You are here
Grand Trunk Company Office
Railroads profoundly impacted the economy and landscape of Maine, and the Grand Trunk Company Office at India and Commercials streets in Portland represents an important vestige of this transformation. Cities and towns across the state were transformed by the railroad, which helped expand Maine’s shipbuilding, fishing, lumber, papermaking, shoemaking, and tourism industries, and Portland was no exception.
In 1846 entrepreneur John A. Poor’s heroic race by sleigh from Portland to Montreal amidst blizzard conditions made Portland the terminus of the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad (Grand Trunk). The city thus became the winter outlet for Canadian wheat, and was subsequently reshaped—physically, economically, and socially. The railroad spurred the creation of the Portland Company (1846), which built rail equipment and propelled the city to create a new wide, track-lined, waterfront thoroughfare called Commercial Street, from which jutted new piers and warehouses.
By 1900 the Grand Trunk had further impacted Portland’s waterfront, upon which now sat two giant grain elevators in addition to extensive rail yards. Moreover, in 1903 the company built its three-story, brick, Renaissance Revival business office. Three years later, the Grand Trunk built a giant terminal adjacent to the office (demolished in 1966). Indeed, the business office is the only building left in what was once the Grand Trunk’s huge railroad complex.
Although much of Maine’s original 2,379 miles of track have been abandoned, several lines have been acquired by the Maine Department of Transportation, and recently Amtrak passenger train service has been resurrected between Boston and Portland and as far east as Brunswick. Portland’s Grand Trunk Company Office still sits at the corner of India and Commercial streets, not far from John A. Poor’s Portland Company. It was purchased in 2015 by Gorham Savings Bank, which has since completely rehabilitated the structure.
Eastman, Joel W. and Paul E. Rivard. “Transportation and Manufacturing.” In Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present, edited by Richard W. Judd, Edwin A. Churchill, and Joel W. Eastman. Orono: University of Maine Press, 1995.
Mohney, Kirk F., ed. Along the Rails, A Survey off Maine’s Historic Railroad Buildings. Yarmouth: Maine Preservation, 2000.
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.