Augusta Merrill Barstow Hunt (1842-1932), wife and widow of sugar refiner George Hunt and the great, great grandmother of Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt (“As Good As It Gets,” “Mad About You,” “Empire Falls”), was a prominent activist in women’s rights, suffrage and the temperance movement. The Hunts made their home and raised their children here. Augusta Hunt was a president of the Portland chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (site W04 and site SD05) for 15 years, during which time the WCTU established the Coffee House and Friendly Inn, the Flower and Diet Missions, a day nursery, free kindergartens, and the establishment of a police matron for female offenders. Hunt also served as superintendent of several departments in the national WCTU, was active in the Women’s War Council of the YWCA and was president of The Home for Aged Women (site W18 and site SA01) for 32 years. She was also one of the first two women admitted into membership of the Maine Historical Society. As president of the Portland Woman’s Council, an auxiliary to the National Council, she was instrumental in the enactment of a law giving a mother equal rights with the father in the care and guardianship of minor children, which remains on the books today, and a law permitting the election of women to the school board.
Mrs. Hunt made frequent appearances before the Maine legislature in Augusta, advocating for establishment of a cottage system for the Reform School for Boys, a reformatory prison for women and for equal suffrage. She lived to see her work in suffrage come to fruition after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, and Mrs. Hunt, at 78 years old, was the first woman to cast a ballot in a Portland election. She, her husband and members of their family are buried in Evergreen Cemetery on Stevens Avenue (site SA01).
For many years after the Hunts’ ownership, the home served as the parsonage for State Street Church (site S12).