Virtual Reality: Restoring a Missing Treasure

Hand-painted lantern slide of the Children's Gate, 1930.

Many of the thousands of photographs on Maine Memory represent the people, places, and things of Maine that no longer exist. But for the original photographs, and the digitized versions that make the history accessible to a much wider audience, that history would be lost forever.

Which is why we here at Maine Historical Society are very happy to have access to the Longfellow Garden Club’s collection of photographs and sketches of the once-iconic Children’s Gate, which provided a more formal entrance to the garden in the early-to-mid-20th century.

Built just after the original library opened in 1907, the gate was taken down in 1960 due to its dilapidated state. The gate had been designed by the architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow to honor his uncle Henry’s famous affection for children.

Alexander Longfellow's original Children's Gate sketch, 1924.

Once the restoration of the Longfellow Garden was completed in 2010 following the renovation of the Brown Library, MHS embarked on a special fundraising campaign to re-create the Children’s Gate. This effort was initiated by a generous gift from the Longfellow Garden Club, and it is their historic images of the Gate have helped our designers and builders replicate the original plans.

While construction on the gate has begun (at Windham Millwork, where nine different trades will be involved in crafting the gate), MHS still needs your help to reach our fundraising goal. To date, nearly $55,000 has been raised–in addition to the Garden Club, donations have come from the Garden Club Federation of Maine, Oakhurst Dairy, and many generous MHS members–but we hope to raise at least $70,000 to complete the Gate.

So we hope you will consider making a donation to the Children’s Gate project. For more information, please contact the development office at 207-774-1822 or use our secure online form.

Thank you!

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About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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