2017 Places in Peril Announced

2017 Places in Peril Announced

Concerned that a number of historic properties in the Portland area are in danger of being irreparably altered or destroyed, we announced our 4th list of Places in Peril, to call attention to the threats facing character-defining, historically-significant properties in greater Portland. This year, Landmarks has identified seven buildings or areas that are at critical points where they could be permanently lost or diminished.

Executive Director, Hilary Bassett said, these properties help define greater Portland. In every case, the properties we’ve identified are...

Woodford Food & Beverage: Resuscitating an Old Classic

Woodford Food & Beverage: Resuscitating an Old Classic

As they were rolling up their sleeves to start interior renovations of their future restaurant, Woodford Food & Beverage, Birch Shambaugh asked Fayth Preyer what she hoped to discover once they started peeling away decades of office use in the building at 660 Forest Avenue in Portland.  She let herself dream, “what if there were terrazzo floors?!”

Adaptive re-use is a strategy promoted by historic preservation that encourages developers to turn historic buildings into...

Heritage for a 40 Foot Lot

Heritage for a 40 Foot Lot

Written by Charles Hartfelder
Photos by Heath Paley

Today the midcentury modern look is all around us. As the architecture of the modernist movement has come of age, its historical significance is now eligible to receive all the benefits of historic designation. Its unique situation at the crux of modern homebuilding innovation in the 20th century will be remembered as the forbearer of the open-plan ideal of the 21st.

Preservation Month Matters

Preservation Month Matters

Did you know that May is National Preservation month?  We are excited there is a whole month to celebrate what we do every day!   In historic cities like ours it can be easy to take our charming historic downtown for granted.  Why would anyone want to destroy it?   But, before there were citizen groups like Greater Portland Landmarks, buildings were unappreciated, abandoned, and torn down.  This was happening in Portland,  throughout Maine, and allover the country.  Now, not only does our organization exist, but there are city ordinances, historic districts, state and national historic tax credits, and national organizations. However, nothing is safe.  As Portland grows new areas are threatened, and with every new federal tax plan, historic tax credits become vulnerable. A month devoted to Historic Preservation reminds us how far we've come, where we are going, and how much is left to be done.  

Below are some links, resources, and tools to get you excited about Historic Preservation.  Join us!

South Portland Public Library Shines Bright

South Portland Public Library Shines Bright

When Davis took over he immediately wanted to make the building more inviting and prominent to the community.  With little money in the budget he did what he could.  In 2007-8 he asked the DPW to rip out the giant over grown rhododendrons that blocked the sunlight from pouring in the front glass wall.  This also let the light from the library pour out over the little hill that was built around it, making it so distinguishable from a distance. This simple collaboration of city resources highlighted the architecture of the building and made it easier to make the case for more restoration of the library. “Numbers increased drastically” Davis said, “the increased visibility of the building alone, brought more people into it. Period.” Soon after the city started chipping away at other projects.  Next the building’s distinctive concrete was preserved.

Mechanics' Hall

Mechanics' Hall

Mechanics' Hall, built from 1857-9 at 519 Congress Street, Portland, is considered to be the finest work of Thomas J. Sparrow, Portland’s first native architect. Built from Biddeford granite and stone this Italianate style building is adorned with architectural features that highlight the community for which it was built, Maine Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA).  The keystones above each arched window on the front façade are carved with the heads of Vulcan and of Archimedes, and the arm of Labor. The storefronts on the first floor were intended for association members to lease for their own businesses.  The core of the original design was to create a permanent home for their library that had been moved between different locations around Portland to accommodate its growing size and use.  

Important Places of Portland's African-American History

Important Places of Portland's African-American History

Portland’s Black Community has been shaping the city’s history, landscapes, and architecture since the city’s founding.  As a major port city, Portland was both a stop on the Underground Railroad and home to a thriving community of free black people who worked the waterfront or worked for the commercial railroads.  A few of the buildings that tell their stories remain standing, primarily in the India Street Neighborhood which was founded by free blacks who prospered in Portland’s maritime economy. Those buildings are featured below. 

Valentines for Historic Preservation

Valentines for Historic Preservation

Do You Love Saving Historic Places in Greater Portland?!

Say it Loud and Proud with a Special Valentine!

We are joining the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Heart Bombing Campaign by making Valentines for our favorite historic places around Greater Portland.  Help us Spread the Love and bring attention to historic Place that need some extra Love this February in 4 Easy Steps.