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Portland History : Scandinavian Communities

In our continuing series of cultural snapshots of Portland’s colorful history, this week offers a few archival images that accentuate the presence of Scandinavians here in the city. For centuries, there have been communities of Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes in the Portland area- settling here in Maine from northern Europe. The following photographs, from the Portland Press Herald Still-Film Negative Collection, which is now part of the Portland Public Library Archives, demonstrate some of the Scandinavian traditions and institutions that continue today. The archival collection is in-process, though here are a few discoveries.

This image is from 1960, with a great example of traditional Scandinavian dress.

Portland’s Bayside was the early center of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish communities. There were churches on Mayo Street (Saint Ansgar), Elm Street (First Lutheran), and Wilmot Street (Scandinavian Baptist), in close proximity and maintaining their native languages. Here is a wedding in 1937.

From 1953, with Danish Christmas cookies forming a tower- called Kransekaker.

Portland’s famous Nissen Bakery (at left) on Washington Avenue, in its 90-year presence on Munjoy Hill, was founded in 1900 by Jürgen Jepsen Nissen- who immigrated from Denmark.

A little further reading about the J.J. Nissen Bakery- and its neighboring streets- can be found here.

In this photo, taken immediately after World War II, in 1948, two Norwegian women display traditional as well as patriotic symbols.

Immanuel Lutheran Church, at 14 Sherman Street, in Parkside- taken in 1962.

The old Saint Ansgar Lutheran Church, 10 Mayo Street, in Bayside. The Munjoy Hill reservoir water tower is in the background. This was taken in 1955.

Members of the Saint Ansgar community, in 1961, breaking ground for their new church (which merged in the Immanuel Lutheran Church from Parkside) at Rosemont Corner. This was taken in 1961.

Photo taken June 11, 1962 at the opening of the Saint Ansgar Church, 515 Woodford Street (Rosemont Corner). The parish will observe its 50th anniversary at this address in the coming year.

posted: , by Abraham Schechter
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Seniors | Portland History
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