Remembering the Marcellus Dow house

By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 12, 2019
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez The sprawling farmhouse at the corner of Routes 139 and 7, before it was flattened April 9. According to Historical Society President Paula Miron, the structure was built by Marcellus Dow in 1889 and, in later years, was used as a telephone office and a bank.

Brooks — With the recent demolition of the ramshackle farmhouse in the heart of Brooks, stories have been submitted from the community about the history of the structure and how it ended up in such a state.

Brooks Historical Society President Paula Miron said the structure on the corner of Routes 139 and 7 was originally built around 1889 by Marcellus Dow, who, by all accounts, was an active citizen of Brooks.

According to Seth W. Norwood's "Sketches of Brooks History," prior to construction of the farmhouse, the lot "had been the location of the corner well."

Among some activities Miron listed for Dow: owner of a dry goods store on the property; superintendent of schools; member of the school committee; town selectman; representative to the state Legislature for two years; school teacher; active member of the Masonic Lodge, Knights of Pythias and the Grange; and a newspaper correspondent for The Republican Journal, Bangor Daily News and Kennebec Journal during the late 1880s to early 1900s.

Norwood writes: "Mr. Dow, without doubt, will be best remembered for his activity in behalf and for the cause of Temperance."

Following Dow's death, the building was used as a telephone office and later was home to the Brooks branch of Waldo Trust Co., a bank.

Longtime Brooks resident Emery Whitcomb remembers picking potatoes as a youth back in the 1950s for Ralph Clark and his son Delmont, who lived at the corner farmhouse. Whitcomb said the Clark's 3-acre potato field was located where the community park is now, on Route 139. He said they would sort the potatoes back in the house's cellar.

"He and his father were good to work for," Whitcomb said. "I got paid 20 cents per crate and it didn't take long to fill a crate."

Whitcomb said there use to be a small building in front of the house, a "Dairy Joy," offering ice cream, that was run by Delmont's aunt.

The family also had a farm implement business and sold Ideal equipment. Searsmont Selectman Bruce Brierley recalls both the machinery dealership and Delmont Clark.

"I've been to the house before," Brierley said. "He was a really good guy, very friendly and involved with the town. He was in charge of the town's field day."

After Delmont Clark died, Brierley said, the house "went downhill."

Miron said the property has been vacant and in disrepair for several years. Russell and Andrea Read bought the farmhouse from Delmont Clark's heirs with the intent to develop the property, she said.

Subsequently, the Reads had to relocate and renovations on the residence were cost-prohibitive, so they decided to offer the property to the town, she said.

In 2011, Brooks held a special town meeting to discuss whether to accept the gift of the dilapidated farmhouse. After many views were voiced, the vote was 36 for accepting the property gift and 36 against, leaving the property in private ownership. Miron said in ensuing years, "the property has been on the market and become a major eyesore to downtown Brooks."

The new owner of the property, reached by phone, declined to elaborate on reasons for demolishing the building or future plans for the site.

The Marcellus Dow farmhouse lot April 14, after all remnants of the building have been trucked away. (Photo by: Carolyn Zachary)
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