Springhurst Estate ~ 83 Portland Avenue
"Springhurst," as it was originally known, was built in 1896 on Portland Avenue by John C. Miles, Esq. on a large tract of undeveloped land previously owned by William H. Boardman of Lawrence, Massachusetts and James C. Jordan of the neighboring town of Saco.
A summer resident who spent his winters at his primary residence in Los Gatos, California, Miles was considered one of Old Orchard's best-known and most progressive citizens. He developed the 22-acre Springhurst estate and its gardens to furnish pure spring water and vegetables to summer cottagers and many of the area's restaurants and grand hotels of the era. His endeavors were described in some detail in the 1900 edition of a local publication, the Old Orchard Mirror, Souvenir Edition. (See below to read the original full transcript.)
Today, the landscape surrounding Springhurst is dramatically different from what Miles and his contemporaries would have encountered in 1900. Small saplings are now 100-year-old oak trees, streets and homes dot the land where summer vegetables once grew, and a shopping plaza stands in place of woods and fields. Still, the exterior of the estate’s Victorian farmhouse remains remarkably unchanged, as evidenced from these photos, circa 1900. (Source: Old Orchard Mirror Souvenir Edition, 1900.)
What remains today of the original 22-acre estate is a half-acre lot on which the house stands, bordered by Lewis Avenue (named for an area family which owned the home from about 1938) and John C. Miles' namesake street, Miles Avenue. It is believed the Victorian style building to the northeast of the property, on the corner of Portland and Lewis Avenues, was once the estate's barn. Eventually the structure was converted to housing and a decorative cupola was added.
Miles was born 1851 in Quebec, eventually immigrating to the United States. His first wife, Mary Kate, was a native Mainer born in 1850. She passed sometime after 1912. Miles’ second marriage was to wife Martha, who was born in Massachusetts in 1874 and outlived his death in 1919.
The property changed hands numerous times over the past century, most recently in 1990. In the quarter century since, Springhurst has been thoughtfully tended and today remains a private residence in the care of the same owner.
Summering in Maine: John C. Miles
Springhurst circa 1900. Image taken near the intersection of Walnut and Portland Avenues. Hotels and other buildings can be seen in the distance, near the Pier and beach.
Image taken from directly behind the local Post Office.
Heading West for the Winter: Miles in California
(Above) When not in Old Orchard, Miles was part of "The Solid Six" of Los Gatos, California, 1989. John C. Miles sits front row, far left.
(Above) Built by John C. Miles in 1892, this stately Queen Anne style home, located at 130 Edelen Avenue in Los Gatos, California, was the family's winter residence.