The mission of the Brick Store Museum is to ignite personal connections to local history, art, and culture through exhibitions, education, and programs celebrating the human experience in the Kennebunks and its surrounding communities.
William Lord was born at Kennebunk Landing in 1799, the third son of Tobias Lord and Hephzibah Conant Lord. As a merchant and ship owner, Lord became one of Kennebunk’s most important patriarchs and citizens. In 1820 he married Sarah Cleaves of Biddeford, and they lived in what was then the Jonas Clark house at 20 Summer Street. It sits high on the hill and is now known as the William Lord Mansion, a private residence. It was here that Lord and his wife raised their large family of ten children.
In 1825, William Lord began construction on a dry goods store on Main Street in Kennebunk – the very building that is today the focal point of the Brick Store Museum. Initially known as Lord’s Store, it was unusual for its time by being constructed of locally-kilned brick, a far more expensive alternative than constructing from plentiful Maine timber. Although the brick exterior of the building remains relatively unchanged from the 19th Century, the interior has been altered significantly. Evidence of the building’s past as a store still remains upstairs, however; a windlass (or pulley system) used to hoist heavy goods is visible through a skylight.
At the time of William Lord’s death in 1873, he was considered among the wealthiest men in Kennebunk. Lord’s great-granddaughter, Edith Cleaves Barry, eventually inherited the building and founded the Museum on the second floor in 1936. She quickly overtook three other buildings on the block, and linked these historic structures inside. These buildings date from 1810 to 1860. The initial core of the Museum’s collections came from the Lords and related families, but the Museum today is a regional history, art, and archives center.