Home Buying

Listed: A Maine general store where a president came to hear the gossip

The sale of the building will include a 2,000-square-foot apartment, an antique truck, and parking. Continue reading at realestate.boston.com.

The exterior of the store as seen from across the street.
The store has been in business since 1865. Courtesy of H.B. Provisions

From the deck off Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen’s bedroom, there are picturesque views of the Kennebunk River tidal basin and, farther away, the intricate spire of South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport. Created in 2012, the bedroom occupies the former attic of a two-story frame house in the center of Lower Village in Kennebunk, Maine. On the level below are two more bedrooms and a vast living room that is open to a kitchen equipped with top-of-the-line appliances and granite countertops. The home is elegant, comfortable, private, and very quiet. You would never know that the floor below is a hive of activity from 6 a.m. until 8 every evening.

Baked goods and books about golf and tidal pools line a table in the foreground as a customer and an employee talk amid the shelves in the background.
. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions

The ground floor houses H.B. Provisions, a general store with a café and bakery, deli, liquor, and grocery departments that, due to its history and location, acts as the center-of-town meeting place. As the late president George H.W. Bush, a local summer resident, often remarked, H.B. Provisions is “where everyone comes to meet and greet.’’ The former president and first lady attended Bonnie and Helen’s wedding in 2013.


“He used to love to pop in, especially after church, and grab a doughnut and have a cup of coffee,’’ Thorgalsen told the Globe by phone from the store after the president’s death in 2018. “That was one of his things that he did; stop in and find out what the gossip was.’’

President George H.W. Bush, his wife, Barbara, and friends Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen.
On Sept. 21, 2013, former president George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, attended the wedding of longtime friends Helen Thorgalsen (center) and Bonnie Clement in Kennebunkport, Maine. – Associated Press/File

Helen and Bonnie bought the building in 2002, when the store was called Meserve’s Market. Built in 1865, the building has functioned as a store with an apartment above it for all of those years.

The couple moved into the upstairs apartment and launched a total renovation of the market, which included painting the exterior a sunny shade of yellow accented with green.

“We wanted to create a place that feels more like a country store than the local convenience store,’’ Bonnie said. “We spent three months traveling and looking at country stores to learn what made them special and successful.’’

“We gutted the store and put in new floors, new wooden shelving, and we redesigned the layout,’’ Helen said. “We put in a large deli. One-third of the store is devoted to beer, wine, and spirits, which are a big part of our business. We changed the name to H.B. Provisions (from our first initials, Helen and Bonnie.) We opened the store in May of 2002, and have been open every day since.’’


In 2012, they tackled the apartment. By converting the attic into a bedroom suite, they expanded the 900-square-foot home into a spacious 2,200-square-foot apartment on two levels, with a grand staircase connecting them.

“We had to bring it up to code when we redid the apartment,’’ Bonnie said. “So now we have a sprinkler system on all three levels of the building.’’

A kitchen with granite countertops, open shelving, back lighting, stainless steel appliances, and two peninsulas.
. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions
A double bed in a gray room with dark gray curtains and hardwood flooring.
. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions
A view from a top wood stairs with white balusters and a tan patterned rug. Photos line the wall in a gallery.
The new staircase in the apartment. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions

In the apartment, they installed new wiring, plumbing, and heating and air-conditioning systems, and created atmosphere with two gas-powered fireplaces. In addition to the deck high on the top floor, the second story houses two more decks. One overlooks Lower Village, while the other is an enclosed, private space for relaxing and sunbathing.

“We work a lot but also get to live very comfortably,’’ Helen said.

A view of the water from the deck on an overcast day.
. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions
Looking down over a deck lined with potted flowers.
. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions

After 20 years of working long days, seven days a week, Helen and Bonnie have put the building at 15 Western Ave. on the market. John Anderson of Investcomm Commercial Group in Kennebunkport has listed it for $3,800,000.

“This is an unusual property because it has served as the center of the community for so long,’’ Anderson said. “While new owners can continue the tradition of living above the store, the apartment could be rented or even sold separately. There are no restrictions on its use.’’


Included in the sale are the store, the apartment, two parking lots, and a 1952 Ford three-speed pickup.

“It has its original green paint and runs great,’’ Bonnie said. “We use it for deliveries, for beach runs, or to simply drive around town at the end of the day.’’

A antique green truck with a bed with wooden walls. H.B. Provisions is etched into the wood.
. – Courtesy of H.B. Provisions

She said the truck is like the store: charmingly retro with contemporary function.

“I like to say that this is an old-fashioned country store with modern technology.’’


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