An early American country mansion in Andover built by a Revolutionary War veteran whose family has owned it for 228 years is up for sale. Its asking price is $1.2 million.
Merrill House, which dates to 1791, has been home to the founder of Standard & Poor’s financial services company and recently, the site for weddings and a movie. But the eighth generation of owners don’t use it anymore and are ready to sell.
“My siblings are spread around the country, so we don’t get the use of it. It’s time to move on,” said Nick Chandler, who has been managing the property for more than 20 years. He owns the 16-bedroom property with his two brothers and one sister.
His siblings were married at the home, but as they moved away Chandler began managing and renting it for weddings, reunions, events and even a movie. He has his own software development company in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Scenes from the 1997 movie “The Myth of Fingerprints” were filmed throughout the estate.
“Actress Julianne Moore met her husband, Bart Freundlich, while making the movie,” Chandler said.
A high-end rental, perhaps
Merrill House is about half an hour northeast of Sunday River Ski Resort in Andover, an Oxford County town with 821 residents. It is in the Androscoggin River Valley.
The main house sleeps 32 people. It has 16 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms and 2 kitchens.
“There are a lot of unexploited revenue opportunities,” he said.
He suggested that the barns could be used for business and the caretaker’s house for private rentals. A community solar farm could be installed on the large property as a revenue source.
“There’s been no upstream industry ever, so the soil is as organic as soil gets,” he said. “Someone also could start an organic farm.”
Other potential uses are as a ski lodge, corporate retreat, and hunting and fishing lodge.
“And the profound value of the history of the property shouldn’t be lost,” he said.
The 110-acre property also has a caretaker’s house and several barns. It has forest and fields, and views of the Ellis River Valley and Mahoosuc mountains. There is a spring-fed pond and beach, and 5 acres of lawns and gardens.
Chandler remembers skiing, hiking and golfing there.
“I’m a mad fisherman,” he said. “I fished for wild brook trout and salmon.”
Life in the wilderness
The first generation of Chandler’s family to stake a claim on the property was Ezekiel Merrill, a Revolutionary War veteran who settled in Andover in 1789, according to the Andover Historical Society.
“He took advantage of the homesteading offered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in remote parts, when Maine was still part of Massachusetts,” Chandler said. “He carved out a life in the wilderness.”
He said Merrill jointly bought land with seven other veterans. In April of 1788 he moved his wife and seven children to Maine. The family first got to Fryeburg, where the road ended.
Merrill built a team of 16 hand sleds drawn by men to move 30 miles to Bethel.
Merrill’s family waited in Bethel for 14 months until he cut his way through the forest and built a log cabin on the site of their future home.
Henry Varnum Poor, Merrill’s grandson, bought the house in in 1877. Poor, who graduated from Bowdoin College, founded Standard & Poor’s financial services company, which exists today.
He also was editor of the “American Railroad Journal” in the mid-1800s and published a history of the U.S. railroads in 1848.
The Merrill House, which is located at 45 East Andover Road, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is for sale by The Bean Group.