A beautifully preserved Victorian style house that makes the Portland Museum of Art a photo hot spot in Portland Maine.
While wandering through the Portland Museum of art having just visited the Group f/64 exhibit, I discovered a piece of art that was completely unexpected. After walking through the section of marble sculptures and various oil paintings, I discovered a beautifully preserved house tucked away at farthest east end of the building. Upon entering the house I encountered a desk that proudly displayed a sign that read “The McLellan House.” As I ventured further into the house I found historical and visual beauty everywhere I turned.
The McLellan House was built in the early 1800s for Major Hugh McLellan. McLellan was known for owning Maine’s largest shipping fleet and founded the first bank and insurance company in Maine during Maine’s first golden age. During the height of all of McLellan’s glory and after conveniently acquired a slot of land in downtown Portland, McLellan paid a whopping $20,000 to have his house built, which translates into about $250,000 today after calculating inflation. McLellan recruited Ipswich native John Kimball to design and construct the elegant mansion. Modern historian William Goold pointed out that Kimball designed the house based on rooms that he had only heard about in books written during the 1700s. Sadly, Major McLellan wasn’t able to enjoy his mansion for very long. After only 5 years of living at the new house, the death of McLellan’s wife and the loss of his shipping company left Major McLellan in ruins mentally and financially. A short 10 years after that, the state threatened to put his house up for auction until McLellan finally sold his mansion in 1817. Through multiple changes of owners over the next century the estate fell into the hands of Margret Jane Sweat, an enthusiast of Victorian art who furnished the house to fit those tastes. At the end of her life, Margret Jane Sweat deeded the McLellan House to the Portland Society of Art, which would later become the Portland Museum of Art. Finally in October of 2002, the house was restored and reopened as part of the Portland Museum of Art.
As historically intriguing the building is, its historical value is not nearly as impressive compared to its visual beauty. The newly restored McLellan house has been freshened on a way that has not at all compromise the houses beauty or accessibility. When you enter the building through the museum, you are dumped into the main entrance hall that features an elegant white staircase which is placed directly in the middle of the room. The staircase winds and separates elegantly at the end of the room to present to you more rooms of the building. This staircase alone is enough to make any Lomographer ga-ga. It’s descreet woodwork and flawless design is not only soothing to the eye but is also prefer for doubles and other sorts of lomographic manipulation.
All of the rooms on the sides of the entrance hall are open as well. These rooms feature an aray of Victorian style furnature and design. The walls glimmer with intricate and vivid wall paper that will make you want to cover your own house with such flamboyant wallpaper. In rooms that aren’t sporting impressive wallpapers, the walls are painted with beautiful vibrant colors. Along the intricate patterns and vibrant colors plastered on the walls are the equally if not more so complex than those displayed on the carpets. Combine these carpets or walls with some of the beautiful architectural bits of the house and you have an amazing double guaranteed.
So whether you’re into architectural photography or you just like playing with colors, the McLellan House is a must see for anybody in the Portland area.