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.)
On your next visit to the Library, come see our new Aerial Portland photographic exhibit- in the 2nd floor Reading Room. These images represent a portion of our newly-accessioned Portland Press Herald Still Film Negative Collection, now being processed in the Archives, in the Portland Room. With the larger collection is a body of aerial photo negatives, made by the Press Herald with the newspaper’s own plane, mostly in the 1950s.
The exhibit spotlights the neighborhoods of Portland, and the image below shows Congress Square, circa 1960.
Click on the image to enlarge the photo, and see how many landmarks you can recognize!
Here are some pictures from a recent Portland Room exhibit of educational books from our Special Collections. Among our niche collections is an array of children’s and pedagogical books.
This display shows readers and (at right) a math book. The New England Primer (at top) is from 1777.
An illustrated book about Portland schools, from 1932, includes classroom photos and an image of Deering High School’s entrance on the cover.
Geographic travels with a large foldout map.
A Children’s Primer at left, and an early-19th century math book at right.