The homes along Cape Elizabeth’s Ocean House Road run the gamut from stately to quaint. Then there’s number 75. Mother Nature is doing her best to hide the place’s decrepit condition behind a dense thicket of bushes and brambles, and this winter she seems determined to bury it entirely in snow.
When I investigated in early February, the first thing I noticed about this Dutch Colonial was its sea-sick green shingles. Coming in a close second was the half-collapsed side porch, the screens that once enclosed it reduced to tatters. An ancient American flag hung by the front door was similarly shredded. The decorative black eagle mounted next to it creates a creepy tableau.
The upper-floor windows appeared to be frosted or filmed over, like eyes clouded by cataracts. Tchotchkes sat upon the dark windows below. Around back, tall radio antennae protrude from the snowpack. A vehicle festooned with more antennae sat half-buried in the unplowed driveway.
Property records indicate the place belongs to Bryce Porter Rumery, of Portland. A Google search indicates that Rumery was the contact for the Portland Amateur Wireless Association’s 2010 Hamfest/Convention, which explains the presence of all the antennae, if little else.
Neighbors and other sources say Rumery is in an assisted-living facility these days. The house hasn’t been inhabited in quite some time. A local real estate broker said the home is full — quite literally — of stuff Rumery has hoarded over the years (old newspapers, antiques and junk), as is the immobile vehicle. The broker visited Rumery numerous times in an attempt to persuade him to sell the property, but was rebuffed. Rumery is, to put it politely, exceedingly eccentric, sources say. Similar sales inquiries are routinely made at Cape Elizabeth’s Town Hall, the broker said. All in vain.
The deteriorating condition of the house is a growing concern for town officials. Code enforcement officer Benjamin McDougal said he hasn’t had any luck tracking down Rumery’s relatives to discuss cleaning up the property. McDougal added that the fate of the house will likely be one of two grim scenarios: either the property will be sold after Rumery passes away and the probate process runs its course, or the town will go to court seeking permission to demolish it.
A third option, complete encasement in ice and snow, seems increasingly possible.
— Patrick Banks