By Annie Leahy, Executive Director & Paul Stevens, Board President – Not long after the current pandemic forced us to close the Hall to the public in March, we began to wonder what we might learn from the generation of mechanics who endured the flu pandemic of 1918. We searched through our accessible archives, hoping to unearth a cataloged letter or report to gain a bit of wisdom from their hardship that might ease our own. We could find nothing. Read the full letter here.
By Susan Axelrod – In addition to its highly visible architecturally significant buildings and spaces, Portland has a number of gems that are, in effect, hiding in plain sight: the Portland Masonic Temple, Wilde Memorial Chapel in Evergreen Cemetery, and the garden at the Wadsworth–Longfellow House, to name a few. Just a block from the garden is another hidden jewel: Mechanics’ Hall. Like its other Congress Street neighbor, the Masonic Temple, Mechanics’ Hall has storefronts facing the street, which help to keep the 160-year-old building’s larger purpose under wraps, as well as provide income for its owner, the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA). Full article here.
By Bob Keyes – For three years, Sen. Angus King of Maine observed the ongoing work to restore the cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., unaware that a craftsman with ties to Maine was leading the effort to return the landmark to its magnificence.
He watched as a mountain of scaffolding was erected around the dome’s exterior, and each day sparked a new question in the senator’s mind about details, scope and challenges of the project. On Friday, King will have a chance to get answers to his questions, when he introduces Robert Baird of Brooklin at the 2019 Sparrow Lecture at Portland’s Mechanics’ Hall, presented by the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association. Full article here.
PORTLAND, Maine – Mechanics’ Hall Board of Directors today announced the appointment of Annie Leahy as the organization’s inaugural Executive Director. Leahy will start her post on April 22nd. She joins Mechanics’ as the organization begins a process of planning for major building and facility improvements that will allow the Hall to present a wide variety of creative and artistic programs which honor the mission of the MCMA – to inspire and enrich the community by promoting ingenuity, creativity, innovation, and the diffusion of useful knowledge.
“We are thrilled that Annie has accepted this leadership position with Mechanics’ Hall,” said outgoing Board President Pam Plumb. “Throughout the interview process, she acknowledged our history, spoke to our mission, and articulated a strong programmatic vision for our future. Her experience, energy and drive will be a great asset to the organization.”
Leahy comes to Mechanics’ with over 20 years experience working at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She’s held senior positions in New York City at ABC News, the Tribeca Film Institute and the Tribeca Film Festival. She moved to Portland, Maine in 2009 as the Executive Producer and Director of Programming for PopTech. She currently serves as Board Chair at SPACE Gallery and is on the advisory board for Portland Bach Experience. Full article here.
By Bob Keyes – The Mechanics’ Hall in downtown Portland will be draped in color for the First Friday Art Walk when a Portland-based organization dedicated to reducing winter heating costs in Maine demonstrates how much heat the old building is losing and how much more efficiently it could operate.
The projection, presented by Passivhaus Maine, an organization that promotes low-energy construction, will be shown between 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday. It is a stylized vision of the actual thermal imaging of the building, taken last February, showing hot spots where heat is seeping from the building and cooler spots where there’s better insulation to hold heat in and keep cold out. The projection lasts a little less than two minutes, and will be shown every 10 minutes or so, over the course of the evening. It also will include general information about the advantages of energy-wise construction and renovation, the pervasiveness of heat loss and what people can do about it. Full article here.
By Herb Adams – SPRING IS HERE bringing the 10-speeds out into Portland’s newly painted bike lanes and happy pedalers out in quest of health, fresh air, and faraway places.
As they whiz through Bayside, few know they travel hallowed ground, for here in Bayside was born the velocipede craze that bloomed into Maine’s long love affair with the bicycle. Full article here on page 8.