From Maria Wolff, Maine Craft Portland Manager

Our team at Maine Craft Portland has enjoyed opening our doors to the public with great praise and patronage for our craft artists! Currently, Maine Craft Portland is representing over 100 MCA members and is steadily growing. The historical cabinets in our gallery housing our members’ work have been the highest talking point as patrons walk through the door.

Where did the cabinets come from?

From Maria, Maine Craft Portland Manager: I thought I would take a moment to share the history of our new space and the Maine Charitable Mechanics’ Association it resides in. You will soon learn how perfectly stationed Maine Crafts Association is in Mechanics’ Hall to further drive the history of Maine makers forward:

The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association was founded in 1815 as a craftsman’s guild to teach and promote excellence among Portland’s various mechanical and artistic trades. Carpenters, Glass workers, Sailmakers, Shipbuilders and Riggers, Ironworkers, Stone Cutters, Brick Masons, Jewelers, Watchmakers and Nautical instrument makers, Furniture makers and similar tradesmen all learned their skills and crafts through Apprenticeship education sponsored by this Association. The Library was started in 1820 in various locations around the city for the education and enlightenment of apprentices and members until finally having a permanent home, built by its members in 1859. The Association sponsored many fairs and expositions to showcase the skills of local artisans and tradesmen. Many lectures by prominent speakers and dances in the grand ballroom were held in the Hall. For many years groups of various trades would march down Congress St. proudly carrying beautiful banners with slogans to promote their trades. A free school for Mechanical and Architectural drawing was started in 1875 and continued for over a 100 years until 1983. The Association stills supports mechanical and architectural education through scholarships and grants in local schools.

Carter Brothers presided over a hundred years in what is now Maine Craft Portland in the left street level side of the building. Carter Brothers had built these glorious display cases in 1890 that many are remarking on today in our gallery.

Enjoy this historical article about Carter Bros, its history and the integrity they carried for generations. An inspiration and aspiration for us all!

From Portland past and present, 1899:
Carter Bros. Co.
“Unquestioned reliability” is a term that can be applied as characterizing the concern of Carter Bros. Co., whose jewelry store is located in the historic Mechanics Hall block, at the corner of Congress and Casco streets. On Portland’s main thoroughfare, in the heart of the shopping district, this establishment is regarded as one of the landmarks of the Forest City. The business was started by A. Dunnyon in 1854. After the big fire in 1866, Mr. Dunnyon moved into the store in Mechanics Hall block, where he conducted a successful business until 1872, when he was succeeded by the firm of Carter Bros., the company comprising Abiel and J. W. D. Carter. In 1898, the senior member, Abiel Carter, died, and since that time J. W. D. and Willis E. Carter have composed the corporation. This store is to the city of Portland what Tiffany’s is to New York. It is the largest and best jewelry establishment in New England, east of Boston; it carries a large stock of diamonds, watches, jewelry, silverware, cut glass, etc., and has won a reputation which could be built up to its present standard only by years of strictly honest dealings with the buying public. Customers throughout the state have come to understand and rely upon the fact that whenever they make a purchase at this store, whether it be large or small, whether the purchase is made personally or otherwise, they get just what they pay for. This element of confidence shown by the public in a business firm, is not unique, but it is so uncommon as to be worthy of note, in this case. Articles in gold, sterling silver, or cut glass, coming from the store of Carter Bros. Co., are regarded as correct for all occasions of importance in the highest social circles. A force of eight competent and courteous clerks is employed in this store, and watch repairing and engraving receive the personal attention of experts. The individual members of the firm occupy a prominent place in the jewelry trade of New England. They are expert judges of diamonds and other precious stones, and are personally popular with all their customers. In their business no detail, be it ever so small, is beneath their consideration, and no commission, however large and important, is beyond the scope of their ability. The store of Carter Bros. Co., is one in which Portland people take pardonable pride.”