The Conway House

 

This homestead is one of the earliest houses in the area.  It was built around 1780, possibly by Revolutionary War veteran Simeon Tyler.  It sits on Lot 27 on one of the first parcels assigned by the great landowners known as the Twenty Associates after they had acquired their share of the Muscongus Grant in 1766.  

 

Robert Thorndike, Jr., the son of Rockport’s first settler, also lived here.  In August 1807, Robert Jr. bought Lot 27 for $65 and lived in the house until 1825.  There were two additions on the house in 1806 and 1826. 

 

In 1826, Frederick Conway bought the property, which remained in the family until 1916. William Conway, a brother of Frederick, is remembered for his refusal to haul down the American flag in Pensacola, Florida at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was arrested and placed in irons.  He was later released and continued to serve in the Union Navy until the end of the war.  A tablet memorializing his brave deed was placed at the corner of Elm and School Streets in Camden in the first Conway Day Celebration in 1906.

 

The house is a fine example of the 18th century type of rural construction known as a Cape Cod.  It is surrounded by maples, oaks, lilacs and old apple trees.  The interior is fascinating!  Roof timbers are fastened with treenails and many cellar beams still have their bark covering.  Laths in the walls and ceilings are of hand-split hemlock; beams and heavy sills are hand hewn and with broad axes and adze, and early rose head nails are used in some of the fastenings.

 

The kitchen contains an interesting bake-oven built with the early small bricks.  A simple, early door, measuring only 7/8" thick, was found inside a wall in the kitchen.  Other unique features are:  wide floor boards, bean latches, L and H hinges and one butterfly hinge, and a double brick hearth.  Over the front door is the original four-light transom. There is a most unusual curved entrance hall with a "parson's cupboard."  The Conway property was acquired in rundown condition in 1961 by Mary Cramer and given to the Camden Historical Society of which she was the president.  Mrs. Cramer and many other members of the Society restored the house and furnished it with authentic pieces of household items in use in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  The Conway House first opened to the public in 1962.

 

In 1969 the Conway House was placed on the Maine State Register of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.