With ties to Native Americans, the underground railroad, rum-running, possible hauntings and shipbuilding, The Farm at French’s Point sports a vibrant past.

In the future, owner Jessika Brooks wants The Farm to continue to be a place where family histories and memories are made. Thus, the extensively renovated nine-bedroom farmhouse on Penobscot Bay may be rented for family reunions and vacations, holiday get-togethers, private weddings, business retreats and educational seminars.

“This has always been a place for people to come together and enjoy the coast,” says Brooks. “We want that to continue.”

Brooks, an avid genealogist, visited historical societies and poured through deeds, records, accounts and books to compile information about The Farm at French’s Point.

Guests will be in good company. According to Brooks’ research, the Abenaki, Tarratine and Penobscot Indian tribes hunted and camped on the site. Trails, pottery, arrow heads and evidence of burial grounds have been unearthed there.

In the mid-1700s, white settlers established permanent residences along the Penobscot River in Stockton Springs. Gen. Samuel Waldo of England, the namesake of Waldo County, and Thomas Pownall, Royal Governor of Massachusetts, led the group.

The English built a fort across the bay from French’s Point, where the lighthouse now stands at Fort Point State Park.

In 1794, Benjamin Shute bought 100 acres on French’s Point. He built the ell portion of the farmhouse, which Brooks says may be the oldest wooden structure in Waldo County.

Benjamin and Polly Shute raised nine children in the home. British soldiers, she says, routinely courted the daughters. One evening, two soldiers reportedly fought and one died after falling down the cellar steps.

Since then, Brooks says ghost sightings – a lady and a soldier – have been common throughout the area. “There have been more than a few unexplained events,” says Brooks, who grew up in a home near The Farm and Hersey Retreat. “Whether it’s ghosts or otherwise, this old house has a lot of personality.”

The Farm at French’s Point also has a secret tunnel. The Shutes reportedly built the 200-foot passage running from the cellar to the shore as an escape route in case of an attack. Prior to the Civil War, Brooks says the tunnel may have been utilized by slaves in the underground railroad. During Prohibition, Brooks says it was rumored the Shutes used the secret passage for rum-running. Today, a portion of the sealed-off tunnel remains in the basement. The outside part of tunnel began crumbling when Brooks’ father Robert was a youth.

According to Brooks, Benjamin Shute’s son, Benjamin Jr., or Squire, established and operated a log cabin post office on the shorefront from 1793 to 1824. Brooks says it reportedly was one of the first three post offices in the state. Horse-drawn carriages delivered mail after it arrived in Stockton Springs by boat. Squire also reportedly used The Farm as a tavern, or halfway house, for travelers.

Squire’s brother Zetham was believed to have searched the cove for hidden treasure that he believed was buried there by Captain Kidd.

According to Brooks, other descendants of Shute built ships and and operated a brickyard on the site.

In 1814, the Shutes sold the house to William French, the namesake of The Farm at French’s Point. French, says Brooks, built the Colonial portion of the home.

Thanks to a bequest from wealthy lumber baron and Civil War hero Gen. Samuel Freeman Hersey of Bangor, the Universalist Church of Bangor purchased the property and The Farm in the 1890s and early 1990s. Hersey, says Brooks, reportedly wanted parish youth to have a retreat where they could collect sea shells, pick blueberries and enjoy the Maine coast. In the 1890s, architect Wilfred Mansur designed the often-photographed Hersey Retreat near the bluffs.

In 2002, the Brooks family purchased The Farm and the Hersey Retreat lodge. Last July, the family began renting The Farm to vacationers. “We finished July 11, 2003,” says Brooks. “As renters were coming in the front door we were running out the back [just completing renovations.]

This fall, Brooks anticipates starting renovations on the Hersey Retreat. She hopes much of the remodeling will be complete by Labor Day of 2005 so she and fiance Chuck Graham can be the first couple to exchange wedding vows in the refurbished lodge.

For Brooks, preserving the past is a passion. “My Dad grew up here and my brother and sister and I grew up here,” she says. “I loved my childhood. It’s important to know who valued what you value now.”

The Brooks family has lovingly restored the ell and Colonial portions of the The Farm at French’s Point and integrated the newer section of The Farm as well. In addition to the nine bedrooms and 5 and 1/2 baths, The Farm features a gourmet kitchen and adjoining dining area. Brooks’ father made the dining room table from a fallen tree. Church pews provide the table seating in front of a grand fireplace (one of five).

Wide-plank wood floors and exposed hand-hewn ceiling beams are throughout the home, which is filled with furniture finds from second-hand dealers and pieces of the Brooks’ family collection – including Brooks’ great grandfather’s crib. Guests can delight in the many nooks, accessories and luxuries, including a reading room with settee, a deep claw foot bathtub, indirect lighting in the molding of the formal parlor ceiling, radiant floor heating and chocolate-covered blueberries on the pillows.

The guests are appreciative. Many vacationers, says Brooks, send back silver spoons to their hosts. The spoons are engraved with the names of the states where the guests reside. The growing gleaming collection hangs on a kitchen wall.

Many rooms and balconies offer panoramic views of the blueberry fields, fields, woods and bay. Brooks says overnighters frequently spy moose and ospreys and other wildlife. Vacationers who revel in the out-of-doors will like the 220 feet of sandy beach ocean frontage, where there’s plenty of room for a lobster bake, beach volleyball and swimming. Breezes tickle the wind chimes in gazebo which overlooks the bluff. Swings await in a grassy field and grandfather Adirondaks dot the grounds. Just outside the house are landscaped gardens and a “singing tree” perfect for child’s play.

On a rainy day or cold night, guests can enjoy the large media room downstairs, which includes a large-screen TV, plenty of movies, three comfy couches, a ping pong table, a piano, a bar, mini kitchen and bathroom.

For more information, prices or to make reservations, contact Brooks at 567.3279; Thistle Industries LLC, 222 Hersey Retreat Road, Stockton Springs 04981; or visit www.farmatfrenchspoint.com.