while but never read this. Thanks again😊❤
Aww thank you so much, Patricia, I’m so glad you stopped by!
Marie Batson says
Ann, writing to you from S,E, Washington state. Kudos to you and your husband for cherishing your family’s heritage and wanting to preserve it..
I am 80 yrs old and have visited the East coast only once with my beloved husband, now deceased. We loved the drastic difference comparing to our Pacific Northwest and always felt like I belonged there instead. Thank you so much for sharing and I envy you on this love story and continuing to build on what has been given to you from the past.
Hi Marie, thank you so much for stopping by today. It’s so nice to hear from you, my friend!!
Betsy Cunningham says
Ann, I loved reading the history of your family and their contributions to the area. Maine is very special in my heart; both my parents were born and raised in Maine. Mum in Cherryfield and Dad in Danforth; both have been gone a long time now. I sat up straight when I read your mother went to Brewster Academy and Oak Grove! My mother also went to Oak Grove but she would have been ahead of your mom by quite a few years; she was born in 1916. And I grew up in Wolfeboro, NH where as you know, Brewster Academy is located. I just had to share this with you!
At my age, I am not supposed to be ‘adding’ things to my home but cleaning out a bit. But I cannot help myself; I love to visit antique and consignment shops and estate sales, etc. As hard as I try, items do get purchased and brought home! The next time we are in Kennebunk I hope to visit some of the shops you mentioned in Wells and Ogunquit. And in the fall we might take a road trip to So. Vt with stops at various shops and end up in Saratoga Springs.
Thank you again; I love reading about both your lovely homes. Betsy
F. Kut says
What a wonderful story! And partially so sad that I had to cry almost. So sorry to hear that your mom was not able to get any items from her own mother when your grandfather died! It sounds so ruthless to hear that not the smallest item was given to your mom! There are a lot of things we might not regard as fair today, but in the end, your mother had your wonderful father, and they both had a very special gift: you. Such a beautiful present surely will weigh out anything in life! Great to hear how you and your family now is looking after this valuable family gem together. Enjoy many happy years with your family as your parents did 🙂 .
I wish you right now a wonderful Christmas!
Thank you kindly for your words. We are very grateful. Happy holidays my friend🙏
What a wonderful story!!!Thank you so much.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it😃
The invitation for your parents marriage spells your mother’s name: Shyrlee (which is lovely and unique) yet, Shirley is used throughout your wonder roots story telling. Just wondered about this.
Oh my Lana you are so perspective! My mother’s birth certificate spelled her name Shirley and she always disliked her name, so when she was in high school she changed the spelling to Shyrlee thinking it was more chic… It caused her issues most of her life and she changed it back to Shirley a couple years before she passed at about 91 years old so there wouldn’t be any lingering issues. I can’t believe you noticed this as it’s so funny to us. And now I never know which spelling to use!
Susan Conti says
I grew up in Cumberland but have lived in MA now since the late 80’s. I miss Maine so much and grateful to still have dear friends and some family that live in the area for when I return. Thank you for sharing your story. Maine is a special place.
Thank you so much for stopping by Susan😘