In 1815, the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association was the fellowship for Portland’s creative community: the blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, and more. Between 1857 and 1859, they built Mechanics’ Hall to house their library and become a communal gathering space. Today’s Mechanics’ Hall connects to that rich history by inspiring and enriching the community while promoting ingenuity, creativity, innovation and the diffusion of useful knowledge.
Mechanics’ Hall condemns the killing of George Floyd and countless others at the hands of police brutality and racist vigilantism. We believe Black Lives Matter; we stand with and support the necessary peaceful protests that are happening in our city, country, and all over the world. Read the full letter to our community and view reading suggestions here. Our organization was founded on the principle that knowledge can bring about change and in particular that “the diffusion of useful knowledge” into the hands of those with less access, or means, is our duty. We acknowledge there is much work to be done and we are committed to doing it, including sharing reading lists from our library and others on antiracism, adding new titles to our collection, programming more diverse voices and most importantly listening – really listening – so that Baldwin’s words, and others like them, no longer go unheard.
Image courtesy of Black Lives Matter
Generosity and a commitment to membership have always been the lifeblood of our organization and at this moment it means more than ever before. This week marks a momentous occasion in our history: the 200th anniversary of our historic library. In the spring of 1820 the local Mechanics Association “confident that the citizens of this town would lend generous support to a plan, whose practical results are so obvious and undisputed” made their announcement and a week later received its first book donation. While our commemorative plans will have to wait until we can all gather again, we ask that you help us honor this occasion by renewing or becoming a member today.