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With its magnificent architecture in the heart of a bustling seaport, The Custom House was recently restored to its 1872 glory. The building has been closed to the public since 2001 except through this special 30 minute guided tour. Come see the space a young United States of America created to impress merchants from abroad as they came into Portland, one of the country's biggest, busiest and vital harbors at the time.
Wednesdays June 28, 2017 - October 25, 2017
at 10:30 am and 11:30 am
Meet on the steps of the Custom House
312 Fore Street,
Portland, ME 04101
$10 per person.
Advanced ticketing required
Elegant Federal mansions, Greek Revival residences, and high style Italianate houses grace this tour of the Spring Street Historic District, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Let one of our guides take you through this variety of ornate architectural styles as they tell the story of how Portland and its most wealthy residents put their success on display one building at a time. Along the way you will also see magnificent cathedrals and more modest housing built to accommodate the burgeoning 19th century Portland.
July 18, 2017 - October 6, 2017
Tuesdays & Fridays at 10 AM
Meet at Greater Portland Landmarks
93 High Street, Portland ME 04101
$10 per person. Advanced tickets not required,but appreciated
For day of tickets, call 207-774-5561
Every home has a story if you know how to uncover it. With this program 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...
Lecture and Reception with Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.
Learn about mid-century modern residential, religious, and civic architecture in this afternoon program and celebration. Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth will present an illustrated talk about Maine's mid-century modern domestic architecture at Holy Cross Church (1958). Afterwards, cross the street for a public reception to mark the 50th birthday of the South Portland Public Library (1967). Registration and Admission fee required for 2:30 pm lecture at Holy Cross Church, 124 Cottage Road, South Portland. 4 pm public reception at South Portland Public Library, free and open to everyone. 482 Broadway, South Portland.
Portland has eleven local historic districts and if you own property or are thinking about owning property in one of those districts do you know exactly what that means? With this program you’ll learn the guidelines that govern exterior changes along with the criteria for construction and renovations. In addition, this program will describe the designation process for landmark buildings and historic districts.
The program will conclude with a walk in...
On the Blog
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...
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...
Image courtesy of Portland Paddle
Looking for new ways to explore the Portland Area? Need something fresh and different to do with your out-of-town guests? Want to take advantage of these long summer nights? Here is a list of 10 great events this August that celebrate historic preservation and history of the Greater Portland region. Hope to see you there!
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.
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!
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, 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.
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.
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.
In Greater Portland, as in many communities across the nation, historic neighborhood school buildings have been closed due to consolidation or lack of investment in their maintenance. As a consequence many students need to be transported to distant new schools and neighborhoods have lost a vital community asset. Happily, many historic school buildings in Greater Portland have been revitalized by developers for new uses, usually housing. State and Federal Historic Tax Credits have been an important component in many of these conversions.