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Part II: Arts Flourish in Portland

William Pitt Fessenden by Charles Akers, ca. 1865

William Pitt Fessenden by Charles Akers, ca. 1865

Item 18883 info
Maine Historical Society

Charles "Karl" Akers (1835-1906) was born in Hollis and became an active sculptor in Portland and writer for the Atlantic Monthly.

Like other artists in post-Civil War Portland, he struggled to make his living solely from the community.

In 1897, the artist recalled, "In 1866 came the great fire, which in one wild night destroyed all the business part of the city and changed the fate of many individuals and families. All my possessions were burned, most of my 'commissions' repudiated or forgotten, and I found myself in a rather forlorn condition, nobody caring to dally with the fine arts in the fierce activity which sprang up to rebuild and restore."

Akers left Portland for Cambridge where he received new commissions and became a minor member of a group of artists associated with James Russell Lowell and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Eventually, artists from New York, Boston and elsewhere with established reputations found Casco Bay and the coast of Maine a pressure-free, inexpensive environment in which to set up summer studios.

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