This Crooked Old House Brings Back Incredible Childhood Memories For Maine Locals

In the heart of Raymond, Maine stands a structure that, despite being in a state of disrepair, continues to stir the memories and affections of local residents. 

Known as “The House That Jack Built,” this distinctive building, with its whimsical architecture and vibrant yellow front, remains an enduring symbol of a bygone era. 

Credit: Jane Ingersoll-Mahoney

Through the combined efforts of a visionary family and the cherished tales that surround it, the house has cemented its place in Maine’s history, especially for those who were around when this place was a functioning local small business.

A Family’s Dream Materialized

The origin of “The House That Jack Built” is as enchanting as its appearance. 

Seemingly inspired by a children’s book that bore the same name, the house was built by the Foster family. 

Don and Lucy Foster, guided by the imaginative world of their daughter’s coloring book, embarked on a journey to bring this fantasy to life. 

Donald Foster, alongside his father, Will Foster, laid the foundation of what would become a beloved summer retreat. 

Lucy, a former teacher renowned for her rigorous yet rewarding educational approach, helped managed the establishment with a blend of warmth and efficiency.

Initially conceived as a gift shop, the house rapidly expanded its offerings to include a dining room and soda fountain, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike. 

It showcased an array of local products, including items reflective of Maine’s rich indigenous heritage, such as Quoddy Moccasins, a testament to the craftsmanship of the Passamaquoddy people.

A Quirky Architectural Marvel

Credit: Alice Bradeen

The architecture of “The House That Jack Built” is as unique as its history. 

Unlike the unintended asymmetry that time bestows upon old structures, the crooked walls and peculiar angles of the house were deliberate, a physical manifestation of the whimsy that inspired its creation. 

Positioned in a prime location on Main Street, its eye-catching design and colorful exterior have made it an unforgettable landmark in Raymond. 

In an era when small village centers thrived as all-inclusive communities, the house stood as a beacon of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

A Gathering Place for Generations

Beyond its architectural quirks, “The House That Jack Built” was known for its culinary offerings, particularly its fried clams and ice cream. 

It evolved into a cherished eatery and gift shop, where souvenirs like pine pillows and moccasins connected visitors to the local culture and landscape. 

The expansion to include a tea room and larger gift shop further cemented its status as a community hub. 

It wasn’t just a place to shop or dine; it was where memories were made, where local children and their parents could enjoy a treat and mingle with others from town.

And not only that, but this place was known to offer local kids a fun summer job.

A Final Note

Today, “The House That Jack Built” may stand in stark contrast to its former glory, yet its significance endures. 

It is a testament to the creative vision of the Foster family, a reminder of Maine’s vibrant community life, and a symbol of the enduring appeal of small-town America. 

Let’s hope that though this magical little house seems to be hanging on for dear life, that it will remain standing well into the future and be a reminder of times gone by to those who once made good memories here.