Installed at Maine Historical Society from March 16 to May 21, 2022. Curated by Tilly Laskey, Maine Historical Society Curator, with the support of Jamie Rice, MHS Deputy Director, and William David Barry, MHS Research Historian. Barry is the author of "The Mind Still on the Search," a history of Maine Historical Society slated for publication in the journal Maine History.
MHS's first home was the Maine State House in 1822.
Two years after separating from Massachusetts, Maine leaders—many who were part of the push for statehood—also separated from Massachusetts Historical Society, creating the Maine Historical Society (MHS) in 1822. Legislation signed on February 5, 1822 positioned MHS as the third-oldest state dedicated historical organization in the nation.
MHS was a nomadic institution in our first 79 years, often sharing space with other organizations. First housed at the Senate Chamber in the State House at Portland, MHS moved to Bowdoin College in Brunswick in 1823. By 1880, MHS was back in Portland at the City Government Building, along with the Portland Institute and Public Library. MHS and the Public Library moved to the newly constructed Baxter Building in Portland in 1889.
Anne Longfellow Pierce bequeathed the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and property on Congress Street ito the Maine Historical Society in 1901.
Anne Longfellow Pierce’s bequest of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and family land in 1901 allowed MHS to cease wandering and build our headquarters on Congress Street. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House opened to the public in 1901 as a one of the nation's first house museums, and in 1907, a newly constructed library opened behind the House. MHS purchased the adjacent Day's Jewelry building on Congress Street in the 1990s and renovated the space into museum galleries and administrative offices.
MHS purchased the former Day's Jewelry building in the 1990s and renovated the space into museum galleries and administrative offices.
As Maine Historical Society reflects on what it means to be a library, historic house, and museum at 200 years old, we acknowledge our former locations, and the leaders who guided our organization through times of change, creating the MHS we observe in 2022.
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