Portland is the largest city in Maine it is bursting with history, with a quintessential Maine harbor and grand architecture Portland had a little bit of everything. Last week my brother and I grabbed our cameras, hopped in his Tacoma with Gaelic Storm and The Greatest Showman soundtrack blaring, and were off to explore this lovely city.
Our first and only planned stop was the Portland Museum of Art. I found admittance for two or $13 on Groupon so I thought it would be a great chance to see what was new. We usually end up here once or twice a year and for the most part not many changes from time to time, they do have one gallery that changes regularly and this time it as an exhibition of Clarence H. White’s work.
Clarence White was a prominent pictorialist photographer, his passion for photography started in 1893 and continued until his death in 1925. Although he was from Ohio he and his family spent a good deal of time in Maine, and he founded a summer photography school here in 1910.
By far my favorite part of the museum is the original section of the McLellan House.
Originally founded as the Portland Society of Art, the Museum used a variety of exhibition spaces until 1908. That year Mrs. Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat bequeathed her three-story mansion, now known as the McLellan House, and sufficient funds to create a gallery in memory of her late husband, Lorenzo de Medici Sweat. Noted New England architect John Calvin Stevens designed the L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, which opened to the public in 1911.
After spending a few hours studying paintings and feeling very cultured, we started a search for lunch, once we had wandered a bit, had an interesting chat with a homeless man, we found POM’S THAI.
POM’S has a couple of different locations in the Portland area, on in South Portland, and one here in the Old Port, or Downtown area. we have eaten at the other location several times but this one is a little out of our normal loop.
We both got the Crispy Pad Thai which was delicious.
After lunch, it was time for Starbucks!
There are four or five Starbucks in the Downtown Portland area, but my personal favorite the one in the H. H. Hay building on the intersection of Congress and Free Street built in 1826.
While we didn’t go inside, we explored the gardens of the Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow House, built in 1785 by General Peleg Wadsworth, Longfellow grandfather.
Longfellow Gardens was restored in 1924-1926 by the Longfellow Garden Club but was only shown to those who paid for a full house tour, in 1980 the club members finally convinced the Maine Historical Society to open the garden to the public. Now the Colonial Revival style garden is an oasis peace and green in the center downtown Portland.
Portland is rising in the foodie scene, with its many cafes, restaurants, and pubs around every corner and tucked down every ally. There are walking tours from Maine Foodie Tours which is something I would really like to do this summer.
Portland City Hall occupies much of an entire city block, bounded by Congress, Myrtle, and Chestnut Streets, and Cumberland Avenue. Its original main portion is a U-shaped granite structure, the U open to Congress Street. The central portion is three stories in height, with a doomed mansard roof fronted by a low balustrade. A tower, 200 feet in height rises from the center of this section. Ground floor windows are set in rounded openings, a feature continued around the wings. There are three entrances, accessed via a broad set of stairs; the central one is topped by the city seal. The wings are two stories in height, with projecting colonnades of Tuscan columns. The wings are covered by hip roofs, with a bracketed cornice extending around.
On the upper story, the ceiling was really low and the door looked to be about four feet tall and made me think of Alice in Wonderland.
Myrtle Street also includes Merrill Auditorium, a 2,000 seat performance venue. The organ it houses was the second largest in the world at the time of its construction in 1912 the Hermann Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, donated by Cyrus Curtis and built by the Austin Organ Company.
Our final stop was Gelato Fiasco! I was introduced to Gelato Fiasco by my aunt when she took me to the original gelateria in Brunswick and I fell in love. They make the best Gelato I’ve ever had, so I told Jake that we had to find the one in Portland.
Although I have spent quite a bit of time in Portland through the years, I have never taken a whole day just to explore with no particular destination in mind. It has really endeared this city to me even more, learning some of its histories and taking it the atmosphere has really made me appreciate that you don’t have to travel far have new experiences and learn new things.
Thanks so much to Jacob for joining me on this fun day out! Be sure to check out his Instagram, @jmlawrencephotography see his picture from Portland.