The Guest House

This Escher-esque tree house sits right in the middle of the airy Peaks Island woods. With three bedrooms  (2 queens & 1 single) and two bathrooms, this camp style cabin is equipped with a full country kitchen, as well as plenty of books, games, and artwork to inspire you. Two bedrooms have their own screened-in porches, the perfect place to contemplate the sunrise, sketch, draw, or write late into the night. The classic wooden interior gives this house a homey and welcoming feeling; the large back deck is surrounded by luscious green woodlands to create a precious privacy.

 Just a short stroll from the ocean and quick bike ride from "down front" the residency is just close enough to a general store, post office, library and ice cream shop.

The best of both worlds is here because the city of Portland is just a fifteen minute ferry ride away, where plenty of food, music, and culture awaits.

Ferry schedules to Peaks Island can be found at Casco Bay Lines. Bike rentals, kayak rentals, and a taxi are also on island.

The Stone House

The Mazza Studio

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This sweet single story stone cottage is set just across the lane from the Guest House and truly looks as if one is stepping into a story book. (Live in one while you write one!) As if it were built with artists in mind, this beautiful stone structure holds a kind of woodland magic that can only inspire creativity. The kitchen is ample and fun. There is one Queen bedroom and a single/couch in the studio, one and a half bathrooms (rinse off the sea salt in the stone shower) and a working fireplace in the comfy living room (always welcome should the Maine fog roll in). There is a separate parlor for writing, and a separate studio space for drawing.  The back patio faces the woods, a perfect place to daydream. As with the Guest House above, residents are close to the ocean, where there are plenty of smooth rock promontories for picnics and painting.

Hike the land preserve trails right out the back door, or rent a bike at Brad's and explore the island! It is five miles around (great for running) and the shore is accessible on all sides with two sandy beaches, one especially kid friendly.  The sunsets over Portland are spectacular and the moon rises over the back shore, minutes from this house. 

The Mazza Studio is now ready for artists! A few final touches will finish the exterior this Fall, but artists happily shared the use of this 900 square foot space this summer. Lots of north light with floor to ceiling windows and two garage doors open to the breeze…it’s a raw, lovely space ready for paint on the floor, tables full of drawings, days full of ideas! We are so grateful to John Faison and Dale Freudenberger for sponsoring this amazing building, Ted Oldham for the beautifully thought out design, Keith Brenner at Casco Bay Engineering for making sure it will stand the test of time and to Doug Wilbur and his crew, cheerful, stoic and impervious to a Maine winter for constructing the studio so well. John and Marilyn daydreamed a studio on this spot and it will now continue to inspire artists!

Marilyn Mazza Faison

Our Muse, Marilyn Mazza Faison: A vibrant spirit, Marilyn's artistic touch can be felt in both the Stone House and the Guest House. Playful, sophisticated, eclectic and inspiring, she brought a gracious and fashionable New York charm to Peaks Island every summer. She and her husband John were always dedicated to sharing the relaxed spirit of the island with other artists. That legacy continues to this day, through John and this residency in honor of Marilyn. 

Nurturing art teachers, Iowa & RISD: Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa Marilyn attended Roosevelt High where she was popular and active in school as well as in extracurricular activities. A scout leader in the summer, she taught swimming to younger girls. 

During her school years, Marilyn was singled out by one of her teachers who saw in her a special talent for art.  This teacher nurtured Marilyn on weekends, helping her express her artistic skills and later, to further realize her educational goals by helping her to apply to Rhode Island School of Design. Accepted in 1956, Marilyn thrived at RISD. Her warm personality, natural leadership skills and artistic ability helped make her a star in her class.  A fashion design major,  "Mazz"  was the leader, along with her dear friend Charles Wright, of the school's annual fashion show "Take a Break". A wonderful experience, it was here that she exhibited her fashion and leadership talents. Her close friendships with students of all disciplines combined with her natural curiosity proved to be guiding factors in her success and breadth of experience after graduation.

Travel & a Bold Move: Marilyn travelled widely, first to the West, then South America. Finally settling in New York City, she spent several years working in a variety of fashion businesses; at Loomtogs she designed a line of sports fashion and met Henk Van Helsdingen who would become a close friend and business partner.

In 1968 she married John Faison. Shortly thereafter, Marilyn and Henk made a bold business move, thus changing all their lives! Combining their savings, she and Henk took out a full page ad in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. In an unprecedented gamble, they labeled themselves as Mazza van Helsdingen, a young design team willing to undertake any project.  The ad worked, and resulted in many leads that enabled them to design clothing, several show rooms, a co-op apartment, corporate presentations and many other design projects.

Bangor, Maine & Shoes: One such job for Marilyn was a six month stint designing shoes in Bangor, Maine. Her advisory position at Viner Brothers led to a full time job and her education about the construction of women's shoes. She subsequently worked for many different shoe companies,including Bandolino, traveling around Europe, South America and China as the shoe business evolved. Her last job was as head designer at Mootsie Tootsies, which, while it was based in Massachusetts, began developing shoes in China. 

Marilyn was very instrumental in helping Maxwell Shoe develop a close relationship with a young Taiwanese contractor who became a major supplier of shoes through his factory, Oriental Max in China.  Marilyn worked closely with founder J.C. Chang, developing a lasting friendship and working relationship with him and the many Chinese workers that became like family.

Peaks Island & Residency: In the meantime, Marilyn and her husband, John developed a long and lasting love for Maine. Their friendship with Charles Wright was a key catalyst for their purchase and restoration of some wonderful homes on Peaks Island.

Marilyn would be so proud to know that two of these homes, the Stone House and the Guest House, would become part of a residency for artists. Marilyn was always aware of the support and friendship of so many who helped her during her long career. She would be thrilled to know that her homes are now being used to further the dreams and talents of other artists.