The 5th Maine Museum on Peaks Island, Maine is a civil war and local history museum. The building dates to 1888 and is an important cultural center to the Peaks Island community. The 5th Maine Museum began as the Fifth Maine Regiment Memorial Hall built in 1888 to be used as a headquarters for the 5th Maine Volunteer Infantry of 1861-1864 and served as a summer getaway for veterans and their families.
The Museum is maintained by Fifth Maine Regiment Community Association as a memorial to the Civil War and local history of the island community.
The Regimental Hall was designed as a Queen Anne style cottage with large windows made from handblown glass and engraved with the names of those who served in the volunteer infantry of the 5th Maine Regiment. The building consisted of 15 sleeping rooms, a dining area, and several kitchenettes for family and personal use. In 1954 the hall was turned into a museum and in 1978 was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The museum was named a greater Portland landmark in 1984.
The museum is open limited hours year-round with the schedule listed on the website. During non-summer months, the museum is only open on weekends. Appointments can also be made to visit the museum outside of their business hours. To get to Peaks Island a ferry is available from the Portland Waterfront. The museum is approximately a 10 minute walk from the wharf.
The restrooms, lower level dining room, and main room are handicap accessible; however, the second floor is not.
The Exhibit at 5th Maine Museum commemorate the Civil War, local culture and history, and the Fifth Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry.
The Coney Island of Maine- This exhibit explores the history of Peaks Island as a monumental tourist attraction from 1880-1920 when it was nicknamed the Coney Island of Maine. History of the hotels, theaters, amusements and outdoor recreations are showcased in the exhibit.
Maine’s Fighting Fifth- The Forest City Regiment- The Memorial Hall where this exhibit is housed was built by members of the Fifth Maine Regiment with displays featuring both personal and regimental history artifacts that were donated by veterans. The regiment consisted of 1,546 men from Maine who answered President Lincoln’s call to arms in 1861 to commence the American Civil War. This regiment was known as a fighting regiment and participated in 22 battles capturing more than 1200 confederate soldiers and three times as many battle flags as any other Maine regiment. Only 194 men were mustered out in 1864 with the rest killed in action, wounded or transferred to other regiments. Others died from diseases during the war or were deserters.
The Pioneer Trail- Visitors will discover the history of Peaks Island from the early settlers on the island in the 17th -19th centuries and the legacy those people left behind.
An Island at War- Peaks Island Military Reservation was the largest military base in Casco Bay and an important location in the defense of World War II. During this time, there were up to 900 soldiers stationed at the base.
Events and Education
The 5th Maine Museum offers many special events and classes for the community that inspire a learning and appreciation for the culture significance of Peaks Island and history of the island as a military base. There are also arts classes offered throughout the summer. Some events include:
· Peaks Island Music Association concerts
· Pancake breakfasts
· Classes in portraiture
· Classes in calligraphy
· Special Exhibition openings
· Arts and crafts shows
· Summer fair
Class and event schedules are available through the museum website.
The 5th Maine Museum is available to rent for private events such as weddings, retreats, corporate outings, meetings, parties and other events. Views of the Atlantic Ocean and Whitehead Passage make the location ideal for small groups and intimate affairs. The main room is encircled by a covered verandah, perfect for indoor/outdoor events with the dining room seating up to 75 guests at tables. A restored garden is also available for garden ceremonies, outdoor picnics, and group gatherings. Restroom facilities and a kitchen are available for guest use.
Membership and Volunteer Opportunities
Descendants of soldiers that were part of the Fifth Maine Regiment are encouraged to apply for membership in the museum. Memberships range from $15- $250 per year and are available for individuals, families, and corporations. Volunteers are always needed to assist in landscaping, fundraising, pancake breakfasts, hospitality, working the arts and crafts shows, research, publicity, kitchen and collections committees, and as museum docents.
45 Seashore Avenue, Peaks Island, Maine 04108, website, Phone: 207-766-3330
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