THE BETHEL JOURNALS—BETHEL MAINE HISTORY –  THE BETHEL HOUSE

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The Bethel Journals, PO Box 763, Bethel, Maine 04217    To contact the Bethel Journals

1850s buildings on the future 1980 Main Street Bethel House site

Text Box: Main Street

Future Elm Street

Approximate area occupied by

Bethel House

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MAP KEY:

1. House and shop of “Daguerian Artist” J. E. Stevens.

2. Sylvester Robinson’s house

3. Sylvester Robinson’s cabinet making shop

Brief History of the buildings which had occupied the Bethel House Site

 

Excerpts from Rosalind Rowe Chapman’s 1997 “Bethel’s Main Street Through History”

 

Referring to the chart at right, Building #1 was occupied first by the pioneer photographer, J.E. Stevens followed by Charles Johnson, Bethel postmaster.  Anna Marie Robertson (1843-1944), daughter of Sylvester Robertson, bought house from the Johnson heirs. Frank and Mabel Robertson lived in this house for many years. It was torn down in 1959 by Max Zallen to make space for a Thunderbird Motel parking lot. For decades the house was known as the Robertson House.

Building #2 was owned in the 1850s by Sylvester Robertson (1815-1905) an early Bethel cabinet maker. His shop is shown on the chart as Building # 3.  The Robertson house was one of Bethel’s earliest houses. After Sylvester’s death in 1905,, his daughter Anne Maria sold the house to Lettie Thayer but not the shop. In 1906 the shop was moved from the site. Lettie Thayer (1856-1939) sold the house to Nellie Sturtevant who sold to Angelia Mason Clark (1838-1930) in 1911. Irving Clark (1866-1952), Angelia’s son, lived in the house which became known as the Clark house for many years.  Irving, Ruby Clark and others sold the house to Percy Robertson in 1938. The house and lot, which included the area formerly the shop site, was sold to Max Zallen in 1940. Zallen built Bethel Theater on land that was previously occupied by the Robertson shop.

The “Clark” house (Building #2) which now belonged to Zallen was home to Louis and Florice Paul; Louis Paul was the theater’s projectionist.  Frederick Grover (1913-1971) managed the theater.  The Norman Hall family and Fitzmaurice Vail also lived the former Clark house as tenants.

In 1959 Zallen closed the theater and converted the building to the Thunderbird Motor Inn. The “Clark” house was moved to the rear of the theater building and became part of the motel’s operation. In 1966 Gould Academy purchased the motel in order to gain extra dormitory space. From 1977 until 1980 the building was not used.

In the 1978-79 winters, Bethel’s Christmas tree lighting celebration was held in the motel parking lot area with David Myers volunteering his time to arrange the lighting.

The Clark/Zallen house was moved down along Elm Street where it is Gould Academy faculty housing but in Bethel’s tax records it is identified as Gould Academy (Zallen), 47 Elm Street.

 

 

Thunderbird Inn converted from theater to motel. Note the Clark/Zallen house at rear of the motel

Bethel Theater (1940-1959) standing on lot originally used for cabinetmaker’s shop of Sylvester Robertson.

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Sources:  Town of Bethel 1980 Annual Report; The Bethel Courier Fall 1997 of Bethel Historical Society.  Photos: Bethel Historical Society collections and Google Earth Street View of Bethel House.