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Portland History : Scandinavian Communities

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

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.

Back to school

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Portland History

Yes, it’s that time of the year- for nursery school children and post-grad university students alike, along with all of us that teach and support the learning process. To commemorate the Back to School season, the Library wishes good studies (bonnes études!) with a few selections from the Archives in the Portland Room.

Getting on the bus begins the journey! This was taken in 1955.


“Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!” Shopping for school supplies at Grant’s Department Store, downtown Portland, in 1958.

Pupils’ desks being readied for the new school year. Photo taken in 1958.

Portland High School students in their scholastic finery, in 1956.

On the steps at Portland High School- in more casual fashion. This was taken in 1956.

North School children at work! This was taken in September 1974, at the Munjoy Hill school.

Portland History and Children’s Theatre of Maine

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Library Collections | Online Services | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

Children’s Theatre of Maine, beginning in 1924, is America’s oldest continuing children’s theatrical company. Some of their earliest performances were at the Elm Theatre which stood where the eastern portion of the Portland Public Library now stands! Children’s Theatre has a history filled with colorful highlights and milestones, and these are preserved in the Archives in the Portland Room and in the Library’s Digital Commons digitized collections.

CTM is now part of the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, on Free Street.

The image below shows a poster from a Children’s Theatre play in 1954, performed at Deering Oaks park.

The pictures immediately above and below were taken in 1948 (on Kodachrome film), at Redbank Village. The Children’s Theatre trailer stage even drew the attention of Life Magazine, and it was towed to Central Park for performances by the kids from Portland to New York audiences!

The above image shows a captivated audience in the 1940s, and the image below shows a Children’s Theatre member named Tony Shalhoub, helping a younger actor in 1975. Children’s Theatre history includes many celebrity actors and supporters- the latter including Bette Davis and Tony Randall.

Two images from the late 1990s – early 2000s: Above: an outdoor performance in Falmouth; Below: “The Emporer’s New Clothes,” performed at Nathan Clifford School.

Through their continuing history, Children’s Theatre has benefited from its energetic mentors. Below is an image from the early 1990s, as two young actors review a script with Lisa DiFranza.

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