You don’t have to be Catholic, Lithuanian or particularly religious to enjoy a visit to the magnificent grounds of St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery and Guest House. It’s located in Kennebunk, ME on more than 46 acres of land. The beautiful and lush landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of New York’s Central Park, The Boston Common and many other urban parks.
What may seem a little strange at first is that the monastery building looks very much like a Tudor style mansion. That’s because it was exactly that years ago. Originally commissioned by William A. Rogers an industrialist from Buffalo, New York who purchased the property in 1900 from the family estate of John Mitchell, a Christian religion professor. Mitchell purchased the land from Lt. General Sir William Pepperrell who took the land from the Indians way back in the late 1600’s.
In 1937, the mansion was sold to Mildred V. and William N. Campbell. Mildred was the daughter of Sanford textile tycoon, Louis B. Goodall. William N. ran the Goodall Mills until 1944. Three years later on September 8th, 1947 William died. That same day, Mildred sold the estate to The Lithuanian Society of Franciscan Fathers of Greene, Maine. The price was a mere $150,000.
Over the years additions were made both inside and outside on the grounds. According to the brochure the Shrine of St. Anthony was added inside the building in 1952. In 1953, the outdoor Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto was constructed. It was designed by Lithuanian Architect Jonas Mulokas, a first prize winner of the American Architect Association.
In 1959, a second shrine by Mulokos, the impressive Chapel of the Stations of the Cross was built.
Within the Chapel of the Stations of the Cross are the individual stations. The individual stations were sculptured by Vytautas Kasuba. Kasuba was awarded the Gold Medal for Art at the 1937 World’s Fair. Some of the stations are shown below.
St. Anthony’s Chapel, inside the monastery (mansion), was finished in 1965-66, a combination of old and new world. The architect was Dr. Alfred Kulpa of Toronto, Canada.
The stained-glass windows, chandeliers, candlesticks and other interior decorations were designed and produced by Lithuanian born artist Vytautas K. Jonyas. Jonyas is also represented outside on the grounds with a magnificent sculpture pictured below. It originally was designed and created for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. A sign next to the artwork reads “it depicts the church militant, the church suffering and the church triumphant, that is, the church here on earth, in purgatory and heaven. In 1967, the Franciscan’s in Kennebunk, ME dedicated this historical work of art to the silent church in Lithuania.”
Strictly for boys of Lithuanian decent, St. Anthony’s High School which closed in 1970, had a student body consisting of Lithuanian boys from all over the country and Canada. They lived at the school as well as studied and performed all other forms of high school activities such as sports. All under the watchful eyes of the Franciscan Fathers.
The Franciscan Guest House I mentioned early on is also on the grounds. While it is a separate entity from the monastery, they both share an awareness or an appreciation for Lithuania. The main building, there are various smaller buildings that also have guest rooms, was originally the boys’ high school. From the outside, it looks like a school. Inside, it has all been reconfigured with individual rooms and baths.
Today, the former high school, now a guest house consisting of 65 rooms is a pleasant place to stay while visiting the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport area of Maine.
Below are a few more photographs.
Stained-glass window inside the side chapel.
Saint Francis Fountain
Out Lady of Fatima