Emwilauka-Graves Cottage (HOM.1)
A history of Emwilauka Cottage written by Carol Graves, a direct descendant of the Lalor family. A 1907 photo of the cottage.
Emwilauka Cottage History
Written by Carol Graves, a direct descendant of the Lalor family.
The Cottage Emwilauka in Sargentville, Maine was built in 1906 by Emma Dixon Stokely Evans, William Lalor, Laura Evans Lalor, and Katherine Lalor (Egerton). The cottage is situated on 8 acres in Billings Cove of the Eggemoggin Reach. Katherine Lalor was the daughter of William and Laura Lalor and was age 4 years when the cottage was built. Dorothy Lalor (Gaunt Billington) was born twelve years after her sister, Katherine, so was not there at the time of the construction. The name Emwilauka is derived from the names of Emma, William, Laura, and Katherine. (Emwilauka = Em for Emma, Wil for William, Lau for Laura, and Ka for Katherine.)
Mrs. Emma Evans came to Sargentville in 1904 to visit her minister, the Rev Dr. John Davies, who had built a cottage there. The story goes that the Rev Dr. Davie’s congregation bought him the property in Sargentville, perhaps as a retirement gift.
The following summer, Emma returned, bringing Laura with her. They rented a house in town (we believe it was the Rock Hill House). She liked the area and in November 1905 bought 8 acres from the Franklin Pierce Billings family of Billings Cove.
The Rev Dr. Davies was a Presbyterian minister. Mrs. Evans was a member of his congregation in Philadelphia. The Lalor family lived in Germantown, PA at that time. Mrs. Evans was the daughter of Mayor Stokely of Philadelphia. William Lalor was in the import business. Mrs. Evan’s money came from the Stokely family but was all lost in the stock market crash of 1929.
Mrs. Evans and Mr. William Lalor each paid half of the expenses of the cottage. They both gave their interest in the cottage to Laura Evans Lalor, Mrs. Evans’ daughter and Mr. Lalor’s wife.
A pier out into the Eggemoggin Reach was the first structure built, because all the supplies for the cottage had to come by boat.
They broke ground on the cottage in May 1906 and moved in August 14th of the same year. While the cottage was being built, the family rented a house in the town of Eggemoggin on Little Deer Isle (opposite Pumpkin Island). They would motor over on the boat named, “Emwilauka” daily to check on the progress of the construction.
The granite used in the construction came from the property itself, nearby the pump house. The quarry was a favorite play area for several generations of children living in the cottage.
William Lalor’s older brother, James Davenport Lalor, was an engineer and helped to design the fundamentals of the cottage. In 1906, the cost of the pier and cottage was $10,000-$12,000.
Extracts from the Account Book, dated 1905-1906
There was a falling out between the Lalor and Davies families soon after the Lalors moved to Sargentville. The issue was water. The Davies rented the Lalors the use of their reservoir, which is located on the Davies’ property. Apparently, Mrs. Davies accused the Lalors of using too much water. The Lalors took offense at this accusation. Consequently, the Lalors build a well on Emwilauka property in 1910, which is still in use today. The Rev Dr. Davies wrote William Lalor a letter, dated 1910 stating that the Lalors could no longer share the reservoir. Dorothy Lalor Billington believed that the Lalor well was an artisan one.
Cyprus wood was used in the house interior for the panels in the living room and dining room. It had to be shipped by schooner to Sargentville.
The cuckoo clock in the living room above the desk once belonged to Laura Lalor’s sister Mae. Mae died at the age of 18 from TB while recuperating in California.
The hooked rug above the fireplace in the living room was made by Captain Torrey from Brooklin, Maine. He said, “For you, Mrs. Lalor, I’ll put in an extra sail.” The Lalors decided it was too attractive to be used as a rug and framed it and put in on the mantle.
The house was built with two toilets: one in the upstairs large pink bathroom and off the downstairs kitchen for the servants’ use. The maid would bring hot water in a basin for cleaning and bathing. Years later a bathroom off the master bedroom was added. The half bathroom, consisting of a new toilet and sink, was made out of a closet in the pink bedroom.
The “shaving chair” in the living room once belonged to Mayor Stokely of Philadelphia.
The desk and Victorian settee in the living room, and the dining room chairs all came from the Stokely family attic in Philadelphia.
Much of the furniture in the upstairs guest rooms was brought in by steamboat from Boston. It was assembled once it arrived at Emwilauka.
The Lalor family had five children: Essie (died at age 10), Grace (never married), James (married to Clara), William (married to Laura Evans), and Hannah (never married). Grace and Hannah ran a school together.
William and Laura Lalor had two daughters: Katherine (Kate) and Dorothy (Dot). The sisters were twelve years apart. Kate married Stuart Wilson Egerton, an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor from Baltimore. Dot married William (Bill) Gaunt, a commercial real estate businessman from Philadelphia. In 1941, Laura offered the house to both daughters and their spouses. Dot declined the offer because she was newly married and could not afford her share of the costs. Kate and Stuart accepted the offer and the property transferred to them.
In 1955, Dot and Bill Gaunt decided to buy property of their own in Sargentville. They bought a lovely farmhouse between the two Sargent properties in the summer of 1956.
“Cousin” Margery Lalor was the daughter of James and Clara (Kate and Dot’s first cousin). Margery was four years older than her cousin, Kate, and sixteen years older than Dot. She visited the William Lalors on several occasions and later bought a house on Reach Road in Sargentville, opposite Emily Webb’s house which was post office at the time. Dot gave Margery money towards refurbishing her Sargentville home. She drove an old Ford Woody. She lived on Fifth Avenue in New Your City and taught school there.
Early Life in Sargentville:
Laura Lalor did not drive. The family chauffeur, Zebedee Ashby, drove them each year to Maine. William would drive up with Laura and her daughters and then would drive back to Philadelphia. The ladies, remaining in Sargentville, would walk to the Sargent House for their meals.
Oftentimes, the Lalors would visit friends in Northeast Harbor and would travel there by steamboat. It was approximately an hour ride to Northeast. The steamboat stopped off at Sargentville and Scott’s landing on Deer Isle before proceeding on the journey. This would have been in the late 1920’s.
In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, there was petition to stop the building of the Deer Isle Bridge. Dot said, “We all signed the petition against the bridge.”
The family’s pleasure boat, Emwilauka, was last used in the late 1920’s/early 1930’s, when Dot was in her late teens.
The family rented the cottage out a couple of summers in the 1930’s. It was almost sold after the stock market crash. The selling price at that time was $6000.00. No one seemed to want a house with no furnace.
In 1958, Kate passed away after a three year battle with colon cancer. In December 1960, Stuart Egerton married Elizabeth Foster Peagram. Libby was a society column writer for the Baltimore Sun at the time. She had no children. Her first summer in Emwilauka was 1961. The family lore is that due to the poor weather, Libby never “saw the water” that first summer.