By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,227)
Lincoln Park, the oldest park in Portland, will be the focus of a First Friday Art Walk today at 5:30 pm. Artist Alison Hildreth will lead a discussion about the park, including its artwork, history and significance within the city’s collection. This is the sixth in a series of talks hosted by the city’s public art committee. The Park is located on Congress Street at the corner of Franklin Street.
This series of discussions about the city’s art collection was begun earlier this year. It was started partially to improve the public image of the committee following negative publicity it received regarding the controversy on the “Tracing the Fore” art work in Boothby Square. This series of discussions, “Art in Our Front Yard,” was seen as a way to improve the committee’s public image that was damaged in that controversy. It’s also an opportunity to show the public what the committee does and to showcase the city’s public art collection.
Lincoln Park came into existence following the great fire of 1866. During that fire, more than eighteen hundred buildings were destroyed leaving 10,000 people homeless. The City Council appointed a commitee to buy land within the area of the burnt district for a public square or park. The land was to act as a firebreak if needed. For the sum of $83,000, the city purchased a 2.5 acre piece of land that was first called Phoenix Square. The name was changed to honor President Lincoln in 1867. The plans for the park were carried out under the direction of Charles Goodell, according to a press release issued by the city.
In 1871, a fountain was added. Although originally intended as a promenade, the park became famous for its flower beds and shady elm trees. Lincoln Park was for a long time the centerpiece in the City of Portland. Three churches were built around its periphery and in the twentieth century civic structures were added. Ceremonies honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln took place in the park in 1909, attracting large crowds.
Last year the Park was the site of the OccupyMaine encampament that ended peacefully.
Fore more information about the Portland Public Art Committee, visit www.portlandmaine.gov/planning/pubart.asp.