FAMILY & FREEPORT
The Freeport Antiques & Heirlooms Showcase was initiated in May 2018 after I purchased and restored the site because it was empty for years and was formerly a beautiful home next to that of my grandfather, Leon L. Bean. His family grew up there, including my father Charles Warren Bean who, before graduating from Bowdoin in 1923, photographed this building, along with the family home and business. My father had a flair for music and design, and he became a lead canvas and leather designer for L.L.Bean, Inc. specializing in luggage and carry bag products to enjoy the outdoors and on the water. In fact in 1946 he designed our second most famous product ever: the now world famous “Bean Boat & Tote” bag. Our number one remains my grandfather’s design: the L.L.Bean Hunting Shoe, now simply called “Bean Boots.”
Upstairs in the Antiques Showcase I am exhibiting early L.L.Bean catalogs and many prototype discoveries from my father’s attic — canvas and leather bags and specialties he designed between 1925-50. Customers are encouraged to visit the display while shopping both floors for period treasures, fine art and decorative home furnishings discovered in attics and china cabinets. Out-of-print books and histories, rare collectible comics, hand crafted silver pieces, period fine art and design, and showcases of jewels are found downstairs, as well as a double booth devoted entirely to original paintings and limited edition prints from three generations of Wyeth family artists: N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth. Hand made quilts are a passion throughout the building. We now have over 40 energetic dealers bringing in fresh high-end items every day, which means you haven’t seen everything yet. Your quest to locate perfect gifts of lasting value is right here!
Charles Warren “Warnie” Bean was born 1901 and moved to this corner neighborhood in 1911, a year before his father incorporated L.L.Bean, Inc. a short walk up Main Street. Warnie served as a Bean board member for decades with his father, his brother L. Carl Bean, and his brother-in-law John T. “Jack” Gorman, as well as being elected Clerk of the corporation for some 50 years until he died in 1971 at nearly 70. In turn, I have served on the Bean board about 50 years, joined now by my grown sons, my cousins, and the children of my cousins. The company celebrated 100 years in 2012 and L.L.Bean, Inc. is still, proudly, family-owned.
Most people think of retiring at about age 65. This is not true in our family. Maybe it’s the good Maine air. My grandfather was just beginning to get up steam when he turned 40 and he kept running his business from the top until he died at age 94. My cousin Leon Gorman then ran it for 48 years until he passed in 2015 at age 80. As for myself, it wasn’t until I was 66 that I expanded my business interests beyond L.L.Bean, Inc. by starting up several diversified Maine businesses at locations of interest to visitors to Maine. Whether in lobster procurement, vacation lodging, restaurants, or art and antiques galleries, I have landed square in the middle of the Maine hospitality industry. Welcome to my world!
A HISTORIC BUILDING
Our Greek Revival period building was constructed in 1829 and known historically as The Belcher House. The once beautiful interior winding staircase was lost when the building came up against Freeport’s retail store expansion and was prepared for commercial use by shopping mall entrepreneur Al Glickman of Portland to showcase Mikasa ceramics and subsequently Reebok shoes. The building’s brick chimneys and folding wood interior shutters still lend original charm to the nearly 200 year old home. From the clerestory windows over the roof it is said the Belcher family might have seen all the way to the ocean at South Freeport, from which generations of mariners sailed around the world.
THE ANTIQUES SHOWCASE
The first floor of over 4,000 square feet is chocker block full of antiques displayed by over 40 top notch dealers and retired auctioneer Jim Julia. Small rarities are located in 36 glass showcases. The room’s perimeter is lined with curated spaces of furniture and hand crafted period accessories and vintage decorator pieces. The sizable book nook features a curated collection of hard-to-find hardcovers, early edition oversized books, a rare comic books rack and an easy chair to peruse your discoveries. Many booths and the mezzanine floor feature Americana. Certain dealers specialize in antiques and architectural forms from around the world, nautical salvage, country furniture, yellow ware pottery, red ware pottery, stoneware jugs, painted boxes and sea chests, and the lore of Maine’s historic community life.
To sum it up, the Freeport Antiques & Heirlooms Showcase is curated and led by an enthusiastic team with hundreds of collective years of experience with antiques.