Maine Historical Society



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Maine Historical Society Launches $9 Million MHS Library Capital Campaign and $400,000 Kresge Foundation Challenge

February 27, 2008

Portland, Maine, February 27, 2008 –Phil Jordan, chairman of Maine Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, will publicly launch the $9 million MHS Library Capital Campaign today. Maine’s First Lady Karen Baldacci will offer remarks addressing the importance of the project. The date is significant for the kick-off event: it’s the 101st anniversary of the Library’s opening and the 201st anniversary of the birth of 19th-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whose family is responsible for the MHS Library being where it is. Following the announcements, champagne and birthday cake will be shared with guests.

Deborah Reed, capital campaign chair and past president of the MHS Board of Trustees, said, “a hard working team of volunteers, board members, and staff has quietly raised $7.5 million. Included in that sum is a gift of $1,000,000 from an anonymous donor to name the Library after General John Marshall Brown and his wife Alida Carroll, a family that played an important role in local, state, and national history, not to mention the success of MHS itself.”

Reed will announce that MHS has been awarded a $400,000 Challenge Grant from the prestigious Kresge Foundation. “The most challenging part is still to come: raising another $1.5 million. By entering the public phase of this fundraising effort we will be asking for local, state, and regional support from the community at large and all those who love history and recognize the need to preserve it for the generations that follow us,” said Reed. The award will only be granted if MHS reaches its goal of $9 million by December 31, 2008.

Kresge’s Challenge Grant Program is designed to assist nonprofit organizations in strengthening leadership and financial support. “At Kresge we seek to support the country’s finest organizations with challenge grants to enable them to make the most of their campaigns,” said Elaine D. Rosen, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kresge Foundation.

Richard D’Abate, Executive Director of the Maine Historical Society, added, “This is a tremendously exciting and necessary project that will raise the profile of the Maine Historical Society and make a difference to the entire state of Maine. It will create a state-of-the-art facility for the preservation of Maine’s historical records. The project will ensure better care of our collections and better support for all our school programs and statewide Internet services.”

The MHS Library contains one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of materials related to Maine history in the state, and is used regularly by researchers, historians, genealogists, teachers, students, lawyers, architects, and many others from across Maine and the country. One of its most important recent achievements has been the development of the Maine Memory Network, the Society’s nationally recognized statewide digital museum that has become a critical piece of the state’s cultural, educational, and technological infrastructure. It has made it possible for the Maine Historical Society to become a truly statewide organization, providing critical resources, meaningful programs, and invaluable support to schools, historical societies, libraries, and individuals in every corner of Maine.

The renovation of the original building and the 13,000 square foot expansion will effect structural repairs, address collections care and storage issues, upgrade technology, and improve access and amenities for patrons. Construction on the $9 million project is underway and is expected to take up to sixteen months. The renovated and expanded Library will re-open in the spring of 2009. The Library, located behind the Longfellow House at 485 Congress Street, was opened in 1907 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the Library building is under renovation, its contents were moved and its patrons are being served at an alternate location, 510 Congress Street, less than a block away from the Maine Historical Society. The Longfellow House, MHS Museum, Museum Shop, and administrative offices will remain unaffected by the Library move.

Architects for the Library project are Schwartz/Silver Architects of Boston, noted for their renovations of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, the Lewiston Public Library, and the Boston Athenaeum. Consigli Construction Company of Portland and Massachusetts will provide construction management; their recent work includes Walker Art Museum at Bowdoin College, and projects at Portland’s City Hall and the Victoria Mansion. TD Banknorth has provided financial services.

The Maine Historical Society preserves the heritage and history of Maine: the stories of Maine people, the traditions of Maine communities, and the record of Maine’s place in a changing world. MHS consists of the Research Library, the MHS Museum, the Longfellow House, and the Maine Memory Network (

For more information, including digital files of architectural images, please contact: Maine Historical Society 489 Congress Street Portland, ME 04101 207-774-1822;

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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.