After eight generations of ownership, an expansive Maine estate that belonged to Standard & Poor’s Corp. founder Henry Varnum Poor is ready to find its new owner.
Located along the Ellis River in picturesque Andover, Maine, Merrill House is a 9,600-square-foot estate that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Merrill-Poor House. The 25-acre property is on for $850,000; the historic contents are available for $100,000; and 85 acres of adjacent forest and valley lots, riverfront, tree growth plan, and solar contract are available for $650,000.
Nick Chandler, an eighth-generation descendant of homesteader Ezekiel Merrill, co-owns the property with three siblings. The home has been in the family for 230 years, but Chandler said it’s time to let it go.
“I would keep it if I could, but it’s all of ours, so it’s time to move on and let them have their part,” said Chandler.
Today, the mansion features 14 fireplaces, 16 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, and two full kitchens— a far cry from its early roots. Revolutionary War veteran and homesteader Ezekiel Merrill first built a log cabin filled with bark and moss on the site circa 1790. The following year, his wife, children, and their possessions followed, arriving via seven birch bark canoes up the Androscoggin and Ellis rivers. The family lived off the land, building utensils out of birch bark and bedspreads from spruce trees, while also relying on their relationship with the local Native American population, who taught them everything from identifying edible plants to growing corn.
“They basically helped the Merrills subsist off the land, and helped them with birthing children and medicine and things like that,” Chandler said. “They definitely had a good relationship. They were the first white settlers in the valley, so they were living alongside the Abenaki Native Americans.”
According to the Bethel Historical Society, the Abenaki were frequent visitors to the home, warming up “stretched along the floor, wrapped in blankets, with their heads toward the brick fireplace.”
As the years went on, the Merrill family prospered, and the property was passed down to Merrill’s grandson, Henry Varnum Poor, who rose to fame as the founder of Standard & Poor’s, now known as S&P Global Ratings. It was under his son, Henry William Poor, that the estate was expanded to its current glory in the late 1800s. The gothic great hall, designed by Stanford White, was added, boasting a 12-foot granite fireplace and hearth and 20-foot picture window, as well as the stunning outdoor landscape designed by family friend Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect who created Boston’s Emerald Necklace. A 2,500-square-foot caretaker’s cottage, 6,000-square-foot barn, three sheds, and a 2,000-square-foot workshop were also added to the property, and come as part of the current listing.
The property has been drawing a lot of interest, particularly as people look for homes in rural locations during the pandemic, Chandler said.
“We want to find a buyer that appreciates the history,” Chandler said. “I think the history is phenomenal and really should be preserved, but it’s also got to sustain itself. Hopefully, we’ll find somebody who has the resources and sees the historic value and wants to preserve it.”
John Bartash of Hebert Realty Group has the listing.
See more photos of the property below: