After a thorough dry-cleaning of the room's walls and ceiling, (as much of the painted decoration is water-based), the next phase of the major conservation project in the Mansion's Parlor looms near: the application of a protective barrier varnish on the original 1860's paint to protect and preserve it for decades to come. Once this synthetic barrier is applied, work to restore failing plaster and gilded elements, areas of paint loss and water damage (visible in the image to the right) begins in earnest and will provide a more striking visual transformation of the space. The Parlor is the largest [...]
Nineteenth-century American artists looked to Europe as the omphalos of culture. The painters flocked to Paris, while the sculptors migrated to Florence and Rome, where they could obtain the marble, the mentors, and the ancient models they required to fashion their neo-classical compositions. These expatriate artists chose “’ideal’ subjects—themes from literature, mythology, and history,” as most worthy of their endeavors. Their studios were destinations for Americans on the Grand Tour, and often they made multiple versions of a piece to sell. A member of the Italian enclave was Edward Russell Thaxter, a [...]
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 [...]
While our doors may be closed to the public, we are opening the Mansion up to local schools who are taking part in our A Century of Change school curriculum. Elementary schools from around Cumberland County have the opportunity to select from 8 lessons that look at the changes over time that created the world we now live in, through the lens of Victoria Mansion and Portland in the 19th century. The most popular lessons include discussions of technology, etiquette, immigration, and symbolism, and include both an in class lesson and a guided program in the Mansion itself. A Century of Change is [...]
Now in its eighth month, the conservation project to clean and stabilize the walls and ceiling of the Parlor is still in progress, and with the completion of our successful Christmas season the room is once again a hive of activity as conservators complete a second pass cleaning the original 1860 decoration of the room by Italian artist Giuseppe Guidicini. The size of the room, (the Mansion's largest), along with the required methods of cleaning, make for an extremely detailed project that will still take several more months to complete. As Guidicini used an water soluble egg-based tempera paint [...]
As we close the books and crunch the numbers for another successful holiday season, we are delighted to report that visitation has been steadily on the rise. Though we saw a slight decrease in visitation in 2016 and 2017, the Mansion welcomed over 33,000 people by the end of December and we expect to see 750 more students in the coming months--besting last year's numbers by nearly 3,000 people. We are so pleased to be able to share this one-of-a-kind landmark with increasing numbers of visitors from all over the world each year.
This year's Gala was a great success, raising nearly $20,000 for the Mansion's preservation and educational initiatives. Guests enjoyed fabulous food provided by the Cumberland Club, the musical stylings of Viva, signature cocktails, and and great company within the Mansion's decked out interiors. Thank you to our generous patrons, event partners, and to all who attended and helped us kick off our holiday season. For a full album of festive photos from the evening by Emily Leonard Photography, click HERE. 2019 Gala Patrons Diamond Patrons Nancy Armitage Elizabeth K. Astor Sheila Clark-Edmands & Peter L. Edmands Mary C. Doughty Thomas [...]
Follow the links and watch the videos below to learn more about the Mansion's 2019 holiday season. Now in its fourth decade, 'Christmas at Victoria Mansion' has become a beloved tradition for many in the Greater Portland area and beyond! Portland Press Herald Society Notebook: Click HERE for images and a rundown of Victoria Mansion's Annual Holiday Gala held on December 4, 2019. Longtime supporters of Victoria Mansion Mary Doughty, David Fernald, Allie Staley, Muffie Fernald, Will and Nancy Armitage, David Savage, Benita Fuller-Fugelso and Jane Briggs. Photo by Amy Paradysz, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald. [...]
On August 20, the Mansion welcomed Marjorie Willits Albright, a college roomate of the late Libby descendant Ellen Libby Lawrence, who passed away at the age of 101 last October. Marjorie remembered eating in the Mansion's Dining Room and sleeping in one of the bedrooms upstairs when she was visiting Portland with Ellen on a break from Wellesley College in 1936. By that time, the Libby family still owned the house but had removed some furnishings. Her memories of the house were remarkable and we so enjoyed this wonderful visit with Marjorie and her son Randall.
On July 24, the Mansion welcomed Libby descendant Mary Marcell--and with her came some precious cargo indeed. Mary arrived with four wine glasses, four cordial glasses, two pot de crème, and a soup bowl, all original to the Morse table service. She also brought a needlepoint sampler, silver nut dish, silver hand mirror and powder jar, all belonging to Mary Louise Libby (later Chamberlain). Mary Louise (1874-1971) was the middle daughter of the house's second owners, J.R. and Louisa Libby, and resided in the Mansion from 1894 until her marriage (in the Mansion's Parlor, no less!) to Arthur Chamberlain in [...]
By VM Guide Charisse Gendron In early 1998, Victoria Mansion started preparations for an exciting project: the reconstruction of its large stained-glass skylight, which had been shattered in a storm sixty years before. Surviving pieces were salvaged at the time, but only one clue remained to the overall composition: a roundel bearing a winged putto personifying the season of Spring. This roundel was known to be one of a set of four, but the others were destroyed during the storm incident, and no documentation of their imagery existed. Overseeing the project from concept through completion, former Curator Arlene Palmer Schwind [...]
by Victoria Mansion Guide Lisa Schinhofen Victoria Mansion’s blue circular ottoman is hard to miss — due, in part, to its size and its prominent placement in the middle of a given room — and visitors often remark upon it. Many recognize the ottoman as a type of public seating, having seen something similar in a hotel lobby, train station, art gallery, or shopping mall. To others, it is familiar as a precursor to today’s sectional sofas. Some visitors have suggested that the ottoman may have played a role in Victorian courting rituals, as it allowed couples [...]