Descendants of the building’s first occupants joined the woman who worked tirelessly to save it as businesspeople learned details of the future of the Kenniston Hill Inn Aug. 14 at Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours.
The event drew more than 50 guests to the Russell House, where a model of the “Kenniston House” campus was displayed. Guests were excited and enthusiastic about a new future for an area landmark.
Susan Brackett led a successful fundraising effort in 2014 to save the historic building from demolition. At the Chamber event, she was smiling. Referring to Dr. Chip Teel, local physician, founder and board chair of ElderCare Network of Lincoln County, she told the Boothbay Register, “Chip’s been very thoughtful about putting the plan together for something that’s been needed in our community.”
The detailed model showed a combined campus on Route 27 in Boothbay for Kenniston House and an expanded Boothbay Green residential home.
Teel explained in his remarks to the guests, plans include re-installing the old porch, adding another entry on the side of the Kenniston House, adding two more rooms to Boothbay Green and creating an adult day space.
“We appreciate how patient the community has been,” Teel told guests. “We have been considering what to do about aging in Lincoln County and what our vision should be for Boothbay Green and the Kenniston House.”
Reminding everyone Maine’s population is the oldest in the U.S., Teel said Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport are the oldest towns in the county. “Here in Lincoln County, 25 percent of the population is over 65. That translates to 8,000 of the county’s 34,000 people.”
Saying 90 percent of those people want to remain in their homes, or will need to for financial reasons, Teel asked, “How do we accomplish that?”
He said this was the driving vision for the Kenniston House, so ECNLC can expand who it serves — not only those who live in the seven residential homes in Lincoln County.
“The vision is to provide a place where people can see, touch, feel, purchase and plan how you want to stay in your home as you age,” Teel said. The house will be a clearinghouse for devices and a reliable list of vendors, suppliers and contractors who can help people remain at home.
ECNLC has been working with legislators and Maine State Housing. The organization is open to suggestions and will hold focus groups in the community. Teel hopes the community will embrace the project.
Susan Wilson, ECNLC board member and chairman of the Kenniston House Project, proposed it based on her personal experience after being paralyzed in 1982 and confined to a wheelchair for many years. “I’ve always been thinking about one place that would offer all information needed to help patients in their homes, whether the limitations are accessibility or cognition.”
“ElderCare Network has the funding to take care of our patients,” she explained. ““But we don’t have the funding to provide this county-wide resource. We adopted the building to save it, but we need help taking care of it.”
As Teel was finishing his remarks, ECNLC board member Les Fossel took the microphone and called on the community to support the effort. “The people we are helping now with this are the people who helped us as we have been living here. Now they are older and it’s our turn.”
Learn more about ECNLC at https://www.eldercarenetwork.org/
To contribute to the project, send a check to: ElderCare Network of Lincoln County, P.O. Box 652, Damariscotta, ME 04543. Write “Kenniston House Project” on the memo line.