Source: Stephen G. Smith Architects
An artist’s conception of a potential Wyeth Orientation Center on Horse Point Road in Port Clyde.
PORT CLYDE — Linda Bean hopes to build a new Wyeth “orientation center” at the corner of Horse Point Road and Raspberry Lane, as discussed at a St. George Planning Board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 13.
The architect for the project, Stephen Smith of Camden, and Ronald L. Crusan, who runs Bean’s Wyeth Gallery above the Port Clyde General Store, represented Bean at the meeting and brought a building permit “pre-application” for consideration by the board, a preliminary step that does not include a formal proposal. Between 10 and 15 members of the public also attended.
Smith said the proposed new building would be about 1,500 square feet, have one and a half stories and include an outdoor terrace. It would serve as an educational introduction to the Wyeth family’s arrival and involvement in the Port Clyde area, with a focus on Sidney March Chase, a fellow illustrator who first brought N.C. Wyeth and his family to the region in 1920.
Reached by phone, Bean said the immediate area had great significance for the Wyeths’ history and art. For one, the Wyeth summer home and art studio are just down the road. She said N.C. Wyeth’s painting, “Mrs. Cushman’s House” (1944) depicts the lot on which she hopes to build, and on which there now stand three structures: a small house, a shed and another building that has fallen into disrepair. The buildings would be removed under Bean’s plan and replaced by the new orientation center, which she said would mainly house photographs and text “to orient people to why they came, where they lived.” She said the plan does not include any retail operations.
Bean said she wanted the center to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. “We hope it will be a pleasant, quiet addition to the neighborhood,” she said. She said she expected the center to appeal to a small subset of people, attracting no more than five visitors a day during the summer months and employing one person. She said she had hoped to have the center in place by summer 2017, but did not know how long it would take to work through the Planning Board process.
Planning Board members expressed some concern about space for parking on the 12,000-square-foot lot and whether it could bring significant new traffic to the residential neighborhood.
“I don’t think you would see this as a high-traffic area,” said Smith. “I think you’re probably looking at somewhere between 11 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.”
“I think this might be more popular than you’re leading us on to believe,” said Planning Board member Kate Hewlett later in the discussion.
“I can’t say what the traffic pattern would be for something,” Smith replied. “There’s no building or facility like this in the area.” He said he did not think it would be a “huge traffic situation,” and that any activity would be restricted to the summer months.
At the close of the meeting, Smith said he would work on gathering the necessary information and would bring more concrete plans back to the board. Planning Board Chair Anne Cox said a public hearing date would be set once the board had received a complete application. “I think we need to be very clear about what this project is and everything involved,” she said.
Reporter Dan Otis Smith can be reached at 594-4401 x123 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.