Victoria Mansion#7 in Best Things To Do in Portland, ME
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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#1 Old Port
Old Port is without a doubt the beating heart of Portland. This downtown neighborhood is considered the city's center and bustles with things to do left and right, all the while gracefully maintaining its historical facade. The area is lined with cobblestone streets and 19th-century warehouses, and with the wharf just steps away on Commercial Street, the city's heydays as a world-renowned port town are easily felt. Tourists can benefit from ferries and cruise experiences as well as the delectable catches that dock there daily.
Away from the waterfront, travelers will find plenty of options to sustain and entertain. Some of the city's most popular restaurants can be found in Old Port. Duckfat, Fore Street and Eventide Oyster Co., some of Portland's best dining spots, are within a three-block radius of one another. Though dining and shopping is spread out through the neighborhood, Congress Street is a great starting point; restaurants, boutiques, local art galleries and theaters line this thoroughfare. The edge of the Old Port neighborhood is also considered the beginning of the Arts District, which houses plenty of notable attractions, including the Portland Museum of Art, the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine and the Portland Stage Company, to name a few.
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