- Historic Homes/Mansions Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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Architecture buffs and lovers of interior design will be swept up by the opulence of the Victoria Mansion. This National Historic Landmark was originally built in the mid-1800s as a summer house for hotelier Ruggles Sylvester Morse. But after it was damaged during a hurricane in 1938, the house was scheduled for demolition to make way for a gas station. A Maine resident quickly bought the home and turned it into a museum in honor of Queen Victoria.
What makes the Victoria Mansion so important in the eyes of historians is that it's seen as an exemplary illustration of pre-Civil War grandeur. The exterior of the house was modeled after an Italian villa and features an ornate square tower, numerous balconies and piazzas. Inside, prepare to be even more amazed. Ninety percent of the original interiors are still intact, with carved wood paneled walls, gas light fixtures, cherub-clad crown molds, and ornate draperies and carpeting throughout. Designed by Gustave Herter of Herter Brothers, one of the most popular design firms of the day, it is the only work of his kind in the U.S. that remains intact. Another interesting aspect of this house is that it was actually considered modern in its era. The property features running hot and cold water, gas lighting, central heating and a system to alert servants.
All the house's bells and whistles impressed recent visitors. Travelers were in awe of the well-preserved state of the mansion's interiors. Others appreciated the knowledgeable staff, though some expressed a little disappointment that visitors don't have access to all areas of the house. You can find Victoria Mansion in downtown Portland, about a half-mile southwest of the Old Port. Admission costs $16 for adults; $5 for youth ages 6 through 17; and it's free for children younger than 6. Hours and guided tours vary by day and season. For more information, visit the Victoria Mansion's website.
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