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Jonathan Bowman built the stylish house and furnished it with exquisite furniture, Chinese export porcelain, and imported silver and glassware, creating a world of beauty and elegance far away from the challenges of life on the Maine frontier. Receipts show that he continued buying for the house right up to his death.
It is thanks to Jonathan Bowman’s second wife, Nancy Goodwin Bowman, and her family descendants that Bowman furniture, objects, accounts, and correspondence were saved.
In 1965, the house was saved by designer, historic preservationist, and entrepreneur Bill Waters and his partner, Cyrus Pinkham. In 1971, they had the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places and endowed and gave the house to Historic New England with a life tenancy for themselves.
Waters loved tracking down Bowman and other Maine pieces and spent more than fifty years buying, collecting, and restoring the house. Florence Bixby, a descendent of Nancy Bowman, was instrumental in saving the Bowman family documents and objects. Through the years she shared or donated many items to Bill Waters. Thanks to Bixby’s pride in the family’s history and Waters’s goal to restore this lovely eighteenth-century home, a beautiful partnership was formed.
Just as Jonathan Bowman had done, Bill Waters created a beautiful and sophisticated world tucked away in rural Maine.
Bowman House is open to the general public for tours on Thursdays from July 1 to October 14. Tours of the house are on the hour, starting at 11:00 a.m., and are limited to six guests. The last tour is at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance. Get your tickets today.
Visitors should follow Historic New England’s safety guidelines and respect social distancing requirements. Visitors should bring their own face coverings and wear them at all times.