Sunday, March 23, 2014

Traveling with History: Road Trip through Maine

By Jeff Burns

            In the summer of 2012, my wife and I decided to do a road trip through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  The plan was into fly into Burlington Vermont, rent a car, and just go wherever the roads took us.  It was a wonderful trip even though New England was in the midst of a heat wave, with highs reaching the mid-80s.  As Georgians, it was absolutely refreshing even though the New Englanders were sweltering.
             Besides the obligatory lobster rolls and trip to the L.L. Bean Outlet, the Maine portion of our trip was centered around Portland.

            The Portland Museum of Art was a real surprise. The museum has an extensive collection extensive collection of fine and decorative arts dating from the 18th century to the present, housed in three architecturally significant buildings. Find numerous works by Americans Winslow Homer,  Louise Nevelson, and Andrew Wyeth, in addition to works from the Federal and Beaux-arts periods.  Enjoy European art by masters such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso. 

            A couple of blocks from the museum is Victoria Mansion,  built between 1858 and 1860 as a summer home for Ruggles Sylvester Morse, a Maine native who made his fortune in New Orleans as the proprietor of luxury hotels. It’s a brownstone in the style of an Italian villa, with remarkably complete, luxurious interiors.

            At Cape Elizabeth, just outside Portland, you see the Portland Head Light.  The first lighthouse on this location was lit in 1791, and the current Keepers’ Quarters was built a hundred years later.  The beautiful view has drawn visitors for years, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who often went there to write.

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