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Landscape Photography

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Taken in 1845 or 1846, this view of buildings on Exchange Street in Portland is one of Maine’s oldest datable outdoor photographs. The handsome Federal style block in the center was built for the Maine Fire and Marine Insurance Company in 1803-04 from plans by Alexander Parris. Lowell and Senter’s jewelry was located on the first floor and the Bank of Cumberland on the upper two stories. To the right was the printing establishment of Thurston, Foster and Company. Everything in this scene was destroyed twenty years later in the Great Fire of 1866.

This ambrotype captures a sunny winter day on Middle Street in Portland during the 1850s. Merchants display their goods in front of their shops, and sleighs are parked at the sidewalk. Brick commercial blocks at the right are dominated by the new Mussey’s Row near the corner of Temple Street. Built by merchant John Mussey to replace an earlier block of the same name, this handsome four story brick building with cast iron fronts and window caps was constructed in 1852 from designs by the local architect Thomas J. Sparrow. The view up Middle Street ends with City Hall in Market Square, now the site of the statue in Monument Square. At the far left is seen the tower of the Free Will Baptist Church on Casco Street and Commodore Edward Preble’s house at Congress and Preble Streets prior to its expansion into a hotel in 1859. This photograph was taken between the completion of Mussey’s Row in 1852 and the alteration of the Preble House in 1859.

An ambrotype of Richmond’s Island in Cape Elizabeth shows the newly constructed retirement home of longtime Portland physician James M. Cummings. The doctor built this island farm in 1856. The previous year Solomon Hanscomb and his two sons discovered a jug filled with fifty-two sixteenth and seventeenth century gold and silver coins and a gold wedding-signet ring while plowing the island’s northwest slope. Historian William Willis assigned original ownership of the treasure to the seventeenth century Richmond’s Island trader Walter Bagnall, and the precious artifacts were acquired by the Maine Historical Society. This ambrotype of the island by the Portland photographer George M. Howe provides an excellent view of Dr. Cumming’s property and commemorates a major historical discovery.