Visit the Wakefield Wildlife Sanctuary & Historic Eco-Cabins

Kirsten Brewer & Theresa Kerchner

The late Kendra Wakefield Shaw was a fifth-generation resident of West Gardiner, Maine. Her great-great-grandfather, James Davis, began acquiring the family land in 1828, when he bought a portion of West Gardiner settlement lot number 17. Kendra loved nature and her family’s camps on Cobbossee Stream, which were built by her grandparents, Maude and Allen Wakefield, in the early 1900s. Kendra enjoyed fishing, swimming, and canoeing in the stream and couldn’t imagine a better place for rest and relaxation. She studied entomology at the University of Maine. Animals and wildlife were her passion.

Kendra wanted to ensure that her family’s legacy on Cobbossee Stream would be preserved and the land remain undeveloped as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2006 she started a conversation with the Kennebec Land Trust about donating her land and cabins to the Trust. Like many of KLT’s land conservation projects, this one was complicated.

Conserving this property would meet two of KLT’s goals— protecting water quality and undeveloped shoreline—but Kendra was also focused on the historic value of the cabins. KLT’s strength is in land conservation, not in the restoration or maintenance of structures, and the viability of the project was in question. Kendra stayed in contact with KLT over the years and continued to discuss options that would meet her goals and be realistic for the organization.

When Kendra passed away in the fall of 2016, KLT was able to accept the bequest of her land and cabins on Cobbossee Stream. Her estate included a small fund for the maintenance of the historic cabins, and KLT accepted the responsibility of managing the Sanctuary in perpetuity to protect water quality and wildlife, for low impact outdoor recreation, and to preserve its historical values.

Two of the cabins were restored by the Maine Cabin Masters last year and are now available to the public as rentals, with a discount for KLT members. These eco-friendly, solar-powered cabins will also be used for KLT programming, including workshops with guest artists, writers, and scientists.

Our summer interns and our stewardship staff, Jean Luc and Tyler, will be constructing a new hiking trail at the Sanctuary this summer. Stop by to see the cabins and enjoy the shoreline!

More information about renting the cabins is available on our website,, or call the office with questions, 207-377-2848.

This article was featured in our Spring 2019 newsletter. The newsletter is mailed to all KLT members. To subscribe to our newsletter mailing list, please join KLT.