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Over the course of 30-plus years, Bruce devised and abandoned countless plans for what to put there, including a Sisyphean scheme that involved shipping a tiny cabin from the Adirondacks. It wasn’t until Bruce divorced, remarried, and adopted his third daughter, Hana, that he finally resolved to build.
By that time, Alex had grown up and become an architectural designer, founding her own practice, Alex Scott Porter Design, and Bruce’s last and best plan was to have her design something.
In addition to portraits of the Crie and Simpson families, early residents of the 0.7-square-mile island 20 miles off the Maine coast, one mile south of Matinicus Island, there are photo albums dating back to the early 1970s documenting island life.
There’s also a copy of the "2010 census," a cartoonish rendering of the 20 family homes on the island.
In it, a series of circumflex rooflines populate the page, save for an aberrant addition on the eastern end: a simple backslash of a roof, under which is written "Welcome Porters!
" Bruce Porter, a journalist and retired professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has owned a roughly three-quarter-acre lot on this remote, off-the-grid island for years, but it’s taken nearly a lifetime for him to build anything.
The Porters first came to Criehaven in 1971, the summer his oldest daughters, Alex and Nell, turned two and six, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he seriously considered building.
The library—–still littered with evidence of a raucous game of Texas hold ’em—–is a fine example.
After watching a friend haul propane tanks over from Matinicus then schlep them on foot to his house, Bruce was determined to make island life a bit more leisurely.
Fortunately, Howell, an avid outdoorsman, armed with an equally intrepid crew, was up to the challenge of building in harsh conditions.
Even when the system is taxed by unrelenting sunshine and a slew of summer visitors, the cistern remains half-full and the bathroom—–equipped with a composting toilet (see sidebar)—–smells pleasantly of pine.
Four solar panels, affixed to the southeast-facing porch, collect a surplus of energy—–easily a week’s worth when stored in auxiliary batteries—–and the DC-powered solar fridge is efficient enough to run indiscriminately.