In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Presque Isle: The Star City

Phair House, the Bellstead and the Social Security Building

Text by Sebastian and Scott, students at Presque Isle Middle School
Images from

Thomas H. Phair was a Presque Isle pioneer and a wealthy man. Phair was known as the “Starch King” because he was in the potato starch business. He was born in New York in 1850. In 1856, Phair and his mother moved to Presque Isle. He built his house in Presque Isle in the 1890s on the corner of Chapman and Main Streets. In 1916, he sold it to Paul X. Beaulier who operated it as a boarding house. Beaulier sold the house in 1944 to the Bell Telephone Company and they used it to house out-of-town operators. The building was called the Bellstead because the telephone company owned it. In 1958, the Bellstead was closed and torn down in 1962. Eight years later, in 1970, the Social Security Building was built on that location and is still there today.

Graves III, Richard A. Forgotten Times : A Walk Through History. 2007.