The Portland Observatory in Portland, Maine

Earlier this summer, we enjoyed a few days in Portland, Maine, a beautiful seaside city on Casco Bay. One of the highlights of our visit was a guided tour of the Portland Observatory. Built in 1807 by Captain Lemuel Moody and one of the oldest marine signal stations in America, the six floor tower was used commercially until 1923 when it was abandoned. It is not technically considered a lighthouse because, although it does light up at night from the interior rooms, it does not emit light outwards. In the late 1930s, the tower was used as a lookout in World War II. The location of the observatory, and the unique octagonal shape, offered numerous views of the harbor. The Observatory went through several restorations throughout the 20th century and finally opened as a museum in 2007. 

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Playing “I Spy” at Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine

Ruggles Sylvester Morse and his wife Olive Ring Merrill Morse were prominent New Orleans hotel proprietors in the 1850s when they decided to leave the summer heat of the South and build a house in Portland, Maine. The house, built in the Italian Villa style, was finished in 1860 and the couple lived there until Morse passed away in 1893. Olive sold the mansion, and all its contents, to J.R. Libby, who lived there with his wife and five children until the parents died in the early 1920s. After the Great Depression of the 1930s, the children could not afford the upkeep and taxes on the mansion and abandoned it. William Holme, a local teacher and historian who loved the Queen Victorian era, bought it to be preserved as a museum, named after Queen Victoria.  The Victoria Mansion Museum opened in 1941 to the public, who are welcome to tour two of the four floors of the mansion. Each room has been restored to its original, mid 1860s glory, with authentic furnishings purchased by the Morse family. 

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