Maine Historical Society



Press Releases

The Brown Library at Maine Historical Society to Reopen on March 24 after 2-year Renovation and Expansion

March 19, 2009

Portland, Maine, March 19, 2009 – Maine Historical Society is pleased to announce the reopening of the Alida Carroll and John Marshall Brown Library at 485 Congress Street, Portland, Maine, on Tuesday, March 24, 2009, following the completion of a 2-year, $9.5 million renovation and expansion. While the historic character of the 1907 building has been lovingly preserved, the library has been transformed into a state-of-the-art research facility, providing first-rate care of the collections. A new 13,000 sqare foot wing provides expanded storage, climate-control, and a home for the Maine Memory Network. Landscaping and planting the Longfellow Garden will be completed in the spring.

In her 1901 will, Anne Longfellow Pierce, sister of 19th-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, directed that a library be built on her property to the rear of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House as a permanent home for the Maine Historical Society. Designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry and Anne’s nephew and a prominent New England architect of the time, the library was opened in 1907 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Newly named for General John Marshall Brown and his wife Alida Carroll Brown, the library contains one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of materials related to Maine history in the state. John Marshall and Alida Carroll Brown were prominent figures in Maine business, political, and cultural life in the 19th century. John Marshall Brown was also a Civil War hero, and a driving force at MHS who played a key role in the design and building of the library.

The renovation of the original building and the 13,000 square foot expansion have addressed structural repairs, fire and security systems, upgraded technology, and improved access and amenities for patrons. A grand public celebration is scheduled for Saturday, June 27, 2009. It will include an open house and tours of the new library, ceremonies, talks, and the launch of the new MHS Museum exhibit featuring treasures and wonders of the Brown Library at Maine Historical Society. Complete details will be released soon.

Architects for the library project were Schwartz/Silver Architects of Boston, noted for their renovations of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor and the Lewiston Public Library. Consigli Construction Company of Portland and Massachusetts provided construction management; their recent work include projects at Portland’s City Hall and the Victoria Mansion. TD Banknorth provided financial services

For more information:

Maine Historical Society
489 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101

Maine Historical Society preserves and shares Maine's story to enrich life in contemporary Maine.