Danish Village

No longer exists
Also known as: Den Danske Landsby
Rt. 1, Scarborough, Maine

Den Danske Landsby - in English, “The Danish Village” - one of America's first motels


Danish Village, Scarborough, c.1930

View this photo at mainememory.net



Den Danske Landsby – in English, “The Danish Village” – one of America’s first motels. In some sources, it’s actually touted as “the first.” Built in 1928 by hotelier Henry Rines, the man responsible for Portland’s Eastland Hotel, the Danish Village served as a way station for well-to-do motorists and families traveling Route 1, then known as the Boston Road. However, while the Eastland was renowned for its Danish Tea Room, the village went a step further, featuring 100 cottages designed by Boston architect Peter Holdensen, with no two exactly alike. Modeled after the medieval Danish village of Ribe, the cottages were clustered around a three-story Raadhus, or “Town Hall,” which housed offices and a restaurant for the popular tourist camp. The brick archway marked the start of the sidewalk at the village entrance, while the fountain stood in the center of a crushed-stone courtyard.

“Throughout the 1930s, business flourished,” wrote Frank Hodgdon, for a historical society feature. “At our Willowdale Road home, in the shadow of the Town Hall spire, I remember the familiar sounds of dishes being washed, trash being dumped, and the help on the kitchen steps conversing as they had a quick smoke.

“All of the employees were outfitted with period costumes. Even the groundskeeper, [who] wore a brass-buttoned and gold-braided cutaway coat and broad-brimmed black felt hat, giving him the role of ‘burgomeister’ or mayor,” wrote Hodgdon. “As a 5-year-old in 1936, I recall seeing him alight from his Model T in this regalia as he reported for work.”

The village was taken over by the federal government during World War II as workforce housing, with each cabin split into three and four apartments. In 1947, fire swept through the Town Hall restaurant, destroying the towering spire. The building was then converted to a gift shop, but the complex never returned to its prewar luster. In 1967, the village was purchased by The Milestone Foundation, an organization for recovering alcoholics. However, within a year, another fire claimed 22 of the cottage units and, by 1970, the remaining units followed.


Cumberland County, Maine (290)
Maine (1,864)
Placename (9,526)

Update Log 

  • November 5, 2019: New photos from Brian Bartlett
  • December 9, 2014: Updated by Brian Bartlett: Added description



Danish Villag e
Posted August 29, 2015, by Kathleen E. Welch (lobstah21 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I remember begging Mummy to drive in so I could see the village, this is in the 1950's, wanted to badly to see it but she was afraid that we would be seen in there, I was a kid I didnt' care.

Americans, Americans they don't treasure the places that are built, American Saying is if it's old, don't keep it up tear it down. I had to go to England to see Castles and Manor houses and history Not here in Maine

We could have had a wonderful World War 1 Museum at Fort Williams but rip it down rip it down rip it down, it's the American way just like our lovely Union Station in Portland where as a little girl we went to pick up Nana coming from Derry NH. So yup, Americans don't care about history.