City Hall in Portland: A Hub for Events & Excitement in the 1920s and 1930s

By Shannon Schooley, Project Cataloguer

In the 1920s and 1930s City Hall was the place to enjoy special events in Portland, Maine!

Parades and processions marched to City Hall, presidents and politicians spoke from its front steps to crowds gathered in the street, and honorees received awards and recognition outside of City Hall.  Essentially, when something exciting happened in Portland, at least a part of it took place at City Hall.

Below are event images at City Hall in the 1920s and 1930s from the Gannett Glass Plate Negative Collection (Coll. 1949) given to the Society by the Portland Press Herald. These images are being digitized and made available on Maine Memory Network thanks to a grant in 2016 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


At the Maine Centennial celebration in 1920, several high-ranking Naval officers visited City Hall during the celebration. City Hall was decorated in patriotic colors, and a large crowd was gathered around the officers. naval officers

From left to right: Commander Joss Manoel de Carvalho of the Portuguese battle cruiser, San Gabriel; Rear Admiral E.W. Erbele, U.S.N. commanding Battleship Division 5, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and U.S.S. Utah, Flagship; Rear Admiral Allan F. Everett, R.N. of M.M.S. Calcutta; Captain Henry H. Hough, U.S. commanding the U.S.S. Utah; Captain P.N. Olmstead U.S.N. commanding the U.S.S. Florida.  This image appeared on page six of the Tuesday, June 29, 1920, issue of the Portland Evening Express.


In the summer of 1921, President Warren Harding visited New Hampshire and Maine. In Maine, Harding addressed a crowd from the steps of City Hall in Portland and concluded his visit with a game of golf at the Poland Spring House. People congregated on Congress Street during the President’s speech. He was joined by the First Lady and other politicians during his address.   crowdharding


In 1925, the annual convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC) was held in Portland. Delegates from all over the country came to Portland for the event. Many arrived by train at Union Station and traveled by special train cars for delegates. Two women (below) from Wyoming posed for a photograph beside their car and outside of City Hall.   womenneedswatermark


Franklin D. Roosevelt also made a trip to Portland and City Hall on October 31, 1932.  Governor-Elect Louis Brann (right), introduced him to the crowd.  Presidential candidate Roosevelt gave a campaign address to the people of Maine at this event. In his address, he explained his plans to work with Democrats and Republicans and to work in harmony with the other branches of government. Roosevelt went on to win the 1932 presidential election; although Maine was one of the six states he lost. rooseveltbrannRoosevelt speech


Memorial Day parades and celebration in often concluded at City Hall in the 1920s and 1930s. Many military officers and their spouses were honored for their service or honored those who died in service. Families often attended these events and gathered on Congress Street outside of City Hall.   city hall group photo from ppo
Large-scale celebrations usually happened at City Hall, but smaller events often happened here as well. Many group photographs were taken on the front steps throughout the years: Boy Scout troops, Portland High School clubs, winners of Miss Portland Beauty Pageants, etc. often posed on the steps.

We hope you have enjoyed this brief walk down memory lane to Portland’s City Hall almost a century ago!

All photographs in this post are Collections of Maine Historical Society/Maine Today Media

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “City Hall in Portland: A Hub for Events & Excitement in the 1920s and 1930s

  1. Eric Purcell

    Hello, I have had the good fortune to have inherited an 1803 brick tavern located in extreme northern Cumberland County town of New Gloucester. However, given its somewhat rough shape and in need of some costly repairs, and my limited income i fear it may continue at best to deteriorate slowly. I am looking for any information you could offer pertaining to accessing grants or other possible funds to help save this historical landmark. Sincerely, Eric Purcell

    1. Eric – We are happy to help with research that might be needed to designate the location as an historic property, but the two organizations below would probably be better suited in providing advice about securing funds and assessing preservation possibilities:

      Maine Preservation Commission
      http://www.maine.gov/mhpc/
      (207) 287-2132
      Kirk.Mohney@maine.gov (Kirk Mahoney, director)

      Preservation Maine
      233 West Main Street
      Yarmouth, ME 04096
      (207) 847-3577
      info@mainepreservation.org

      Hope that’s helpful!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s