Barnard’s Tavern

Built in the late 1700s, Barnard’s Tavern has received some quirky additions over the years.

One of Kennebunk’s oldest buildings was built for one of its first “post riders,” Joseph Barnard, who carried mail by horse (and later by coach) as far south as Boston. Perhaps desiring a less strenuous career in his later years, Barnard went on to open a tavern with his wife in their circa 1780 Colonial on Route 1, which proved to be a popular stop for travelers on their way to Portland. The building functioned as a guesthouse on and off for the next 200 years until it fell into disrepair after a 1975 fire. Its salvation came in the form of William Johnson, an avid collector of historic artifacts, who rescued the building from demolition. Like many old houses, this one received some quirky additions over the years — a barn clock tower from the former Wells Town Hall, for example, and an early 20th-century windmill from a nearby farm that stands on the front lawn. But these only add to the charm of a grand old home that still captures the imaginations of passersby.

Portland-based writer Julie Senk holds degrees in history and historic preservation and provides property surveys and architectural analyses to homeowners and businesses. To learn more about her work, visit

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