An in-person talk about who built Victoria Mansion
Hosted by Maine Historical Society
Thursday, January 26, 6:00 – 7:00 pm
SNOW DATE: Thursday, February 2 at 6:00 pm
Location: MHS Shettleworth Lecture Hall
Built between 1858-1860, Victoria Mansion is a National Historic Landmark in Portland, Maine, known widely for its architecture and stunning intact interiors. The question of who “built” Victoria Mansion tends to surface the same few names: Henry Austin, the architect, Gustave Herter and Giuseppe Guidicini, the interior designers, and Ruggles and Olive Morse, who commissioned the house and its contents.
Ruggles Morse amassed a fortune as a proprietor of luxury hotels, in part at the expense of enslaved labor in New Orleans. Ongoing research has led Mansion staff to discover more than two dozen enslaved Black and mixed-race individuals who had been purchased and/or sold by the Morses.
In 2021, Victoria Mansion launched the Unwilling Architects Initiative. Through it, staff endeavor to learn more about and interpret the lives of individuals impacted by the Morses’ decisions, and who unwillingly assisted in underwriting construction of this palatial Portland mansion.
Join Victoria Mansion staff member Brittany Cook and the initiative’s DEI consultant Anisa Khadraoui. They will discuss research into histories that occurred offsite, placing the mansion in the greater context of the United States in the 19th century. They will share how research interprets narratives for historically underrepresented and excluded populations, and informs the everyday interpretation at a small historic house museum.
Funding for The Unwilling Architects Initiative has been provided by The Maine Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Cost: Free and open to the public. Registration required. REGISTER HERE.