One of the few buildings to survive the devastating fire of 1866 is the Portland Observatory. Built in 1807 as a way for commercial ship owners to know when their vessels were entering the harbor, this 86’ octagonal tower is one of the only remaining wooden maritime signal tow- ers in the country. Its unique profile is one of the defining features of our coastal city, and the views after climbing its spiral staircase are spectacular and panoramic. If you can’t get enough of historic archi- tecture, you can stay at an historic bed and breakfast decked out in antiques, some with operating fireplaces in the par- lors and rooms. The Inn at St. John (1897) is the oldest continuously operating Vic- torian hotel; comfortable rooms with pe- riod details are a bargain find if you don’t mind the lack of an elevator. Also on the
peninsula, the Portland Regency is a full- service hotel housed in a late 19th century armory, a marriage of historic sophistica- tion with modern amenities. Greater Portland is also steeped in his- tory and oozing visual appeal. On a drive along Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth, you’ll see brick, stone, and wooden man- sions that overlook the sea. Route 88 in Falmouth and Cumberland Foreside is also lined with stately homes. Yarmouth and Gorham exemplify traditional New England villages with distinct town centers surrounded by lovely houses. Freeport’s downtown has become a world-renowned shopping destination with many boutiques occupying historic buildings; even the Freeport McDonalds is a tourist destination, located as it is in an historic village home.
Photos Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Corey Templeton, Robert Witkowski, Convention + Visitors Bureau, Black Point Inn, file photo (2)