Growth of the Community and of an Association
Mr. and Mrs. Chapman had summered here often before buying the Wildwood Park property. After the tourist era they continued to play an important part in Park affairs. The first recorded Wildwood Park Association meeting was held on November 8, 1934. Those directors present were:
Mr. and Mrs. Barker Burbank
Mr. and Mrs. Leon L. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Claude Mills
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Chapman
Mr. and Mrs. Guy Sargent
Miss Rose Allen
To be a member of the Wildwood Park Association, one had to pay lot dues and adhere to several restrictions
Covenants and Restrictions, April 22, 1911
1. That there shall not be erected upon the premises herein before described, any buildings other than a dwelling house, private stable, garage, and the usual out buildings, when constructed and erected as herein provided.
2. That such a dwelling house stand back at least fifteen feet from the line of the streets, upon which the same shall front, or from any adjacent street, if a corner lot, and five feet from the side line of any plot. Stoops and steps, however, shall not be considered a violation of this restriction.
3. Private stables, garages, or other outbuildings, shall stand back at least sixty feet from the front lot line, and at least fifteen feet from any adjacent side street line, if a corner plot, and five feet from the side line of any plot.
4. That no dwelling be erected upon any parcel of land on said premises of less than forty-five feet of frontage upon the street upon which the same shall front.
5. No fences shall be erected upon any parcel of land less than fifteen feet from the street lot line, and such fences shall be hedge fences not exceeding four feet in height.
6. No dwelling or frame construction shall be erected upon said premises of the “flat roof type.”
7. No dwelling fronting Ocean Terrace shall cost less than three thousand dollars ($3000) those dwellings fronting Wildwood Boulevard to cost no less than two thousand dollars ($2000) and all those dwellings fronting on the other roads and lanes to cost no less than twelve hundred dollars ($1200). All the above restrictions shall apply to the plots designated by number on the filed plan of Wildwood Park.
8. The Concord Realty Company reserves for itself, its successors and assigns, the right to erect and maintain on the rear dividing line of the plot hereby conveyed poles with cross arms thereon, for electric light and telephone wires.
9. The owner shall keep all buildings in good repair and the premises free and clear from everything deleterious to health and shall conform to all sanitary rules and regulations which may be adopted and prescribed by the Wildwood Park Associa- tion, which association shall be composed of property owners of Wildwood Park.
10. The owner shall pay into the improvement and maintenance funds of the Wildwood Park Association the sum of five dollars ($5) per year for each lot hereby conveyed, commencing with the year 1912. Such payments shall be due and payable April first of each and every year thereafter and shall be binding upon any subsequent owner or owners of such lot or lots, and the payment by the owner of each lot of said five dollars ($5)per annum into the improvement and mainte- nance fund shall entitle the owner or any subsequent owner to the privilege of becoming a member of said Wildwood Park Association.
11. All the foregoing covenants shall run with the land until the year 1960, when they shall cease and terminate. The right being reserved by said Concord Realty Company to release by sealed instrument any plot from any of said covenants andrestrictions.
These restrictions were terminated in 1960.
Wildwood had advertised from its beginnings in 1913 “wide, graded streets, electric lights and telephone” with “a perfect sewer and drainage system” and “city water service.” Negotiations for an adequate number of fire hydrants took place in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, with costs shared between the Town, Wildwood residents, and the Portland fire district. Trying to achieve “perfection” with road drainage continued into the early 1990s as Wildwood and the Town have negotiated about needs, remedies, and sharing of costs.
Although the town had approved electric street lights for Wildwood in March 1928, during World War II the area was blacked out. Again, in 1948, the residents of Wildwood Park had to petition the town for street lights.
Directors and members of Wildwood Park Association met yearly except for a gap of three years during World War II. During this three-year period, conditions in the Park deteriorated. In 1945 the residents approached Mr. Chapman with a request that they resume the Association in order to improve conditions in the Park.
In 1942, when the Heldmans moved to 32 Wildwood Park, there were only five houses on Wildwood Boulevard. There were no houses on Sylvan Lane or Ocean Terrace except for the McDennotts. There was a wooden shelter at the top of the Park, located on the left-hand side behind the entrance walls. The shelter was used as refuge in bad weather for people waiting for the city or school bus. It was torn down in 1966.
By 1959, an article in the real estate section of the Press Herald described a year-round residential area with most of its homes occupied by middle income couples in their 20’s or 30’s, with “children aplenty.” The paper reported that “more than a bus load” of children leave each morning for school in Cumberland Center. Once a tightly-knit neighborhood, the varying interests of the growing population were making it less so-but it still seemed an ideal spot:
. . . although the nine mile drive to Portland requires some determination on cold and snowy mornings, there isn’t a Wildwood commuter who doesn’t look forward in the summer to getting home to the shaded coolness-and perhaps a swim-after a hard day at the office.
In 1956, the residents of Wildwood Park began legal proceedings to incorporate as a charitable corporation. The corporation enabled the Association to legally raise funds to keep the Park in continued good repair and order. This corporation was not in effect until 1960 when the existing Wildwood Park Association restrictions terminated. The residents, in 1963, changed the name of the Association from Wildwood Park Association to the Wildwood Park Associates, Inc. A split-rail fence was erected and rose bushes planted around the reserve to stop the troublesome problem of people parking on the reserve.
Although Wildwood Park has increased from uninhabited woods before 1909 to sixty-seven homes today, it has retained its beauty and natural state. The tennis court, used extensively in the Wildwood Inn era, then occasionally abandoned, persists after three-quarters of a century. Other efforts have been more fitful-but recent years have seen a summer space for volley ball and a small winter skating rink on the Reserve. The Inn’s pier is long gone, but the number of residents’ boats at moorings south of Anderson Rock keeps growing. Boaters row, paddle, or run small outboards to get to their craft because residents at least twice have rejected the idea of building another dock. High costs to build and maintain one, liabilities in usage, and concerns about spoiling views of and from the beach have been the decisive negative factors.
Over the years new houses were built and older ones expanded and changed. Unlike many neighborhoods where each building proposal seems to lead to arguments before the zoning board, Wildwood families have been tolerant of most proposals for change, knowing that someday they may have something of their own to set forth. Colonials, ranches, split levels and other diversities of style abound, but from the more modest to the most elaborate projects, they have enhanced the appearance of the community.
The Association remains strong and active. Neighborhood democracy is alive and well in Wildwood, annual meetings are well attended as are special meetings called to decide the occasional issue or expenditure. Each year members gather in force to, among other things, clean up the shoreline, mow and trim the reserve and entrance to the Park, and repair the steps and railings to the beach.