A barn that has stood on the corner of Route 32 and Biscay Road in Bremen for centuries has served many uses as the world changed around it, from farming to online retail, with a couple of media appearances in between.
It was built by the Keene family, one of the oldest in Bremen, according to previous news coverage. The building’s age is guessed at 200 years by some, 220 by others.
Joe Vitti, who has owned the barn and lived in the home across the road since 1996, said the property has likely had 12 or 13 owners, making it difficult to chase down the specifics of its history.
He does not know what animals it once housed and fed, for example, though stalls and loft are intact. Bremen itself looked much different at that time, according to Vitti, with almost none of the trees that cover much of the area around the property due in part to the shipbuilding industry.
In “A History of the Towns of Bristol and Bremen in the State of Maine Including the Pemaquid Settlement,” author John Johnston writes the lumber business was particularly active in the area in those days, largely for shipbuilding.
For at least a century of its life, the barn stood 50 feet nearer to the road than it does today.
In 1973, the Maine State Highway Department, now the Maine Department of Transportation, ordered the building moved back because of visibility concerns for drivers.
According to an article in a May 1973 edition of The Lincoln County News, it was moved on May 17 of that year. The work was done by Roland Bragg of Nobleboro Building Movers.
At that time, the LCN reported, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cummings owned the barn and the house across the road. They sold antiques, food, and crafts to passers-by from the barn.
Vitti purchased the property from the couple in 1996. They had lived on the property for 46 years. He sold some things of his own there, he said, until the pandemic began.
Now, the space is a rented home to Maine Coast Rope Rugs, a business making woven rugs from reused lobster float rope. The 50 feet of space between the barn and the road make a dirt parking lot, and the barn is surrounded by piles of lobster float rope.
Owner Dara Kilpatrick stores and weaves her rugs in the barn today for sale across the country and online.
The business’ presence led the barn to be featured on the Maine Cabin Masters television show several years ago, according to owner Dara Kilpatrick.
The hearty boards used to construct it are now in high demand, Vitti said, and he is glad the barn still stands today.
“It’s nice to preserve it instead of knocking it down,” Vitti said as something he appreciated about the Maine approach to buildings.