Campus News

Local Residents to Buy Breckinridge Estate

Story posted August 17, 2004

Bowdoin College has entered into an agreement for the sale of the Breckinridge Public Affairs Center in York, also known as River House, to two local residents who intend to preserve the property as a single-family, private residence.

Mark Toney and Daniel Hartigan of Cape Neddick entered into a purchase agreement with the College on August 16, 2004. While terms of the sale were not released and will remain confidential, it is expected that the closing on the property will occur this fall.

"Mr. Toney and Mr. Hartigan are precisely the types of buyers we were hoping for when we made the difficult decision to sell the Breckinridge Center," said Bowdoin College President Barry Mills. "Anyone who has spent time at River House appreciates the historic, social and environmental significance of the property, particularly given the estate's extraordinary family history, and its presence on the York River. We are delighted to have found buyers who share our appreciation for this wonderful property, and have a sincere interest in preserving it."

Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson's donation of the 23-acre, 25-room estate to Bowdoin in 1974 established the Breckinridge Public Affairs Center. For the next 30 years, the College used the facility for classes, seminars, and meetings of educational, cultural and civic groups. Bowdoin allowed business and professional organizations to use the facility for planning sessions and staff development activities.

In addition, the College allowed the Town of York to use the saltwater pool for children's swimming lessons for over 20 years, an offer which the College was able to extend through this July.

In October 2003, after a thorough analysis of the financial and operational considerations of owning the facility, the College, through a vote of its Trustees, determined that continued ownership was impractical, and offered the Breckinridge Center for sale.

"Although in many ways the College would have preferred to retain the property, we determined that it simply is not prudent or financially responsible to continue to own and maintain it," said Mills. "Our decision was based on many factors, including the costs of upkeep, deferred maintenance on the property, the distance of the property from the College's campus, and options for other uses there. In the end, it became clear that selling the property was the most sensible and practical option for the College."

As contemplated by Mrs. Patterson's gift, proceeds of the sale will strengthen the College's Breckinridge Fund, a source of revenue used to further Bowdoin's educational purposes of promoting academic excellence.

"Bowdoin values our longstanding relationship with the Patterson family and with the Town of York, and the Breckinridge Center has been a source of great pride for the College," said Mills. "We are thrilled to be able to transfer ownership of the estate to new owners who plan to maintain the house and the property in a way that will preserve its special qualities. We look forward to our continuing relationship with Mrs. Patterson's family who have become important members of the Bowdoin community."

For further information, please direct all inquiries or calls to Susan Danforth, Assistant Director of Communications at Bowdoin College, at (207) 725-3832;

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