Maine Historical Society



Press Releases

Brown Library Renovation and Expansion Campaign

April 1, 2010

Brown Library Renovation and Expansion Campaign

MHS is pleased to announce the completion of its Library Expansion and Renovation Campaign with $9.8 million raised. We deeply appreciate the generosity of all our supporters and would like to recognize the hard work of our capital campaign committee led by Campaign Chair Debbie Reed. MHS received several prestigious grants during the campaign including a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a $400,000 Challenge Grant from the Kresge Foundation. Named by for John Marshall Brown, who helped advise on the design and construction of the original library, and his wife Alida Carroll, the Research Library contains one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of materials related to Maine history in the state.

The completed campaign has helped MHS provide much-needed structural repairs, fire and security systems, upgraded technology, and improved access and amenities for patrons. The $9.8 million renovation and expansion includes a new 13,000 sq. ft. wing that provides expanded storage, climate-control, work areas for staff, and a home for the Maine Memory Network. The renovation preserves the historic character of the building yet transforms the Library into a state-of-the-art research facility, providing first-rate care of the collections we hold in trust for all the people of Maine. The Library re-opened to the public in March 2009. Read more information about the architects and the campus master plan.

The story of the Library is significant. In 1901, Anne Longfellow Pierce, sister of the famed 19th century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow left the family homestead to the Maine Historical Society in her will. The home had been built by Anne and Henry's grandparents, Revolutionary War General Peleg Wadsworth and his wife Zilpah and housed three generations of the family. Anne's bequest stipulated that the house—increasingly sought out by fans of the legendary poet—was to be opened to the public as a museum run by the Maine Historical Society. It became one of the first house museums and literary shrines in the nation. Her will also directed that a Library be built on the 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 built in 1907.

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.