People Who Called Scarborough Home
By Charlene Fenlason
Lewis Litchfield, station agent for the Boston & Maine Railroad in the early 1900s, was born in 1871. He was a station agent first at Pine Point and later at Oak Hill. Because he felt it was his duty to care for his invalid mother, it wasn’t until he was sixty-one that he married Stella Langford of Rochester, New Hampshire.
As a hobby, Litchfield made high-quality bamboo fishing rods and violins. People said to have had a Litchfield fishing rod were Henry Ford, William R. Hearst and the Duchess of Windsor. A news story in the September 1, 1938 Christian Science Monitor reported that two of Litchfield’s violins were taken to the North Pole by Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillan, a school friend of his. In 1897, he played one of his violins, made from parts of an old schoolhouse that had been on Ross Road, at the high school graduation in the Town Hall. He continued to play at the high school for over fifty years, accompanied by pianist Addie Kaler Vaill. Winslow Homer made a sketch of the violin and gave it to Mrs. Vaill who was offered a substantial sum for it. The same violin received second prize at a contest in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was later exhibited on television. In 2007 the Scarborough Historical Society acquired one of Litchfield’s violins and had it restored to playing condition. Dr. Robert Lehman, director of the strings program at the University of Southern Maine, has since performed two concerts with the violin. Quoted in an article in the Kennebec Journal Dr. Lehman said, “Ninety-nine percent of the violins made in America at the turn of the century were European. The fact that this man was able to make a classical violin without formal training and using regular carpenter’s tools is astonishing.”
Litchfield retired as a station agent at Candia, New Hampshire in 1941 and received a golden pass for his fifty years of service. Summers were spent living alone and winters with relatives in New Hampshire. In 1961, Litchfield celebrated his 90th birthday at his niece’s home in Blue Point. He died in 1963 at the age of 92 and is buried in Freeport.
Scarborough Historical Society and Museum File: Lewis Litchfield