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Donworth House, Machias, Maine
From Machias Valley News Observer, November 27, 2019. By Valdine Atwood Early in April of 1833, a young Irishman named Patrick Enright Donworth arrived in Machias. He was 21 years of age. Soon after arriving in Machias, he would begin a path that would lead him to be the head of one of the most prominent families to live in this town. Arriving with almost nothing but the determination to succeed, he set up shop as a tailor in a small building at the site of the former Eastern Hotel, which was located on the corner of Centre and Court Streets, next to the Centre Street Church. His habits of industry soon borefruit. In two years he purchased the present site of the Donworth Block, where Machias River General Store is currently located on Main Street, at that time occupied by the first schoolhouse in Machias. He transformed the building into a shop and moved his business there. The shop developed into a store, the tailoring business disappeared, a conspicuous share in local enterprises were taken, and before long he was fairly started in that career for which he became known — merchant, shipowner, lumber manufacturer. He bought real estate both in town and adjacent districts. His forestry was extensive and his vessels sailed from his wharves and were seen not only in Boston, New York, and other home ports but made the rounds of the seas, bringing return cargoes from other lands. Donworth would have been prominent in any social circle. In a larger city, the effects of his character would have been proportionally marked — he was a psychologically superior man. His faith was Catholic, he loved it and identified himself with the Catholic Church throughout his life. Everything Catholic attracted him. When Machias had no resident Catholic Pastor, it was at Donworth’s house that the clergymen from Ellsworth, Bangor and beyond came roughly every two months to officiate at divine services. He bought and presented the land on which the present Catholic Church on Free Street stands today. Not only was this his free gift, but he contributed largely towards the erection of the first church and its support. Drisko’s History of Machias, Maine tells us that “his chosen lines of life were exemplary. His spare hours were passed in reading, a source of information which he was indeed passionately found; often the hours of sleep were curtailed in order that this longing for knowledge might be satisfied.” He delighted in social life as a relaxation, and as a home keeper. He loved to play the part of host, and was never so at his best as at the table with his family and friends. In person he was tall and quite erect, which when put together with his dignified (though rather rapid) walk made him a prominent figure on the streets of Machias for many years. Patrick was born in County Limerick Ireland in 1812 and died at Machias on April 23, 1876, at the age of 64. He rests in the family lot in the Court Street Cemetery in Machias. At the time, he was remembered as one of the builders of Machias and as one of its most respected citizens. Patrick married twice — first to Sarah Eagan of Eastport in 1836; and in 1846 to Mary E. Baker of Boston. He and Mary had nine children, all of whom survived him. Four of his sons, John P., Clement B., George and Albert; and two of his grandsons, Eugene C. and Harold were lawyers. A daughter, Maria, was a member of the Order of the Sisters of Mercy at Providence, Rhode Island, while another daughter, Grace, lived in Machias and was a writer and artist, who painted scenes of the Machias River on the walls of one of his home’s rooms. Grace was a member of the Hannah Weston Chapter DAR, having descended from Job Burnham on her mother’s side of the family. The other sons were Charles, Francis, and Frederick, all, for the most part, lived and worked in Machias.