Before the angular bank building stood at what is now 1 Monument Square, the eastern end of the Square was home to Edwards & Walker hardware store. This was the vantage point for the view below, looking west along Congress Street. The photo was taken in 1935, using a glass-plate 4×5″ camera. Before the invention of cellulose film, glass provided the needed transparent surface for photographic emulsions.
This particular photograph preserves a very brief moment, recorded 75 years ago, but the image continues to inform us!
At the right side of the image, you can see where the Library is today.
To help counteract this hot summer weather, the Portland Room posting this week features a refreshing iced manuscript record. This image was published in the Evening Express on January 21, 1955, and is part of the Library’s Portland Press Herald Still Film Negative Collection.
The current exhibit inside the Portland Room is about the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association, which has been gathering in this city since 1815. Their basis was the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, championed in Boston by Paul Revere.
The Maine Charitable was founded by industrialists and those involved in manufacturing and crafts, the MCMA evolved into a general cultural resource- with a popular library- that opens membership to any interested person. Their best-known symbol is Mechanics Hall, which stands at the corner of Congress Street and Casco Street in downtown Portland.
The exhibit in the Portland Room offers a brief and visual narrative of the roots of the MCMA, Mechanics Hall, and some of its illustrious members. Artifacts for this special exhibit are from Portland Public Library collections- and additional materials have been lent to us by the MCMA, along with reproductions from the Boston Athenaeum. Come visit! The show will be up through the summer and autumn.
Mechanics Hall, built in 1857. In the wake of the Great Fire of 1866, Mechanics Hall served as a temporary city hall for Portland.
Installation of the current exhibit in the Portland Room. The framed broadside is from 1859.
The Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association began in 1762. Paul Revere had been a president of the Association.
Among the members of the Maine Charitable were carriage-makers, metalsmiths, bookbinders, manufacturers such as E.T. Burrowes (which had been on Free Street), and architects such as Francis Fassett (designer of the old Portland Public Library’s Baxter Building), and John Calvin Stevens (who taught free drawing classes at Mechanics Hall).
More reminders of MCMA members, lighthouses, and tools.
A special loan for this exhibit is a 1920s Remington typewriter from craftsman Tom Furrier, owner of Cambridge Typewriter (Arlington, Mass.)