The very first delivery of cargo by air to Portland, Maine in July of 1926 included some unexpected freight: a shipment of high-end dresses from New York City for the J.R. Libby Department Store. Though the store’s founder and namesake– and second owner of the Mansion– J.R. Libby had passed away in 1917, his son Ralph and the principals of the store certainly celebrated in his stead.
Most likely taken by a newspaper photographer, the image below shows a group of 15 men standing in front of the fabled biplane and two young men perched inside of it, a few figures and cars visible in the background. The pilot stands third from the left, J.R.’s son Ralph G. Libby stands eighth from left, and a man who appears to be William Cutter (the husband of J.R.’s daughter Edith) stands to Ralph’s immediate left. All the men face the viewer directly, fashionably outfitted in their suits and hats.
Not much is known about the other items on the plane or the other men in the image, but the momentous occasion was documented in the scrapbook of J.R.’s granddaughter and William and Edith Cutter’s daughter, Alice Cutter Willman. The photograph was gifted to the Mansion by Alice’s daughter Emma Willman and Deborah W. Pierce in Alice’s memory in 1998.