Laura Fecych Sprague, Portland, ME
This lecture is sponsored by Martha Steen in loving memory of Bill Steen, founder of the American Decorative Arts Forum.
Some of us may be disposed to think of Maine as a fishing, lumbering and quarrying state, but Maine — even in the early 19th century — was at the geographic and cultural crossroads of east coast cultures.
Federal Maine was remarkably adaptable: English and French, Loyalists and Colonials mixed with Native American populations to use the wealth of their state to wield huge political and economic clout in the young nation.
Extensive social and commercial networks linked Mainers to family, craftsmen, and business associates throughout the Atlantic basin. Portland, one of New England’s major ports, fostered an appreciation of the arts and education; young ambitious architects and craftsman found patrons in town. “Indeed,” a young gentleman assured his new bride in 1817, the cultural society and household furnishings were “as elegant as you expect to find elsewhere.”