Hugged by a Maine Bear.

Perry's Nut House (1997 Report)

The contents and properties of Perry's Nut House, the well-known roadside stop along Route 1 in Belfast, Maine, will be put up for auction on June 4, 1997. John and Diana Bailey, who have owned the landmark for the past 24 years, decided to auction the property and contents after failing to find a buyer for the business.

Irving Perry opened Perry's Nut House along US 1 in 1927, with an "Animarium" stuffed animal zoo and a nut museum featuring examples of every existing nut variety.

Decades of travelers, including Eleanor Roosevelt, frequented the place, with its elephant statues outside and sweets and other gifts inside. Roosevelt even mentioned the shop's berry jams in her nationally syndicated newspaper column. "She was a loyal friend for many, many years,'' said Joshua Treat, who took over the business in 1940. "We had a lot of great customers. They came back year after year." Since then, however, no First Lady has mentioned the Nut House publicly.

"As we looked at getting ready for the upcoming season, we just decided we had other things to do," Diana Bailey said. The couple offered to let Treat resume ownership of the shop, declaring "It will not be sold as a business to anybody else." Treat and his son declined, and now the place will be sold off piecemeal.

We pray that a new home is found for some of PNH's more eclectic items, such as the Man Killer Clam, or the Boxing Bear Cubs.

Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce President Peter Nesin said the town would be sad to see Perry's close, without offering any ideas of how to keep it going. "I know we will miss it, and I wish the Baileys the best," he said. "It really was a landmark." [May 25, 1997]

Where To Find The Remnants Of Perry's Nut House

After Perry's Nut House of Belfast, Maine closed, its unusual items were auctioned off. Several can still be seen, however.

The owners of the Colonial Theater in Belfast purchased Hawthorne the elephant and Baby Hawthorne for $1,600. Hawthorne, with his eleven-foot-tall trunk, has been placed atop their roof, while Baby Hawthorne is now in the theater's lobby. The two elephants graced the entrance to Perry's Nut House for decades.

Other items purchased:

$400 bought three letters from the White House and a framed photograph of Perry himself. The letters were from President Dwight Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt and first lady Mamie Eisenhower's secretary. Ike's letter thanks Perry for sending a box of elephants.

Two fun-house mirrors, purchased for a total of $700, will be installed at Tuttle's Shoe Barn in Rockland, ME.

Perry's famous nut collection, consisting of at least one of every kind of nut known to man, was sold to Al Dimarco for $600. Other bidders reacted with stunned silence when he won. Dimarco owns Coastal Antiques of Prospect Harbor, and said the nuts will become part of his shop's permanent collection.

Another buyer bought a rack of Perry's Nut House golf shirts for $2 each and began selling them on the spot for $5 apiece. [July 20, 1997]

November 2004: Perry's continues to operate under new ownership at its original location at 45 Searsport Avenue. Their web site solicits suggestions from visitors on how to recreate the "Old Perry's."

1998: A denuded Perry's is open again, slowly adding items of interest.

[07/20/1997]
Address:
45 Searsport Ave., Belfast, ME
Directions:
On the south side of US Hwy 1/Searsport Ave. less than a mile west of the Belfast bridge.
Hours:
Summer daily 10 am - 6 pm. Shorter hours spring and fall. (Call to verify)
Phone:
207-338-1630
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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