15 Things To Do This October!

As the days grow darker and cooler it’s time to get out and enjoy fall in Maine! If creepy, haunted places aren’t your thing, maybe a sunny afternoon picking apples is right for you? Join us and our friends working to preserve what is special about Maine at one or all of these events!

1) Chilling Celtic Tales - October 4th-5th

Victoria Mansion,109 Danforth Street, Portland

Join storyteller Janet Lynch for an evening of slightly spooky tales, similar to what Victoria Mansion's Irish servants would have told around Samhain, the Celtic holiday of Halloween. Tour the Mansion and get a glimpse of some rarely seen spaces in the house. (Geared towards children ages 5 to 17.)

2) Wreck of the Otraska Walking Tour- October 5th

Cemetery Office, Evergreen Cemetery, Stevens Avenue, Portland

On a warm morning in October 1861 seven young men sailed forth from Portland for a day of fishing aboard the Otraska. A sudden squall surprised them and led to the sinking of the vessel and the deaths of all but one. Stroll through Evergreen as Friends of Evergreen Cemetery weave the tale of the Otraska, her crew, their lives and demise.

3) Fifth Maine Museum’s Harvest Fest - October 12th

Fifth Maine Museum, Peaks Island, Portland

Celebrate the end of the season with an evening of jazz and a warm meal including harvest vegetables and cider at this 1888 building built as a memorial and reunion hall by veterans in the Fifth Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which served from 1861 to 1864 and saw action in several notable Civil War battles. In 1956, the building was given to the Peaks Island community to serve as a museum devoted to the history of the regiment and island.

4) Shaker Village Harvest Fest - October 12th

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, 707 Shaker Road (off Route 26), New Gloucester

Fresh picked apples, live music, wagon rides and more. If you haven’t visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker village, the only active and functioning Shaker Community in the world, then what are you waiting for? Tour the Shaker Barn and the Shaker Village Museum during the festival. And if you can’t make it to the festival on the 12th, then consider participating in the Friends of the Shakers Fall Workday on October 26th.

5) Apple picking at a historic farm.

What is more Maine than an afternoon in a sunny orchard picking apples? Picking apples on a foggy morning in a hillside orchard, followed by a hot cup of cider back at the barn! Support local growers that work hard to keep our agricultural landscapes intact. Choose an orchard from a recent Portland Press Herald list, choose your own, or visit my favorite - Notre Dame Orchards, Shaker Hill Road, Alfred. This orchard is part of the Alfred Shaker National Register Historic District, and if you go, stop at the delicious bakery too! Proceeds from the Shaker Hill Bakery support the York County Shelter programs.

6) Last Day for Observatory Tours! - October 14th

Portland Observatory, 138 Congress Street, Portland

Climb the mighty tower one last time this season. Enjoy the foliage across greater Portland from one of the highest points in the city! Don’t miss out on being part of our record setting year!

7) Walk Among the Shadows 2019 - October 17th - 20th & October 24th - 27th

Eastern Cemetery, 224 Congress Street, Portland

If you dare, visit with seven spirits who will arise and tell of the perils and promises of separation from Massachusetts and attaining Maine statehood. Spirits Alive is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Portland’s historic Eastern Cemetery, established in 1668. The oldest historic landscape in the city, the cemetery is home to around 4,000 interred souls.

8) Stroll Haunted Yarmouth - October 18th - 19th & October 25th - 26th

Old Meeting House, 25 Hillside Street, Yarmouth, Maine

Royal River Community Players, Yarmouth Village Improvement Society and Yarmouth Historical Society present the second annual Stroll Haunted Yarmouth, a series of fictional stories (including one about a well-known bun cart?) based on historical facts surrounding Hillside Cemetery, the Old Meeting House, and the Reverend Thomas Green House.

9) Burning of Falmouth - October 18, 1775

No time to visit a farm or historic site? Read about the destruction of Portland, then known as Falmouth, on this day in 1775. Or watch this video by Preservation Award winning photo journalist Troy R. Bennett. The aftermath of the Burning of Falmouth was astounding. The entire town was burned, at least 300 buildings were destroyed, and almost half of the population, was left homeless just as winter began to set in.

A colonial Committee of Conference, consisting of Thomas Lynch, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Harrison, happened to be with General George Washington when news of the Burning of Falmouth reached him. The Committee noted in their official report to the Continental Congress that every enlisted person from Falmouth begged leave to return home and find lodging and food for their families.  While it was, “too reasonable Request, to be refused,” the bombing was a frightening premonition of what could happen in the near future. Rumor was the British Navy anticipated bombarding coastal New England towns, which could lead to the resignations of thousands of soldiers. The Burning of Falmouth, along with the arrival of the King of England’s declaration that the colonies were in open rebellion, led directly to Congress establishing the Continental Navy in an effort to combat the British at sea during the Revolutionary War.

10)Tour the Tate House in Historic Stroudwater

Tate House Museum, 1267 Westbrook Street, Portland

Visit the historic home of Maine’s last Mast Agent and learn how New England forests fueled colonial industry, strengthened the British Royal Navy, and sparked rebellion.

11) Fright Night at the Grange - October 19

Freeport Harraseeket Grange No. 9, 13 Elm Street, Freeport

Gather all your ghouls and ghosts for a night of dancing at Freeport Harraseeket Grange No. 9. Put on your best costume and help support the Freeport, Pownal, and Durham Educational Foundation. Freeport Harraseeket Grange #9, established in 1874, was among the first subordinate Granges in the State of Maine and the nation. The grange is now housed in a barn-like former horse stall building in Freeport, Maine, that has been used since 1903.

12) Longfellow’s Haunted House - October 21st - 31st

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, 489 Congress Street, Portland

Based on Longfellow’s poem “Haunted Houses” this tour evokes the various family members that died in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House over its long history. Two tours will be offered this year; one for families and one for adults.

13) The Complete City Imagined Exhibit Opening - October 26th

University of New England Art Gallery, 716 Stevens Avenue, Portland

If you’re full of apple cider and you’ve had enough of Halloween, join our friends at the Portland Society for Architecture to celebrate a collection of work representing Portland's past and future possibilities. The exhibition will include displays of historic maps of Portland from the Osher Map Library, maps from "Mapping Portland: The Complete City," submissions from the PSA's design competition "The Complete City: Imagined," along with adjacent programming related to The Complete City. 

14) Identifying Kit & Catalog Houses from the Early 20th Century - October 29th

Safford House, 93 High Street, Portland

Join us to learn the history of kit homes in America and Maine and learn how to spot them on your own!

The American Dream of home ownership was fostered by reformers, developers, and building material companies in the early 20th century. This program will discuss the history of kit home manufacturing in this country and illustrate the variety of styles available from manufacturers and the various ways you can identify a kit home. 

The program will conclude with an hour long walking tour of the Oakdale Neighborhood where you’ll get to practice your skills in identifying kit homes that Landmarks believes it has identified in the neighborhood.

15) How to Uncover the Story of Your Historic Building - October 30th

Safford House, 93 High Street, Portland

Every home has a story if you know how to uncover it. Join Landmarks for this program where you will learn how to research the history of an historic home and share its story.  During the classroom portion of the class you will learn to identify architectural styles and to understand the historical background of residential buildings in Portland.

The program will conclude with a walking tour of the State Street neighborhood for hands-on practice in identifying building styles while exploring one of Portland’s oldest and most distinctive neighborhoods.

And if it’s a rainy October day, visit your local library (it’s probably in a historic building) and check out Wildfire Loose: The Week Maine Burned by Joyce Butler. It tells the harrowing story of 1947, when from October 13 to October 27, firefighters tried to fight 200 Maine fires, consuming a quarter of a million acres of forest, wiped out nine entire towns, and severely damage much of historic Bar Harbor. The Maine fires destroyed 851 homes and 397 seasonal cottages, leaving 2,500 people homeless. I read it when it was first published in 1979 and it started me on my journey to learn more about Maine history and its architectural past.

Happy October!

Julie Ann Larry

Forest Ave. Matters

Forest Ave. Matters

As part of our National Preservation Month (and beyond) we are using social media to highlighting the 15 buildings proposed by the City of Portland to be designated as locall significant buildings. The designation includes a number of auto-related commercial buildings as well as buildings significant to the development of the Woodfords Corner neighborhood like Odd Fellows Hall and the former Deering fire station, now occupied by Big Sky Bakery. Find us on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #Forestavehillmatters along with the national hashtag #thisplacematters. We hope that you will follow along! We will add each image from social media on this page as the month unfolds. Add your Forest Ave memories in the comments below!

Forest Avenue has always been a critical transportation

Munjoy Hill Matters

May is National Preservation Month which happens to coincide with the reveal of the city’s proposed historic district on Munjoy Hill. One way that we are celebrating this month is by sharing photos and histories of houses on Munjoy Hill on instagram and facebook using the hashtag #munjoyhillmatters along with the national hashtag #thisplacematters . We hope that you will follow along! We will add each image from social media on this page as the month unfolds.

Landmarks supports designation of a Munjoy Hill Local Historic District with boundaries focused on the Eastern Promenade and North Street. These resources tell the story of the Munjoy Hill neighborhood’s development over a broad period of time and retain significant levels of architectural integrity. Munjoy Hill's historic buildings are significant features of the neighborhood's streetscapes and help make the area a desirable and attractive place to live, work and play. It is necessary to preserve the character defining buildings that reflect the neighborhood's development over a broad period of time and the role the buildings' residents played in the social and cultural history of the neighborhood, before more of the Hill's historic identity is lost. Read more about Landmarks’ position here.

All contemporary photographs are from Greater Portland Landmarks or the City of Portland.

All 1924 images are from the City of Portland’s 1924 tax photos which can be found on The Maine Memory Network.

Landmarks' Next Executive Director

Landmarks' Next Executive Director

To mark the first day of national Preservation Month (May 1), Greater Portland Landmarks’ Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Sarah Hansen as the organization’s next Executive Director. Sarah will start her post on June 17th to allow her to overlap with the long time outgoing executive Director, Hilary Bassett, who retires on June 30th.  Sarah joins the organization at an exciting and critical time for strong historic preservation advocacy in greater Portland as it faces unprecedented development pressure.

 Jane Batzell, chair of the search committee said, “we are ecstatic that Sarah will be Landmark’s next leader. Throughout the interview process she shared an invigorating passion for preservation and community engagement that was infectious.”

The Trade Show Files: The Unique Offerings of Historic Homes with Town & Shore Associates

The Trade Show Files: The Unique Offerings of Historic Homes with Town & Shore Associates

The 2019 Old House Trade Show is just one week away, so we’re sitting down with a few REALTORS® participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying or selling an older home. Below, read our conversation with Town & Shore Associates, LLC, a local real estate brokerage and sponsor of the Old House Trade Show.

The Trade Show Files: Considerations When Selling and Renovating Your Older Home with Tom Landry

The Trade Show Files: Considerations When Selling and Renovating Your Older Home with Tom Landry

With the 2019 Old House Trade Show rapidly approaching, we’re taking a moment to chat with a few REALTORS® participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn about what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying, selling, or renovating an older home. Read our conversation with Tom Landry below, of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration. Both Benchmark and CornerStone are Preservation Sponsors at Landmarks, and the Benchmark team will be joining us as a Corner Sponsor for this year’s show.

The Founding Women of Portland's Preservation Movement

The Founding Women of Portland's Preservation Movement

By Daphne Howland

 Women have been a critical force not only in saving key buildings but also in changing the city’s approach to its historic fabric.

 The American historic preservation movement owes much to women’s volunteer efforts, and the Portland area is no different. The effort often recognized as the first major preservation movement was Ann Pamela Cunningham’s campaign to save George Washington’s Virginia farm, Mount Vernon.

 Today we accept the importance of keeping George Washington’s home as a national treasure, but that wasn’t true in the 19th century when the farm’s future was in doubt. Cunningham formed the Mount Vernon’s Ladies Association, which includes a regent and vice regent from each state and oversees the farm to this day, after receiving a note from her mother in 1853 that read, “If the men of America have seen fit to allow the home of its most respected hero to go to ruin, why can't the women of America band together to save it?”

 “Of course, what we need to remember about women in preservation is that women have been crucial to the movement since the beginning in this country,” says Earle Shettleworth. “In Portland, there’s a long tradition of women playing pivotal roles in the preservation of our past. Probably the first person we would cite would be Ann Longfellow Pierce.”

Edith Sills, right, Bowdoin College Archives image no. 4317

The Trade Show Files: A Realtor's Perspective with Erin of Gardner Real Estate Group

The Trade Show Files: A Realtor's Perspective with Erin of Gardner Real Estate Group

With the 2019 Old House Trade Show just weeks away, we sat down with REALTORS participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn about what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying or selling an older home. Read our conversation with Erin Oldham below, who represents Gardner Real Estate Group, a long time supporter of Landmarks and sponsor of this year’s Trade Show.

Landmarks: How is the sales process different when working with an older home?

Erin: From the listing side, there is a bit more preparation including researching the provenance and story of the home.  When I walk through a home for the first time, I am very focused on documenting the unique features of the home as well as the upgrades in the kitchen/bathroom and all of the systems.  Showings work a bit differently as well: I present the story of the home to the buyers and point out the special features.  It is worth having buyers understand that beyond just purchasing a home, they could become part of the story of the home.  I believe knowing the story enhances the value of the home and also introduces the buyer into the world where stewardship of a home matters and contributes to long-term value.

The Trade Show Files: Ask the Experts

So you have an old house - now what?

A while back Greater Portland Landmarks invited five old house experts (Marc Bagala, Les Fossel, Julie Larry, Arron Sturgis, and Peter Taggart - bios after the conversation) to comment on how to prioritize your plan for any major work on your older or historic home. We asked them how to incorporate plans for sustainability and energy efficiency, how to stay on budget, how to prepare, and more. Here’s how they answered.

Peter Taggart, Marc Bagala, Les Fossel, and Julie Larry, will all be at the 2019 Old House Trade Show, March 30-31, where you can ask these experts more questions about your house. Get Tickets.

What is the first thing to consider?

Julie Larry: The first thing is to determine what are the important features of the house that should be maintained as part of the project, so that a home doesn’t lose its special character.

Peter Taggart: Research, to understand the history of the structure, the materials used, and the condition they’re in.

Arron Sturgis: A complete assessment of the home is the best way to increase appreciation and understanding of it. It provides the basis for knowing the condition, the materials within it, how it was built, and what changes were made over time.

Les Fossel: Ask yourself: do you have the resources (time, money, skills, energy and commitment) to take the project to completion? Don’t trust yourself on this, ask for experienced advice.

Marc Bagala: I want to be sensitive to the owners, their love for their home, and what they’re looking for. I try to design my work around that and their budget. My interview process is to ask a lot of questions.

How do you balance historic preservation with sustainability and energy efficiency?

The Green Book and Portland

The Green Book and Portland

Did you know that Portland was included in this well-known guide book for African Americans travelling in the mid-twentieth century?

The guide book was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against non-whites was widespread. Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could afford to do so, but when travelling faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of the United States. He also founding a travel agency.