So successful was the June 4th jazz concert at Sumner Park that the Friends of the Park is initiating a concert series that commences this Friday, August 6th at 6:30 pm. This is the first of a three part concert series: “Play It Forward” First Friday concerts will take place again on September 3rd and October 1st at the Park. Sumner Park is on North Street on Munjoy Hill.
The September 3rd concert will feature The Violin Makers, playing traditional music from Quebec, New England, Ireland and Beyond. The October 1st concert plans TBA.
About 175 people attended a jazz concert at the Park that featured the “Ed Mitchell Quartet” in June. The band was sponsored by Hill resident Rudy Ferrente and RMS Mortgage. Part of the sponsorship and current attendees generously donated around $550. That money was donated to the Portland Artists Relief Fund according to Jaye Gorham, President of the Friends of Sumner Park.
Fort Sumner was a coastal defense site on Munjoy Hill. It was built in 1794 as part of the first system of coastal fortification building of the US. It was originally named Fort Allen after the nearby Revolutionary War battery that probably became part of Fort Sumner according to Wikipedia. It was renamed in 1797 for Increase Sumner, the popular, incumbent Governor of Massachusetts, of which Maine was a part at that time.
A former Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice, Sumner had just begun his second term as Governor, when he died in 1797 at the age of 53 years according to “Memoir of Increase Sumner: Governor of Massachusetts,” written by his devoted son William Hyslop Sumner. Had the Governor lived longer, he probably would have enjoyed a successful political career.
The Governor was so popular that he was fully supported by Maine voters in 1797. It wasn’t until 1820 that Maine separated from Massachusetts. That 200th anniversary celebration of the separation from Massachusetts was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board of the Friends has plans to improve the Park that will be announced at a later date according to Gorham.