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Fifth Maine Museum
A memorial to the men who served in Maine Fifth Regiment during the Civil War, the attractive Queen Anne building has served as a summer retreat for veterans since its construction in 1888 and, more recently, as a museum and cultural center. It is located on Peaks Island, one of the largest islands in Casco Bay, accessed by ferry from downtown Portland. The memorial building rests on a ledge that slopes toward a small rocky beach and faces Whitehead Passage between Cushing and Peaks islands. It was built on donated land with funds collected from family members of the Fifth Maine Regiment.
The two-and-a-half-story building is of post-and-beam construction with metal rods that run between the first-floor ceiling and the roof for added support. The pitched roof extends down over a ten-foot-wide veranda encircling the first story and affords a balcony off the gable-end dormers on the second floor. There are six dormers in total projecting from the roof on the second story. A three-story circular tower is located at the southwest corner. The building is sheathed in sawn clapboards and decorative shingles; wall surfaces are painted cream yellow with white trim. Both the building’s pitched roof and that of the tower are covered with asphalt shingles. A flight of stairs leads to the porch and front doorway. At the peak of the facade gable is a flagpole.
The entrance to the building is through a double door with large glass panes onto which “5th Maine Regiment” is incised in block letters. The main hall is rectangular with two side bays. Commemorative stained glass windows with the names of either individual members of the regiment or company names line the walls of this main hall. A fireplace is located between the entrance to the room and the connecting door to an anteroom. Opposite the fireplace, at the far end of the room, a door opens to the porch and the ocean view.
For well over eighty years, the building housed Civil War artifacts of the Fifth Maine Regiment, which was one of the first six Maine regiments that gathered as a result of President Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 call for 75,000 volunteers. The regiment distinguished itself at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, among other battles. In the 1970s, the war artifacts were removed to the Maine State Museum in Augusta. Today, the Fifth Maine Regiment Memorial Hall and museum is owned by the Fifth Maine Regiment Community Association and maintained as a Civil War and local history museum and as a cultural center for the island community. Open to the public, the building serves as a venue for community suppers, pancake breakfasts, and private gatherings, in addition to its function as a museum and cultural center.
Monaghan, Nancy, “Fifth Maine Regiment Building,” Cumberland County, Maine. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1977. National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
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