Among all these posts from the summer, I’ve managed to write one timely thing. Last weekend Brianna and I visited Victoria Mansion to see their holiday decorations. Located in Portland’s historic West End, Victoria Mansion was built by the Morse family in the 1800s. Ruggles and Olive Morse ran hotels in New Orleans and escaped to Maine during the summer. After also visiting the Newport Mansions, I really wonder what the winter homes of these people looked like.
This year, the rooms were decorated for the theme Christmas in the City by the Sea. I liked some of the rooms’ decorations better than others. One room had a large ship model for the Golden Age of Sailing. Another had a figurehead from a ship. I was particularly intrigued by two mannequins wearing Christmas tree pants and a skirt.
The docents were informative and friendly and told us stories about a painting donated from England and decorations for the curtains being restored by a company in France. Everyone also talked up the Turkish smoking room. Understandably, this room had been most heavily restored because of what smoke will do to paint. Some rooms had been more restored than others, but one was completely original to what it had been in the 1800s. Because of the brick walls separating it from the rest of the house, it withstood environmental stress. Ninety-five percent of the furnishings are original to the home, and I found that remarkably high in my limited understanding of these kinds of homes and preservation efforts.
Another of the house’s pleasures is its tricks. The ceiling of one room is painted to look like wood. One decent told us about the ceiling in the building’s tower: it’s painted to appear higher than it is from inside.
The house doesn’t take long to tour, but it provides a glimpse into Portland’s history. Plus, it’s a great excuse to walk around the West End, which is especially beautiful at Christmastime.