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 in the 1960's and 70's. This was happening in Portland, throughout Maine, and all over 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!
See the destruction that started Greater Portland Landmarks
When Union Station came down in 1961, Portland citizens rallied. Ever since, concerned citizens have been working to prevent anything like that from ever happening again. Look at breathtaking pictures of the destruction of Union Station and Grand Trunk Station, the impetus for Greater Portland Landmarks' founding.
Celebrate with us in person
Preservation in Action - We put together a morning of workshops geared to help owners of older homes make decisions about their older homes. Rescheduled to May 6 because of an April snowstorm, we are excited to hold this event at the beginning of preservation month.
Portland Greendrinks - May 9, Get together, drink beer, talk about Historic Preservation. Is there a better way to mark Historic Preservation Month? 511 Congress Street, $5 BYOV(bring your own vessel) or $10 corn cup, 21+.
Woodfords Corner's 2017 Celebration - May 11, Learn more about the Odd Fellows and Woodfords corner at the lecture.
Mid Mod: Be there or Be Square - June 9. Every year we hold a Historic House Gala to celebrate an era of Great Architecture, bring preservation enthusiasts together, raise money to continue Greater Portland Landmarks work, and above all, have a great time. This year we are celebrating Mid Century Modern in a classic 1961 house.
Nominate a Place in Peril - Every two years Landmarks highlights places in Greater Portland that need extra support in order for them to be saved from being lost forever. If there is a place in Greater Portland you think isn't getting the historic preservation attention it deserves- nominate it!
Check out the past list of Places in Peril, including the buildings that have been saved since going on the list!
Tell your Senator and Congressperson - that Historic Tax Credits matter to you. In the latest budget historic tax credits have been eliminated. This doesn't just affect developers, it affects everyone. Historic Preservation is a vital part of Portland's economic success. Our own Senator Susan Collins introduced a bill to save these credits. Read more about what is happening to the tax credits and why it matters on our page, the Historic Tax Credit Coalition's Page, and the National Trust's page.
Read All About It
Two books came out in the past year that speak directly to why preservation matters to everyone and in particular communities like Greater Portland. The following books have re-invigorated our staff and our all-volunteer board, reminding us why we do what we do, day in and day out:
The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks The National Trust for Historic Preservation say this about it:
"Overall, Meeks, and her coauthor, Kevin Murphy, explain the critical importance of preservation for all our communities, the ways the historic preservation field has evolved to embrace the challenges of the twenty-first century, and the innovative work being done in the preservation space now."
Why Preservation Matters by Max Page celebrates 50 years since the National Historic Preservation Act was passed. The publisher, Yale University Press says this,
"Page argues that if preservation is to play a central role in building more-just communities, it must transform itself to stand against gentrification, work more closely with the environmental sustainability movement, and challenge societies to confront their pasts."
Landmarks has published many books about Portland's history:
Take Advantage of Online Resources
Want the latest News? Do you always feel like you are hearing about projects too late to weigh in? Our Director of Advocacy, Julie Larry, attends every historic preservation board meeting (and some planning board meetings too!) and writes updates of the latest developments on her the "What's New?" page on our website.
Portland's Historic Preservation Office is now even easier to access since they redesigned their website. Here you can find information on historic districts, landmarks, the historic preservation board, and more.
In 1924 a photograph was taken of every single building in Portland for tax records. Maine Historical Society has made them available online. These photos are the touch stone for any research on Portland Houses.
On her blog, Northern Vernacular, Julie Senk takes beautiful pictures and answers all those questions that pop in your head when you drive by an interesting building and want to know what happened there.
We found Darren McLellan of Portland House Stories when he entered our fall/winter Instagram contest. It turns out he is sharing stories of old Portland Houses too.
Maine Preservation thinks about Historic Preservation from a state-wide level. They also have a "Protect & Sell" program. If you want to find a historic home to preserve - check them out.
Do you already have an older home? We have put together a directory of Maine's best historic preservation specialists to work on older homes. Before you hire just any one check out this resource for historic preservation experts.
Connect with Historic Preservation on Social Media
Find us on Facebook for local information, upcoming events, interesting stories and the latest news. Later this month look for preservation scavenger hunt clues on our page!
Want to see Greater Portland through the ages? A collection of photographers with an impressive collection of old photographs share their cache of images on Facebook, Portland Maine History 1786 to Present.
There is no way around it, buildings look good on Instagram. Find us @portlandlandmarks. We post about interesting buildings in the region, events, and even hold contests on occasion. Every week in the summer we have #Observatoryfriday when we highlight pictures taken of or from the top of the Portland Observatory! Tag us in your pictures so we can share them with the world. Don't forget to look for clues for a scavenger hunt later this month!
Be part of the national community that cares about Historic Preservation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation created the hashtag #thisplacematters. Use it when you share your favorite places and connect with others like you!
Plan A Vacation
Explore Historic Preservation all over the country! In addition to all the good and hard work they do, The National Trust for Historic Preservation also provides a list of historic places to stay and visit! You can plan your vacation around historic places that have been saved and know that your vacation dollars are doing double duty, helping you have fun and helping historic places thrive.
If you want to do a local road trip check out Historic New England. Chances are they have a house museum for you!
Of course, there is always a stay-cation - the Portland Observatory opens May 27, at 10am!