“The Big House is, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of seaside architecture on the East Coast. An act of defiance on its exposed, wind- and spray-swept point, it’s the quintessential weathered New England house paired with an equally hardy lone pine. It’s an icon that captures man’s complex relationship with the land and ocean.”
– Bruce Irving, Long-time Executive Producer of “This Old House”
Perched on a rock-bound promontory overlooking the ocean on the private acreage of Parsons Beach in Kennebunk, The Big House may very well be the most picturesque—and probably the grandest— house on the East Coast: With 14 bedrooms, a recently modernized kitchen, an elegant library overlooking the ocean,Private Mile Long Beachan immense wood-paneled dining room that seats 20, and an Annex with a private entrance and private living quarters to accommodate a family of 8, The Big House provides a luxurious setting. Interior details such as its hand-crafted wood floors (inlay designs) and exquisite carved crown moldings further underscore its grandeur. Because it offers one mile of private beach on either side of its promontory, called Hart’s Rocks, it is unique among coastal dwellings.
The Big House also has a proud but little-known history. Built in its present location in the 1888 by Charles Parsons, the house has remained in the family through several generations. It has also provided summertime shelter and beach recreation to American presidents, business leaders, and celebrities: Cole Porter and Humphrey Parsons, classmates at Yale, vacationed there, staying in what is now the Annex. (Most recently, former President George Bush enjoys fishing near Hart’s Rocks because the Mousam River flows into the ocean there.) Through the decades, children, dogs, sunbathers, joggers, fishermen, pleasure boats skirting the shore, seals sunbathing on rock outcrops, and guests have all brought the summer scene to life for the family.
The Big House and Annex on Parsons Beach are co-located in the center of Parsons Beach, a two mile private beach and perhaps the most dramatic stretch of beautiful sandy beaches in southern Maine. Parsons Beach – a private family enclave – has been in the Parsons family for hundreds of years and remains unspoiled to this day – and yet is only 90 minutes from Boston and 40 minutes from Portland, Maine.
The Big House and Annex also offers tremendous Kayaking or if you are feeling more adventuresome navigate through the waves around the waters of Harts Rock
After a renovation this past year the new family owners are renting for this upcoming season. Rentals are available by referral by friends and family. Together The Big House and Annex have 14 bedrooms – all of which have spectacular ocean views. Ideal for family gatherings, reunions and other intimate occasions.
To get to the Big House and Annex, one travels down Parsons Beach Road which winds through a canopy of hundred year old oak trees next to the Riverhurst Horse Farm. The granduer will remind you of the old southern plantations. A quick turn at the ocean, you will pass through the private gates of the Parsons family compound and on to Crescent Surf Road. Here you will travel another mile along the beach with scattered wild dunes and vibrant saltwater marshes. The road ends at The Big House and Annex which is nestled deep inside a grove of majestic evergreen trees on the Atlantic Ocean and have been the center piece to the entire family estate for many years.
A weathered shingle beauty, the house was built over one hundred years ago yet now has many of the conveniences of modern living. The Big House has been a vacation retreat for the Parsons family and its guests for generations. Captains of industry and presidents alike have visited and enjoyed the pristine landscape and all that it has to offer. In fact , Cole Porter used to visit Humphrey Parsons during summer breaks when they were classmates at Yale with Cole staying in the paneled east wing (now called the Annex).
A beachgoer’s paradise, Parsons Beach offers heaps of light brown sugar sand, warm sun and refreshing ocean breezes, as well as a dramatic stretch of rocks which form nooks of colorful starfish and shells. The dunes and tidal pools offer infinite opportunities for exploration and fun for children and adults alike. Likewise, there is plenty of ocean spin-casting right off the doorsteps of the Big House or fly fishing in the numerous saltwater ponds down the beach which offer the avid fisherman numerous opportunities to catch dinner. Long and warm sunny days will give way to cozy evenings. Gaze at the amazing pallet of stars with your feet propped up as you listen to the surf.
Serious stewards of the land and committed conservationists, the Parsons family has maintained the pristine character of this private beach. You will find wild seals, hundreds of different bird species which fly over from the nearby Rachel Carsons bird sanctuary, and a world centered around the sea. Your neighbors will be members of the Parsons family – some of whom have chosen Parsons Beach as their year-round residence while others live in seasonal houses further down the beach. Across the nearly thousand acres, you will see only a few private homes – which are spaced far apart for complete privacy.
If you choose to venture off the compound, Kennebunkport, with its quaint Dock Square and excellent restaurants and shopping, is just a few miles down the coast. Sit at Arundel Wharf for drinks and watch the lobstermen come in with their daily catch. Drive up Ocean Avenue and get a close-up vista of the Bush family compound at Walker’s Point., or better yet, bike up to Cape Porpoise for a seafood lunch you will not soon forget.