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Forest Lodge (Upton, Maine) facts for kids

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Forest Lodge
Forest Lodge, Summer House.jpg
Location Carry Rd., about 1.9 mi. W. of Middle Dam, Upton, Maine
Area 1.8 acres (0.73 ha)
Built 1942 (1942)
Architectural style Late Victorian, camp
NRHP reference No. 08001257
Added to NRHP December 30, 2008

Forest Lodge is a historic homestead in rural northern Oxford County, Maine. Located in a hard-to-reach corner of Upton on the northern bank of the Rapid River, it consists of a complex of seven buildings, four of which are residential. The complex was owned and occupied by the family of writer Louise Dickinson Rich (1903–91) on a year-round basis between 1933 and 1944, and as Rich's summer residence until 1955. The property, as well as the surrounding country and its small number of year-round residents and seasonal visitors, were a recurring theme in her writings, which spanned forty years. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Description and history

Forest Lodge occupies a roughly triangular parcel of land 1.8 acres (0.73 ha) in size, on the north bank of the Rapid River. Although within the municipal bounds of Upton, it is isolated from the rest of the town, requiring a lengthy drive through one of the adjacent counties to reach the Carry Road, which passes through the property. The main complex of buildings is located on a loop road south of Carry Road, which runs closer to the river.

The complex includes a variety of buildings built at different times. The oldest buildings, which are of uncertain construction date, include the Winter House, the Summer House, and the Guide House, all of which were extant in 1933 when Ralph Rich moved into the property. That summer he met Louise Dickinson and her sister, who were canoeing on the river and stopped at the camp during the lengthy portage between Lower Richardson Lake and Lake Umbagog. Louise moved in the following year, and the couple adapted the seasonal camp for year-round living, producing two children before Ralph's death in 1944. Louise took up writing to supplement the family income, publisher her best-known work, We Took To The Woods, in 1942. This work is an autobiographical account of living and working in the Maine woods, and has become an iconic work of regional writing. After her husband's death, Louise Rich wintered on the Maine coast, but returned to Forest Lodge in the summers. In 1955 she sold the property to a relative of one of her long-time local workers, and the property has remained in sympathetic hands since then. A portion of the property is (as of 2014) for sale, with the idea to turn the rest into a memorial to Rich.

The Winter House is a single-story rectangular wooden structure, about 20 by 25 feet (6.1 m × 7.6 m), finished in clapboards. Its main facade faces east, and is sheltered by a hip-roofed porch supported by log posts. The interior is divided into two sections, the southern having two bedrooms, and the northern a large living space. The northern space has pine flooring, wainscoting, and a brick fireplace.

The Summer House, the largest building in the complex, is nearly twice the size of the Winter House. Its main block, almost as large as the Winter House, rests on a concrete foundation which is exposed due to the sloping terrain, while a slightly smaller ell is attached to the west. A porch extends across the full length of the southern elevation. This building still houses some of Rich's furniture and working materials, including a typewriter and a rolltop desk.

The Guide's House is a small wood frame structure measuring 20 by 16 feet (6.1 m × 4.9 m) with a side gable asphalt roof. It is divided into two sleeping chambers, and has no modern amenities (plumbing or electricity), and was used by the Riches as housing for seasonal workers on the property.

Of the other buildings on the property, two woodsheds and a workshop were built by the Riches. The other structures, including the Guest House and Fly Shop, are additions by later owners.

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