Breaking Homestead

Before she died, she spent years rebuilding this home. Now her family wants someone to enjoy her ‘happy place.’ — Homestead — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Before she died, she spent years rebuilding this home. Now her family wants someone to enjoy her ‘happy place.’ — Homestead — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Alison McKellar reaches to get Diego, her late sister’s pit bull rescue, and his muddy paws off of the mattress. Alison talked about her sister, Kristen McKellar, and the small, dilapidated Belfast home she devoted the final two years to utterly renovationg earlier than her dying on August 2, 2018. Kristin was swimming in Damariscotta Lake when she was hit by a motor boat.

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Employees •
October 14, 2018 7:00 am

Up to date: October 14, 2018 7:35 am

During the last two years, a cheerful blonde lady with a software belt slung round her hips and a tame squirrel perched on her shoulder spent her days reworking a dilapidated home on Wight Road in Belfast into one thing fantastic.

It was a undertaking collectively undertaken by Kristen McKellar, 32, and her mom, Molly McKellar of Lincolnville. However it was Kristen McKellar who did the work. A graphic designer and web site builder by commerce, she threw herself into gutting the small, blue house and rebuilding it, developing a wrap-around porch, rebuilding the roof and coated it with golden cedar shingles. She lowered the ceiling, moved the steps, modernized the kitchen, put in a brand new electrical system, minimize and fitted the tile and far more, all the time including particular touches from the countless concepts that appeared to fizz out of her head. Kristen McKellar was an inveterate salvager, utilizing driftwood she collected from a Knox County seashore as inside design parts and an vintage barn door, nonetheless with its unique hardware, as a sliding door for the downstairs rest room.

The Belfast home, because the family calls it, slowly however certainly took on the indomitable character of its builder, who taught herself numerous the carpentry expertise she utilized by watching how-to movies on YouTube and by studying books. Kristen McKellar crammed the home with laughter and the hijinks of the rescue animals she surrounded herself with, together with Paul, the squirrel, and Diego, a pitbull she saved from a high-kill animal shelter in New York Metropolis. As quickly because it was attainable to achieve this, she moved in, cooking on a scorching plate within the gutted kitchen, and labored on it as she was dwelling there. She didn’t thoughts a great problem.

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Alison McKellar talks about her late sister, Kristen, and the work she was doing to utterly renovate a small home in Belfast. Kristen McKellar was swimming in Damariscotta Lake on Aug. 2, 2018, when she was hit by a motor boat.

“She kind of dwelled a little bit in the mentality of a superhero,” her sister, Alison McKellar, who sits on the Camden Choose Board, stated final week. “She was always about finding solutions to things.”

Though the home was a house and a labor of affection for Kristen McKellar, she knew she couldn’t keep perpetually. Molly McKellar, an actual property agent, had invested her entire retirement in buying and renovating the home, with the last word objective of promoting it and making her funding again and hopefully slightly extra. By the top of July, Kristen McKellar was so shut to ending the home that she was beginning to search for flats to lease in Belfast.

Then August got here and every thing modified.

The accident

On Thursday, Aug. 2, a scorching day in a scorching summer time, Kristen McKellar determined to head to Jefferson after work. She joined a family good friend at his camp on Damariscotta Lake, they usually have been having fun with a swim round nightfall within the cool water when a motor boat approached them. It was shut, and coming quick, and Kristen McKellar pulled off a yellow flipper she was sporting and waved it frantically above her head. Her good friend informed Alison McKellar later they each have been screaming.

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

The Belfast home that Kristen McKellar had been utterly renovating.

“The boat passed in between them super fast,” Alison McKellar stated. “It was one of those things, when he thought it would be like, ‘Whoa, that was a close call.’ He swam over to her and asked if she was OK. She said, ‘It’s not good.’”

The boat, pushed by a person from Massachusetts, ultimately rotated, Alison McKellar stated, they usually helped convey Kristen McKellar to shore. It’s arduous to piece collectively precisely what occurred and when, however McKellar thinks now that her sister was not alive very lengthy after being hit by the boat.

“It was such a blur. You go into crisis mode, and it doesn’t seem real,” Alison McKellar stated of the occasions of that day. “There were all these times I would have thought she would have died on the roof, with the squirrel on her head, or riding her motorcycle with the dog. It didn’t seem like a dangerous thing, being out on the lake.”

What occurred to Kristen McKellar on the lake continues to be underneath investigation, her sister stated. She was swimming maybe 150 ft from shore, which is inside the 200-foot “no wake,” or water security zone that has been delineated by Maine regulation. Inside this zone, it’s unlawful to function any watercraft in such a means as to recklessly create a considerable danger of great bodily damage to one other individual. Moreover, it’s unlawful to function any watercraft in a approach that recklessly creates a considerable danger of great bodily damage to one other individual. Alison McKellar hopes that what occurred to Kristen McKellar won’t be taken flippantly.

“Kristen wasn’t about revenge, but she did really want the lakes to be safe for swimmers,” Alison McKellar stated. “I see so many people on the lake, and they’re not looking. If you can’t see in front of you, you need to slow down. Driving a boat has to be taken more seriously.”

Choosing up the items

It may be onerous to ease again into one thing akin to a traditional life after the sudden dying of a beloved one. Duties, giant and small, eat grieving associates and family, from engaged on the obituary they by no means thought they’d write to arranging the memorial service they by no means needed to maintain. However Kristen McKellar’s family took some solace from the truth that she had not wasted a minute of her 32 years.

“She was so passionate, and very fun, too,” Alison McKellar stated, including that her two boys adored the aunt they regarded as a superhero, too. “The worst thing is when somebody dies and they haven’t really started to live yet. They think their real life is going to come later. Kristen wasn’t like that. She was doing what she wanted to do. She was definitely living her life.”

After McKellar’s dying, her family determined to honor her needs and ensure they took care of the rescue animals that had been on her thoughts. Alison and her family had signed up, at Kristen McKellar’s urging, to foster a pet with Maine Coast Animal Rescue.

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Alison McKellar comes up out of the cellar of the small Belfast home that her sister was renovating. Alison talked about her sister, Kristen McKellar, and the love she put into the home she had been engaged on earlier than her dying on August 2, 2018. Kristin was swimming in Damariscotta Lake when she was hit by a motor boat.

“OK,” Alison McKellar informed her sons. “We’re still going to do that.”

Additionally they tracked down a bunny that her sister had been worrying about and gave it a brand new residence. All of a sudden, her home was quite a bit busier and extra filled with animals than it had been, however that was all proper, she figured.

“There are things you have control over and things you don’t have control over. The things you have control over are very few things. How long would Kristen be OK with me just dwelling in despair? Not that long, I don’t think,” Alison McKellar stated. “So we’re going to embrace the chaos. We’re going to be more like Kristen, if Kristen can’t be here. The only thing that took any of the grief away was doing things that Kristen would have wanted me to do.”

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Alison McKellar talks about her late sister, Kristen, and the work she was doing to utterly renovate a small home in Belfast. Kristen McKellar was swimming in Damariscotta Lake on August 2, 2018, when she was hit by a motor boat.

Which brings her again to Belfast and the home that was so filled with her sister’s spirit that she dreaded going there after the accident. She thought that it will harm to be there and that if there have been ghosts round, they might be unhappy ones.

It didn’t end up that approach.

“I thought it was going to be worse than it was. It doesn’t make me sad and depressed,” Alison McKellar stated. “The kids say, ‘Can we live there? Can we live in Kristen’s house?’ … She had created a happy place here. It still is. It hasn’t been too much of a fight to feel that way.”

‘A happy house’

On a tour by way of the home, with Diego padding alongside behind her like a trustworthy shadow, Alison McKellar factors out the key compartment underneath the steps that her sister had constructed for her nephews and the scrolled particulars on the roof trim she had completed herself. Even on an overcast day, the home appears brilliant and spacious, and is a far cry from the house Molly McKellar purchased in 2016 for $70,000. Again then, the furnace was positioned in an upstairs room and the home usually was in disrepair.

“It was not the kind of place you’d want to spend the night,” Alison McKellar stated.

However Molly and Kristen McKellar noticed its potential. That they had checked out a whole lot of homes that have been both within the incorrect location or have been on the market for the flawed worth, Molly McKellar stated, however the Wight Road home was totally different. The house is roughly 1,400 sq. ft and has about an acre of land, they usually dreamed of renovating it so it will be a superb residence for a family with a few youngsters or for a retired couple. That’s what Kristen did.

“She loved it,” Molly McKellar stated. “She ended up doing most of it by herself. We’d talk or text [about the house] every day. It was great. She almost had it done. She was so excited.”

Courtesy of Alison McKellar

Courtesy of Alison McKellar

The home on Wight Road in Belfast earlier than Kristen McKellar began renovating it.

Now she is hoping someone else will take a look at the home and see the sweetness and risk there. Molly McKellar stated she is planning to record it at $250,000 and see what occurs.

“I feel overwhelmed,” she stated. “I play the lottery four times a week. I would love to make it into a house for abused women or teens, but I haven’t won yet.”

And whoever lives subsequent in the home, she hopes that they, too, will really feel the happiness she thinks her daughter left behind as certainly because the nails she hammered into the partitions.

“After she died, I would just go up there and sleep in her bed. That was the only place I wouldn’t cry,” Molly McKellar stated. “It’s a happy house, and both of us really loved it.”

Comply with the Bangor Daily News on Fb for the newest Maine information.