By Becky Delaware
Continuing our series about the villages of Scarborough. . .The Oak Hill area has undergone many changes over the years. Readers are invited to contribute information the writer may have overlooked.
Many think of Oak Hill as the town center of Scarborough, but in the 1600s and 1700s, the area was considered an unsettled wilderness. A church was erected here in 1798, but in 1844 it was replaced by one at Black Point. The movement of the town center to Oak Hill began when the town hall (1883-1990s) was built on Route One and later the new town hall behind where the first one was located. But first, let’s begin reviewing the area starting at the corner of Route One and Sawyer Road where the Maine Medical Center (MMC) offices are today. These buildings comprised a shopping center featuring a Mammoth Mart (1960s), Sampson’s Supermarket (into the 1970s or 1980s), Canal Bank (into the 1970s), a hair salon (also into the 1970s-1983) and Grossman’s Lumber (later moved to Southgate Road). There was also a Norge Village laundromat (1970s-1980s), possibly operated by Ken Dolloff. Martin’s Grocery Store was also there for a time. After this area ceased being a shopping center, other businesses located there. One was Shape, Inc. Can anyone name others? The small building in front was Carroll’s Fast Food (1970s); it has been vacant much of the time since but is now Nordx Lab.
On the other corner of Route One and Sawyer Road, where the car wash, restaurant and Memorial Park are, was the Portland Twin Drive-in (1949-2003). The drive-in’s screens were set so that one screen faced Route One and showed G/GP-rated movies; the second screen faced the houses behind it. This screen featured R/X-rated movies. Locally, these houses were often referred to as “Sin City,” because the movies were flashed through their windows. Religious services were held at the drive-in during the summer. Where the current Public Safety Building is located was Plowman’s farm, which featured advertising for the drive-in on its barn roof. I tried to find a picture of it, but no luck. Later, three small houses were built here. There were open sheds behind them for a while.
I mentioned the town halls earlier. The first town hall was located in what is now the parking lot of the current town hall. The Town and Country Credit Union replaced the large Wight house that housed the first telephone switchboard in 1900. Many young women served as the operators. I’ve read that when a special event occurred, all the lines were open so Scarborough residents could hear it.
Next, where the caregivers’ place is, was the first Quick Brown Fox (later Brown Fox) which was a printing business owned by the Lambs. The building has housed several businesses since then. The Brown Fox and post office were where Libby’s Toy Shop (into the 1970s and run by “Peachie” Libby) once sat. What a wonderful little shop it was! It was the parsonage for the early Oak Hill church before the toy shop. This latter building is now located on Pine Point Road on private property. A Cumberland Farms store was next where El Rayo is now located. Today there are dentists’ and lawyers’ offices located in what was the new post office in the 1960s. The Bennett house, with unique murals painted on the walls, was located along here also, but has been moved to Longfellow Road in Gorham.