Camouflaged by a tangle of vines and fallen trees, this month’s dump is the ugly duckling of Amerescoggin Road in swanky Falmouth Foreside. The quiet, dead-end street is lined by immaculately maintained homes and soaring pine trees. Distracted by the view of bobbing sailboats, it’s easy to walk right past this dump on the way down to Casco Bay. But if you peer past the old garage at 9 Amerescoggin Rd., the corner of a house is just visible through the green jungle that has enveloped it.
The property belonged to the late Jayne Kimball, whose estate is now in the care of Elizabeth Franco, a dentist who practices in Auburn. Franco was reluctant to comment. The property is “going through an estate-settling process,” she said. Pressed for more details, she added, “A public forum in a newspaper is not the correct way of obtaining information about the property.” She encouraged neighbors to speak with her directly if they have concerns.
According to neighbors, between three and six years have passed since anyone lived in the house. Resident Mike Cardente recalled that Kimball was very friendly, and lived there alone after her husband passed away. It’s unclear whether the house began to deteriorate while Kimball was alive, or if its condition went downhill after her death. But by the time a large tree fell onto the house last winter, it was already in pretty bad shape.
Leaf litter and weeds smother the driveway, and bamboo-like plants have grown to head-height in the backyard. The area around the house is a modern-day archeological site: broken vases filled with beans, prescription bottles containing crumbling pills, a hand-painted sign that says “garden” stuck in dirt in front of the porch. A large motorboat in the yard collects rain and dead leaves, its cushions embroidered with moss.
After the tree fell on the house, the Franco family put a chain-link fence around the lot to secure the property. Otherwise, there’s been little progress over the years. “It’s probably an unfortunate circumstance where the family [of the deceased] is unable to take care of it for whatever reason, or doesn’t have an interest in it,” said Falmouth’s Community Development Director, Amanda Stearns, who was alerted to the property’s condition by a concerned neighbor.
Stearns said there are only a few vacant houses, in any condition, in Falmouth Foreside, where property values typically reach into the million-dollar range. “I wouldn’t say it’s a common occurrence,” she said.
Despite the house’s condition, “it’s not a property that’s been forgotten about,” said Cardente. Residents of two different homes on Amerescoggin Road said they had inquired about buying the property — it’s valued at just over $300,000 — but the family wasn’t interested in selling.
With a little imagination, it’s possible to envision this home in its glory days — rocking chairs on the wide front porch, overlooking a well-tended garden. Beneath the mess of vegetation, the gray-shingled house is actually pretty nice. And it’s got a three-story tower with windows on all sides, some of which must have offered great views of Casco Bay before the vines grew to cover the glass.
— Emily Guerin