Portland: Tate House, Victoria Mansion, Old Port


A visit to Maine's largest city is a must. This tour can be as varied or as simplistic as one wishes. Our tour consisted of three stops: the Tate House (1775), the Victoria Mansion (1859), and the Old Port area. However, other houses could be visited: the Wadsworth Longfellow House (1785) and the McLellan-Swerr House (1800). These houses are all registered as National Historic Landmarks.

The Victoria Mansion, located on Park and Danforth Streets, is open mid-June through September 15, Tuesday through Saturday. Built in 1859 by Henry Austin, the celebrated New Haven architect, for Ruggles Sylvester Morse, a native of Maine, this house is the finest example of a Victorian Italian villa in the French style in this country. Of special interest are: frescoed waslls and ceilings by Giovanni Guidirini and ten Italian artists, a flying staircase with 337 hand-carved balusters of San Domingo mahogany, 10 great gold leaf mirrors from France, 7 hand-carved marble mantlepieces, a magnificent double gasolier suspended from the third floor, and many other furnishings. Victoria Mansion was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1971.

The Tate House located at 1270 Westbrook Street is open July 1 - September, Tuesday through Saturday. The Tate House was built for George Tate, a mast agent for the Royal Navy and a aleading citizen in the Portland area in 1755. It is colonial outside, like a London townhouse inside. Of special interest are: the clerestory treatment of the gambrel roof, the cove ceiling and original staircase of the hall, the exceptional panelling of the parlor and dining room, the hand-hewn timbers of the third floor, the reconstructed ell, the 18th century furniture and the letters of George Tate, Jr., First Admiral of the Russian Navy. A nomincal fee of $.50 is charged per home.

State parks in the Portland area (Portland Headlight and Two Lights) offer one excellent picknicking facilities.

One may wish to undertake a walking tour of the old Port Area to view the reconstruction and the various and varied shops.

This trip can prove to be lengthy but it is well worth the time spent and also very educational. This was one of our better trips.

Portland Area

Student Rating - 3.3
Staff Rating - 4.0

(Excerpt from The Maine Journey Field Trip Guide, 1980, p.29.)

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