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'The Maine House': A tribute to and record of classic Maine homes

Photographer Maura McEvoy set out to capture classic Maine homes in her first book; homes she fears are disappearing as people tear down the old to build bigger.

WELLS, Maine — Maura McEvoy has been capturing the world from behind a lens for decades. Her photographs have been featured in catalogs like Pottery Barn, magazines like National Geographic Traveler and InStyle, several interior design books, and cookbooks.

But it's her latest project and her first book that she's been working toward her whole life. 

"This furniture is still my grandmother's. This dining room will never be painted any other color," Maura said with her hand clutching the pale blue dining chair squeezed inside the small dining room of her father's Wells Beach cottage. Maura grew up spending every summer of her youth in the cottage that was built in 1911. It has housed five generations of her family and other than updated plumbing, it has, for the most part, remained the same. 

Her fond memories of the cottage where she grew up were the foundation on which she built her first book, "The Maine House." At first glance, one might think it's about interior design or New England style, but they would be wrong. 

"I've been thinking a lot about how upset I was that all of these houses were disappearing," Maura explained. Just a stone throws from the wood-paneled walls and linoleum floored cottage where she sits, three-story McMansions are being built replacing the campy, cedar-shingled cottages that once were. 

"It wasn't just about pretty spaces that happened to be in Maine. We wanted to tell more of a story than that and take more of a stand," Maura said.

She enlisted the help of stylist Basha Burwell and writer Katheleen Hacket to photograph classic Maine homes, tucked inland or on the coast, with one rule: all the houses had to be designed and decorated by the people, usually generations of people, that lived in them and still live in them.

In 2017, Maura and Basha began the search for their "Maine Houses." Maura said people would often let them in but ask them not to share the location of the home. Many homeowners were private but generous, giving Maura a place to stay or a quick meal before her work of capturing an intimate glimpse into how people live, was done.  

The pages are filled with beautiful homes from all over the state, paired with equally beautiful stories of the people who live in them. From a converted church, cannery, and warehouse to an artist's home, the aesthetics of each house are very different but there is a common thread.  

"I can't even call it decorating. It's more just filling up rooms from your heart," McEvoy said.

The book is for anyone who cares about homes that have history, she says. It's a message that is resonating with readers. The book, which you can purchase here, came out in June. 

The book's message of frugality, of thoughtful building and renovation with materials that make sense, and treasuring the small and simple things in life is what Maura set out to do. But the book is also a love letter to her childhood, bundled six children deep in a small cottage on the Maine coast. And to her family, those passed and those still living, for creating "the special place" within those small cottage walls. 

Maura McEvoy has no relation to NEWS CENTER Maine's Beth McEvoy.