Crowd cycles in for John Calvin Stevens + Bicycle History talk and ride

June 14, 2011. Group Bicycle Tour

Walking past Maine Historical Society on Thursday afternoon (7/14) one may have thought we had turned into a bicycle museum. A high-wheel bicycle, along with other vintage and contemporary bikes, were lined up along the iron fences surrounding the Wadsworth-Longfellow House; riders were inside the lecture hall, listening to Sam Shupe give a talk. Shupe is a recent USM graduate, who wrote his history thesis on John Calvin Stevens and the art and history of bicycling in Maine. Under the wing of State Historian Earle Shettleworth, Jr., Shupe conducted his research across Maine- including at the Maine Historical Society library. He submitted his thesis for publication to the International Cycling History Conference, where it was accepted and in May he traveled to Paris, France to join their annual conference and present the paper. This fall Shupe will begin a PhD program in history at Boston University.

In a nearly full lecture hall, Shupe presented his paper once again to a lively crowd that included history buffs, cycling enthusiasts, and John Calvin Stevens admirers. His animated lecture, “I am an Old Wheelman”: John Calvin Stevens and the Art of Bicycling in Maine 1880-1900 kept the audience entertained as he displayed fascinating photographs and illustrations of bicycles, industry and shops, cycling clubs, John Calvin Stevens on bicycles along with sketches by the famed Portland architect.

After a brief Q&A, Shupe led 40 cyclists through the streets of Portland’s West End- stopping at points to discuss the architecture of several Stevens’ designed homes that were on the route map. The group of riders was diverse in age, interests, and choice of bicycle. Taking over the streets en masse, we rode leisurely under the warm afternoon sun, swapping stories of bicycle trips across Maine and Europe, discussing Steven’s architecture, and generally enjoying ourselves. Below are photos from the afternoon’s event.

Dani Fazio, Image Services Coordinator, Maine Historical Society

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