Mechanics Hall (Portland, Maine)
Front of Mechanics' Hall
|Location||519 Congress Street, Portland, Maine|
|Architect||Thomas P. Sparrow|
|NRHP Reference #||73000118|
|Added to NRHP||1973|
Mechanics Hall is a historic commercial building and meeting hall at 519 Congress Street in downtown Portland, Maine. Built in 1857-59 by and for the members of the Maine Charitable Mechanical Association, it is a well-preserved example of commercial Italianate architecture executed in brick and stone, and a landmark in Portland's downtown business district. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The building is still owned by the association, which has a library and sponsors events.
Description and history
Mechanics Hall is located on the north side of Congress Street in downtown Portland, at the northeast corner with Casco Street. It is a two story masonry structure, appearing three stories in height owing to an extremely tall (33-foot (10 m)) second floor. It is covered by a truncated hip roof. Its front facade is finished in granite, while its sides and rear are finished in brick beyond the first bay. The front facade has a pair of commercial storefronts flanking the main building entrance, each storefront having a central recessed entrance. The main entrance is framed by paneled stone posts topped by a lintel on which the building name is incised. The upper-level windows are set in tall openings with rounded-arch tops and quoining of rough textured stone. A bracketed cornice projects along the street-facing sides. The interior of the building has hall on the ground floor with access from both Congress and Casco Streets, and space for the association's library. The upper floor, which originally housed a large meeting space, has been divided into two floors.
The Maine Charitable Mechanical Association was formed in 1815 as a charitable and educational association for workers in the "mechanical arts". It sponsored, exhibitions, trade fairs, and lectures on a variety of topics, and accumulated a library. This building was constructed in 1857-59, by members of the association, to a design by Thomas P. Sparrow, also an association member. It is one of only three designs by Sparrow known to survive, and it is the finest of the three. The upper level interior space was modified in 1890 to plans drawn up by noted Portland architect John Calvin Stevens, converting it to office space and a larger library space.