12 Things We Can't Wait to Do this Fall

Photo by Corey Templeton

At Greater Portland Landmarks we have closed the Portland Observatory for the season and most of our other specialty tours have finished for the year (the last Custom House Tour is on October 26).  But that doesn't mean things have gotten sleepy around here, we're just switching gears. As we get excited for our lecture series to start we realize there are lots of other events in the area for the historically-minded.  Here is what has risen to the top of our must-do list. 

1)Poetry is a good fright.

From Friday, October 21 – Monday, October 31, the Longfellow House hosts a haunted house.  They even have two levels of spooky. Based on Longfellow's poem, "Haunted Houses" the event 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. Treats and drinks will be served. For more information, tour times, and tickets go here

2)Gardens have their own historic timeline.  Where does yours fit in?

The First Lecture in the Greater Portland Landmarks Lecture series is History in Your Own Backyard: The cultural landscape seen every day and the evolving changes in garden design. The talk will be given by award winning Historic Landscape Specialist, Lucinda Brockway. October 25, 6-7 pm, Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square. This lecture is free and open to the public. A $10 donation is suggested and appreciated.  For more information about the event click hereLooking forward to the lecture?  Read the cover article from the last observer on our blog

3)*A new addition!* Forge like it's 1830 again.

On Wednesday, October 26 from 7-9 pm meet Landmarks Preservation Award Winning Blacksmith, Sam Smith. He will be at the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, at 519 Congress St, Portland, as part of their series, Markers at the Hall.  Sam carries on the tradition of the blacksmith in the original forge at the Portland Company, which dates back to the 1830’s. He will talk about a life of fire and iron. Join him for an evening celebrating the Maker community followed by wine, cake, and conversation. For more information visit their facebook page.

Read about Sam Smith's latest award winning work here.

4)Don’t let the government scare you…
or on second thought, do just that!

Visit Haunted (Portland) City Hall on Saturday, October 29th as the Portland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department shares with you the “real” history of Portland and how it was established. Tours start at 6pm and space is limited so do not delay if you want to know how things really began. This event is not intended for small children. Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 at the door (if available). For more information visit their facebook page. 

5) Let the organ tell the story.

On October 29, Experience Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde to the unforgettable sound of the Kotzschmar Organ at the Halloween Silent Film Night in Merrill Auditorium. This event is put on by the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, a Landmarks’ Preservation Award Winner honored for their herculean effort to preserve this unique element of Portland’s municipal and musical heritage. Pre-concert activities start at 6pm and the screening begins at 7:30pm.  For tickets and more information visit the FOKO site.   For more information on the preservation of the Kotzschmar organ visit our advocacy page.  

6) Pay respect to everyone’s right to vote.  

Take the Suffragists tour at the Evergreen Cemetery in Portland on Saturday, October 29th at 10:30 AM.  This tour is an introduction to Portland area women who were engaged in the decades-long effort to obtain women the right to vote. Maine women wrote, spoke and petitioned from the movement’s earliest days in the 1860s and added marching and protests in the early 20th century, all of which resulted in passage of the 19th amendment.  Gladys Doten Chapman, Doris Stevens, and Augusta Hunt are three of the people included on the tour.For more information visit the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery website. 

Actually there are a lot of unique Cemetery Tours at this time of year that we are excited to attend. If you this one isn’t enough, check out these other tours.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, South Portland - On Saturday, October 22, at 11 am join Ron Romano, the leading expert on Bartlett Adams, the areas first established stone-cutter. His new book, Early Gravestones in Southern Maine:  The Genius of Bartlett Adams (History Press, August 2016) tells the story of Adams and the other stone-cutters working in his shop. Ron will lead the group on a walk through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery to show firsthand the beautiful carvings from the Adams shop. Ron will have a supply of his book available for sale at the walk.  For more information visit the South Portland Historical Society page. 

Old Stroudwater Burying Ground, Portland - The Tate house is hosting cemetery tours and a bake sale on October 22 from 12-4pm. Apparitions will appear to tell you about the hardships of colonial life and you can see the recently cleaned graves of George and Mary Tate.  Click for more information and tickets.

Old Parish Burying Ground, Freeport - Starting October 27, there will be Ghost tours put on by the Freeport Historical Society and the Freeport Players. Tickets include chocolate. Click for more information, tour times and tickets.

Evergreen Cemetery Spiritualists Tour, Portland - October 30, 2pm @ Evergreen Cemetery. Spiritualism, a belief in the deceased’s ability and desire to communicate with the living, was a widely accepted belief system between the 1840s and the 1920s. Mid to late 19th century Portland papers contained numerous articles about its meetings and services.  Well known and respected local business leaders such as S.B. Beckett and J.S. Palmer are included on the tour.   Click for more information.

7) Trick-or-Treat!

The Portland Observatory is excited to welcome trick-or-treaters and their families on October 31 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Mrs. Emma Crosby Moody (the wife of Lemuel Moody, the founder of the tower) will be on hand to welcome visitors and hand out candy.  Be prepared for some spooky surprises at the country’s only Maritime Signal Tower.  First floor ONLY of the Observatory will be open and decorated. Take advantage of this off-season opportunity to enjoy the Portland Observatory!

8) Why move your belongings when you can move the whole house?!

On Wednesday, November 2nd witness a historic house on the move.  The Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton is moving the 1790 Nathan Church house down the street and making a celebration of it! Moving houses used to be a common alternative to building a new house (this house was first moved to its current site in 1840). In more recent times moving houses have been a necessary historic preservation tactic to save buildings from demolition.  It is only moving ¼ of a mile but it will take all day.  Check it out from 9-5.  For more information go here. 

For more information about one of Portland’s most beloved houses that was carefully moved in 1971 you can read about the Gothic House here.

9) Vote.

Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, November 8. While you are at it, learn about where you cast your ballot. Your polling place may be historic. Here are some of the older polling places in the area.  

  • Portland - District 3,Precinct 1 votes at the Woodfords Club because of construction at their normal polling location, Woodford’s Congregational Church. This constituency got special permission to vote across district lines at the Historic Woodford’s Club.  The club was started as a social club in 1913 and their doors officially opened in 1914.
  • Portland - Deering High School was constructed in 1922.
  • Orrs and Bailey Island - Old Orrs Island School House was commissioned in the 18th century and served as a school until 1960.
  • Pownal - Mallett Hall was built in 1886.
  • Scarborough - Scarborough High School was built in 1954.
  • Westbrook - Westbrook Armory was built in 1956.

These are just a few examples. Do you know the history of your polling place? Tell us about it!

 10) Landscapes need preserving too.

The second event in the Landmarks Lecture Series is one not to miss! Mark your calendar for November15, 6-7 pm, at Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library.  Why You Can’t Buy a Forest in A Can: Managing and Restoring Diversity in our Woodlands and Gardens. This talk will look at the distinctive characteristics of our eastern forests and what we can do in our own backyards and communities to restore the diversity of our woodlands. The lecture is given by William Cullina, the Director of Horticulture/Plant Curator for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. He is an award-winning leader in horticulture and botanical garden design and management. For more information visit the event page. 

11) A picture is worth a thousand words…or instagram likes.

Take a Photography Workshop  that includes a tour of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House with Brian Vanden on Tuesday, November 15, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. Learn from expert photographer Brian Vanden Brink how to best photograph special places. This tour of beloved poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home focuses on the interior of the house and will include basic instruction on how to photograph historic homes and spaces, as well as a presentation of the photographer's portfolio. (You just might pick-up some tips that could help you in the Landmarks Instagram Contest in November…stay tuned.) For tickets and more information go here. 

12) It's OK to admit it: sometimes the gift shop is the best part. 

For one day only you can visit more than a dozen museum gift shops all at one time! November 19 from 9am-4pm is Museum Shoppers Day hosted at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth by the Maine Audubon Society.  We will be there along with Maine Historical Society, The Tate House, Maine Maritime Museum, The Bowdoin College Museum of Art, The Rufus Porter Museum...and many more.  Stop by and say Hi! 

 Let us know what events you attend!