- Village History - Village History

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Village History

During the summer of 1925 David M. Littlefield Sr. Opened a campground on a parcel of land he had purchased just north of the village of Ogunquit, Maine. Littlefield’s Ogunquit Campground, as it was known then, consisted of the lower field only, about 7 acres of land fronting on the marsh and Ogunquit river, but with no frontage on the State road. The deed of conveyance for the land is dated April 14, 1925, and included a “boat landing on the river, right of way for foot traffic and vehicles between the state road and the above lot for 5 years and the right to erect a one story building next to the state road.” Hattie B. Stover, who sold this land to Littlefield, retained the upper portion of her land fronting on the state road, on which was located the old homestead farmhouse and barn. It can be mentioned hear that Hattie B. Stover was the daughter of Joseph Winn, who settled on this land in 1849, built a farmhouse and barn, and improved the land. It was the Stover farmhouse that the campers passed as they entered the campground during it’s early days. David M. Littlefield Sr. Was a builder and during the summer and fall of 1925 he built a store a work shop, and six small cottages. The store and shop were located on the northwest corner of the Stover land on the state road across the lane from the Stover farmhouse, and is now the site of the Marlene (Littlefield) Stockhaus property. The six cottages consisted of 4 singles and two doubles, and were located on the land in a row just above the field.

The idea of moving buildings from one location to another in the campground was established early, and by 1930 most of the buildings had been moved from there original locations. For example, the store was moved from the upper field, or Stover land, and placed on the site of the present day Littlefield residence. At this time a small shop that stood behind the store on state road, was moved to it’s present location across the lane from the Littlefield house. It has been reported that the moving of the store and the shop from the Stover land was necessitated because the Stover family had developed a certain hostility towards the campground business that had been operated so successfully by Littlefield. Whatever the circumstances, it was clear that all the Littlefield’s buildings by 1930 were located on the lower field or campground land. Other changes that occurred during the first five years of operation were the moving of the original 4 single cottages from the upper row to the north side of the lane where they stand today, and the construction of two double cottages in their place.  In addition, two single cottages were added to the upper row, and 7 cottages (2 double and 5 singles) were built in a row along the south side of the lane bordering the field.

Other important improvements to the campground by 1930 were a laundry, the Hall, and a Summer House. The Hall was originally located on the other side of the lane from where it stands today, and it was moved to its present location in 1932. The Summer House or pavilion provided campers with a pleasant meeting place overlooking the Ogunquit River, dunes and ocean. In the center of the Summer House was a sandbox for children, with benches around the edge for the parents.  The rest of the campground area was occupied by tent sites. Two events during the 1930’s were important in the history of Littlefield’s Ogunquit Campground. In 1936 the Stover farmhouse and barn burned to the ground, and this may have precipitated the sale of the upper field to the Littlefield’s on April 13, 1937. With a few minor changes the campground now occupied essentially the same land area as it does today. In 1938 a new house was constructed on the foundation of the old Stover farmhouse, and the Littlefield family moved their permanent residence from the Village of Ogunquit. A second house fronting State Road was built in 1940, and three cottages, one old double moved from below and two new singles, were located on the upper field. The southwest bordering row of cottages was completed with the construction of 7 additional ones to bring the total number of Littlefield owned rental cottages to 30. In view of all these improvements one can only assume that running a campground was a profitable business during the years of the great depression. By today’s standards prices did not seem high. A cottage could be rented for $2 a night, and campsites were 50 cents. Hot showers were available in the store for a quarter. Cold showers were in the camper washrooms and were free.

During the early days campers set up their tents at the start of a weekend, and were required to remove them when they went home. However, it was soon agreed that, for a cost of $1 per week, tents could remain on the campground. This was the beginning of permanent sites for the campers, and soon platforms were constructed on which tents were set. Platforms were the first step in the evolution of camper-owned cabins. Next, half walls were added just as high as windowsill levels, soon to be followed by complete walls topped by a canvas roof. It should be noted that these structures were not complete cabins since they had no permanent roof, and therefore were not taxable. In the fall any furniture accumulated by the tenters had to be removed, usually to the Hall, for storage over the winter.

An important milestone in the history of the campground was reached in 1945 when, at a meeting between David M. Littlefield, Sr. and the campers, it was agreed that a permanent roof could be constructed if the campers were willing to be responsible for taxes on their cabins. The date of 1945 marks the time when camper-owned cabins first existed on the campground. David Littlefield, Sr. was well liked and seems to have assumed a paternalistic attitude toward the campers. He cautioned them about the tax consequences of building complete cabins, and is reputed to have extended credit to campers for rent or provisions. He was considered a fine man, always well dressed when seen on the campground, and wore a Panama hat. David Littlefield, Sr. died on March 28, 1949, and he was survived by his wife Florence and two sons David and Walter. Florence Littlefield lived until 1954, and a waterfront cabin was built in 1950 for her use. Following his father’s death the campground descended by will to David Merton Littlefield, Jr. and his wife Marjorie, who continued its operation. In 1952 the old frame store was torn down and a new combination store and house complex connected by a breezeway was constructed. In 1962 the house portion of this complex was moved to lot #91, and a new house was built. It serves as the present-day Littlefield residence. The store and breezeway remain a part of the residence and the office. Also in 1962 all 36 Littlefield-owned cottages were sold, thus marking the end of rental units on the campground. All cottages from this date were camper-owned, and Littlefield’s collected rent only for the land. In 1962 land rent was $100, water $15, electric $19 and taxes $38 per year. Sewers were installed in May of 1967.

Today there are 137 cottages, 5 year-round residences, a large modern carpenter’s shop, two storage sheds, and a Community Hall located in Littlefield’s Village.  Clearly the campers today have many modern conveniences that make life at the Village an extension of what they have at home. Some of the older residents believe that camping was better in the old days than it is now. There were more campground oriented activities such as dances every Saturday night with live music, play areas for children with horse shoes, swings and other games. Today life is more intense with all available open space taken up by cabins and parking lots. There does remain even today among most residents of Littlefield’s Village a sense of loyalty and “esprit de corps” to which one can point with pride and optimism. The development from 6 small cabins in 1925 to the complex village of today, and the continuity of residents, some of whom have come here since its beginning, is evidence that Littlefield’s Village even today offers a unique relaxing environment by the sea.