Three Places to Visit in Portland, Maine

Located on Munjoy Hill, the Portland Observatory in Portland, Maine, is one of the last standing maritime signal towers in the United States.  Built in 1807, it is an amazing place to read about its fascinating history and enjoy breathtaking views.

The octagonal structure is eighty-six feet high and was originally built to be a communication station for Portland’s harbor.  Ship owners paid Captain Lemuel Moody five dollars a year to let them know when their ships were coming into the harbor.

Captain Moody was a shred man because he knew ships could not be seen from the harbor docks until they were almost there.  He installed a telescope that could identify the merchants vessels from a maximum distance of thirty miles.  He would hoist a flag for the merchants to see their ships were on their way.

Sadly, the communication tower became obsolete in 1923 because the two-way radio was invented.  The Portland Observatory was abandoned and fell into disrepair.  It was donated to the city of Portland who started restored the tower and opened it to the public in 1939.

Celebrating its two hundredth anniversary in 2007, the Portland Observatory is visited by thousands of people per year.  You can visit it daily or try the evening tour on Thursday nights in July and August.  Then you too can give them review on the internet.

Located on the amazing shores of Fort Williams Park sits Portland Head Light.  The spectacular light house is actually owned by the Town of Cape Elizabeth.  The museum is located in the former Keepers’ Quarters where you can see different lighthouse lenses and enjoy the interpretative displays.

Back in 1776 the Town of Cape Elizabeth put eight soldier guards on Portland Head.  They were posted there to alert the citizens should there be an oncoming British attach.  Construction of the tower started in 1787 and was taken over by the United States Government in 1790 when they took over all of the lighthouses.

The Portland Head Light tower originally measured seventy-two feet from the bottom to the lantern deck which was lit with sixteen whale oil lamps that were first lit on January 10, 1791.  A cast iron staircase and a fourth order Fresnel lens were installed by 1864.

They raised the tower by twenty feet in 1865 and installed a second order Fresnel lens.  Today you can see a portion of the lens in the museum.  There are almost four thousand positive online posts about this beautiful lighthouse.

Considered one of the most historical homes of the nineteenth century is the Victoria Mansion aka the Morse-Libby House.  Constructed as a summer home for two, the house was built between 1858 to 1860.  The original owner, Ruggles Sylvester Morse was raised in Maine but made his fortune in New Orleans as a luxury hotelier.

Victoria Mansion was built near sewer and gas lines so it could boast many amenities most homes didn’t have at the time.  There was cold and hot running water, gas lights, central heating, a servant call-bell, and flushing toilets.

Victoria Mansion became a public museum in 1941.  It has over ninety percent of the original interiors.  Almost all of the original paintings are still on display.  It is truly a spectacular place to visit, just look up their web reviews.