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First Tenants

watercolor on Arches, #300
21 x 28 in, 2019

This is a watercolor I did in late summer of 2019.  My dear friend Bev (Ernest "Bev" Beviliacqua, watercolorsofmaine.com) had built this purple martin house many years ago.  To the best of his knowledge no mating pair had ever used the house over the many seasons.  (I painted another watercolor of this birdhouse some 30 years ago, before I knew Bev, and in truth that early watercolor was why we met and it led to an almost 3 decade friendship.)

The bird house had weathered considerably over the years of summer sun, ocean breezes and winter storms and was in serious need of repair.  During several of our usual breakfasts at Winnegance Cafe we discussed what needed rebuilding.  The roof shingles were weathered to a gray thin nothingness—some just beautiful wooden lace.  Most of the windows needed new miniature trim mouldings.  The cupola had long since rotted.  Bev had kept the remnants of the cupola on a shelve inside the cottage.  The fish weathervane also had decayed—its original gold leafing long gone. And some of the main building structure had weak points.

We decided the window openings needed to be a tad larger in the hopes purple martins would finally try the bird house as a nesting place.   Always a jump-in-and-just-do- it kind of man, Bev regretfully decided, at 91, the restoration was too much.  So over 2018 I carefully rebuilt the purple martin apartment house for Bev.   In early fall of 2018 Bev and I went down to the coast to install the house with its new wood, new shingles, restored cupola and spanking new white paint.

It makes me very happy that in the spring of 2019 Bev’s bird apartment, so long vacant, had its first nesting pair of purple martins—the larger window openings had done the trick.  I think this made my friend very happy.