Architect leaves his mark on Camden

By Stephanie Grinnell | Jan 12, 2013
Courtesy of: Dawn Harlor A sketch drawn by Minor Bishop of a Millwhistle Lane home in Camden.

Camden — Minor Bishop is a man who has left his mark all across the eastern hemisphere, including in Camden. The architect has purchased and redesigned eight houses in town, focusing on Greek Revival-style homes.

At 89 years old, he still owns three properties in Camden and this summer had a garage added to his “dream home” with views of Mt. Battie. While Bishop has no plans for another redesign in the near future, he said, “It's been a great adventure.”

Bishop first laid eyes on Camden when his niece Nancy Plunkett moved to town.

“Nancy came here because she liked it,” Bishop said. “I liked it too.”

He said downtown Camden has a cohesiveness and identity hard to find in other locations.

“I love the size of the village,” Bishop said. “There's no doubt about it: I fell in love with Camden.”

The first house he purchased and renovated was on Central Street; he described it as “a mess...I spent money like crazy.”

Bishop said it doesn't matter to him that he looses money on each house.

“I'm not what you call a successful builder — I'm an enthused architect,” he said.

Houses Bishop has worked on dot the landscape of Camden from Central Street to Mechanic Street, Sea Street to Wilson Avenue and Washington Street, Millwhistle Lane as well as Chestnut Hill. He has sold five houses after remodeling and retains ownership of five properties in Camden, including a home on a wooded lot on Millwhistle Lane, which he describes as his “last fun adventure.”

“I said, “Oh boy! What a wonderful place to build my dream house,'” he said of Millwhistle Lane, which boasts a brook and views of Mt. Battie from the property.

During renovations at one property, Bishop found some letters from a World War II soldier to his girlfriend. Bishop and his family located the soldier about five years ago and was able to return the letters to him, discovering he had married the recipient of the letters.

Bishop said he always has been interested in architecture, having noted houses being built when he was as young as 5 years old. His father designed public parks and his grandfather also was an architect, he said. Since he first began working as an architect, he said the rules have changed and become much more complex.

“[There are] more rules, paperwork. Now they have it down to which nails to use,” Bishop said.

He recently provided a sketch book of his Camden homes to real estate agent Dawn Harlor of Jaret and Cohn in Camden.

“He has a passion for creating and has created a great deal of goodness here over the years with beauty, employment and lovely homes for people,” Harlor said. “He is a very special guy.”

Aside from Camden, Bishop also has worked in exotic locations such as the Caribbean and communities including Bronxville, N.Y., and a resort in Bermuda — The Reefs — which remained standing when most other hotels on the island were destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. He has designed houses in Dark Harbor, and Catskills, N.Y., and worked for prominent families like the Bushes, Jane Pauley and the owner of racehorse Seabiscuit, among others.

Courier Publications Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at sgrinnell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Donald Mills | Jan 14, 2013 08:17

Fascinating story, and his reason for liking Camden so much has resonance with many, many visitors, myself included.

The one thing I would like to have seen with the piece would have been photos ( not a lot of them, just one of each) of the properties involved. Obviously they are distinctive, and to be treasured. Equally as obviously, there may well be privacy issues. However, it would have been nice......



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 13, 2013 06:39

That is so neat the he actually returned the letters to the sender and the sender and recipient are married.  What a pleasant surprise that must have been to get those letters back.  Nice story, VS.  Kudos to Mr. Bishop and his adventures of architecture.



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