The Helmreichs, the Baxters and now Bowdoin College are just three of the many past owners of 6 Boody Street, President-elect Safa Zaki’s future home. The December 2022 purchase of the 1927 structure marks the next chapter in a history intertwined with Bowdoin’s.
Plans for the house’s acquisition were developed well before Zaki was selected as the College’s next president. Concerns arose among members of the presidential search committee about the ability of the current presidential house on 79 Federal Street to attract a wide array of candidates.
“One concern that emerged was whether 79 Federal would work well for families with younger children,” Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Matt Orlando wrote in an email to the Orient. “We also hoped to offer our new president and future presidents a house with a floor plan more conducive to hosting family and guests and a yard that provided more privacy.”
Since 1997, the Wild family, who own and operate a construction and design company in the Brunswick area, has inhabited the house. Sue and Mark Wild raised their children at 6 Boody, which Sue Wild recalls fondly.
The Wilds acquired the house from Paul and Jonathan Helmreich. The Helmreichs inherited the property from their late father, Ernst Helmreich, a professor of history and political science at Bowdoin for more than 40 years, for whom Helmreich House is named.
Paul and Jonathan Helmreich grew up in the Boody Street house, which Sue Wild says has not changed too much since it was constructed.
“Although we have remodeled a lot of the home, we maintained all the woodwork and much of the original light and plumbing fixtures. The carriage house/garage was still standing when we purchased the home, but was replaced in 2000 with a garage that could accommodate modern cars!” she wrote in an email to the Orient.
Ernst Helmreich and his wife, Louise, purchased the house from Marjorie Prince Riley in 1929. The Riley family name remains prominent in the Brunswick area through its ownership of Maine Street’s Riley Insurance Agency.
The 6 Boody Street lot was originally three parcels of land, one sold to Riley by Francis R. Johnson in 1926 and two by Constance French Baxter in 1926 and 1927. Baxter was married to John Lincoln Baxter, Class of 1916, who later became an instructor in German and trustee of the College.
In 1932, a plot of land across the street—7 Boody—was developed, and what would become Reed House was constructed. Though there will now be two college-owned properties in close proximity to one another, Orlando does not believe that the presidential house will have any negative ramifications on Reed House or on neighboring town residents.
“Unlike our other College houses, Reed House is embedded in a quiet neighborhood and through the years has amicably coexisted,” Orlando wrote. “As we always do for residential properties, the College will increase its annual contribution so that the town is made whole for any lost property tax revenue.”
Sue Wild noted her excitement for President-elect Zaki to move into 6 Boody and continue the long legacy of Boody Street’s connection to the College.
“We are happy that President Zaki and her family will be living here!” she wrote.