By Becky Delaware
Oak Hill, Part IV
In the early 1900s, all the land from the corner of Black Point Road and Route One (current location of Amato’s) to the Bessey School apartments and extending back to the Old Eastern walking path on Black Point Road was once a part of the Harrison J. Libby estate. This corner of Black Point Road and Route One has been a very prominent corner. Jensen’s Chevron Station, later Canal Bank, then Key Bank and for a short while Casco Bank have all been located at this spot. Hillson’s Cash Market, a mom-and-pop store, was next door from at least the 1970s.
Across Fairfield Street was Bette’s Lunch. Run by Bette Pennell until 2002, Bette’s was an institution at Oak Hill. From the 1960s on, students at Scarborough High School frequented Bette’s. She would open at odd hours to feed firefighters who had been out on extensive firefighting efforts. Next to Bette’s most recently was the public safety building. Originally, Oak Hill Garage was at this location and then the Oak Hill Fire Station [Engine 5]. Rescue shared space with the fire trucks and then later the police and dispatch center moved in. Since the fire, rescue, police, and dispatch center have relocated to the new public safety building, this building is now a residential and commercial center. On the other side of the former public safety building is Westwood Avenue.
Next along Route One are six houses that are now homes to small businesses. The fourth and fifth houses are what I call the “twin” houses. Their architecture is similar, except for a slight roof-line difference. The third house is a “close cousin” to these. This area was developed in the late 1920s after the break-up of the Libby Estate. The “Libby ladies,” who lived on the estate, had offered to gift the town part of the estate as a site for a new Scarborough High School. However, the town declined the offer, because the ladies insisted that the new school should be named Libby High School.
Across Ward Street, until recently, was the Knights of Pythias Hall. The Knights of Pythias was a fraternal organization that supported community efforts. (A ceremonial suit from the Knights of Pythias is on display at the Museum.) Women had their own organization, the Pythian Sisters, which recently disbanded for lack of membership. The next two large buildings replaced a small antique store (later a craft store) operated by Judy Roy in the 1980s or 1990s and a small rental house owned by Calvin Austin.
The former Bessey School, originally built in 1927 as Scarborough High School, became the junior high when the current high school opened in 1954. When a new junior high was built In the 1960s, the building became the Bessey School and housed elementary grades. When no longer used as a school, the building was used for offices and meeting rooms. Ruth’s Reusable Recyclables occupied the basement. Eventually sold into the commercial sector, the building was expanded and repurposed into what is now Bessey Commons.
Further along Route One is the Maine Veterans Home. The next area is all commercial buildings grouped together into a business park setting. This area, as well as the development including Commerce Drive, was formerly the farm where “Mike” and Ken Libby grew up. Right on the boundary of the Maine Veterans Home was a small house where Ken and Maudie Libby lived and across Commerce Drive at the far end of the business park was where the original farm was located until it burned in 1986. Mike, Ruth, and Mother Maud had lived here.