Historic Portland Observatory Reopens on Saturday, May 28th on Munjoy Hill


The Historic Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill Reopens for the 2022 Summer Season on Saturday, May 28th.  Access to it Will be by Pre-Ppurchased Tickets Only.

The historic Portland Observatory is reopening for the 2022 season on Saturday, May 28th according to a press release issued this morning by Greater Portland Landmarks who manages the property for the city of Portland who owns it.

Access to the Observatory will be by pre-purchased tickets only.  Up to ten (10) visitors will be allowed on each timed tour.  Guided tours take approximately 45 minutes.

Face masks are required to be worn inside despite proof of vaccination.  The gift shop is open, but please be prepared to pay with a card – no cash.  The Observatory was closed in 2020.

Captain Lemuel Moody (1768-1846) ordered the construction of the 86-foot high tower to serve as a communications station for Portland harbor.  It was a commercial venture designed to give a competitive edge to ship owners who paid Moody a fee of $5.00 a year to alert them when their ships arrived in Portland harbor.  At the time, ships entering the harbor could not be seen from the docks of Portland until they rounded the point of land at Spring Point Ledge and were almost in the bustling harbor.  With his powerful telescope at the top of the tower, sea captain-turned entrepreneur Moody could identify incoming vessels as far away as 30 miles.  Moody informed subscsribing merchants by hosting signal flags identifying their ships.  Merchants often needed time to assemble dock workers to unload their ships. This advance knowledge of their ships arrival in Portland harbor gave them needed time to do just that.

In 1984, Greater Portland Landmarks assumed management of the tower.  Ten years later, inspections revealed serious moisture damage and an infection of powder-post beetles.  The tower was closed for major restoration and reopened in 2000 according to information provided by Alessa Wylie, Manager of Education for the Observatory. It is the only remaining maritime signal tower in the US.  For more background information on the historic Observatory, please read post herein dated August 14, 2021 and on June 30, 2020.