a short trip to Maine

Portland, Maine

Last weekend I spent a great few days at a wedding in Portland, Maine.  I haven't been in New England much since my grad school days and, as usual, I spent some time looking at buildings, especially the large, frame houses of Portland.

 large Portland, Maine frame and siding house

large Portland, Maine frame and siding house

Like most places, Portland has a large variety of housing types and styles, representing architectural and building trends of hundreds of years.  However, there is a strong pattern repetition of Greek Revival detailing.  So much so, that you almost forget that this is an architectural style - it feels a bit more like a part of the landscape.  The houses are predominantly wood-framed and sided, with all surfaces painted, usually white with colored doors and shutters.

 a row of Portland houses

a row of Portland houses

Roof forms

The roof forms may vary from gable to hip to gambrel, but the detaling and proportions are consistently traditional and classical - trimmed vertical windows with divided lites, modest eaves with profile molding, columns and shutters abounding. Most roofs have eave returns, something we rarely see in Colorado, a detail requiring significant carpentry skills and careful proportions.

 trim details of Portland doorways

trim details of Portland doorways

Maybe because so many of the basic house forms are so similar, a lot of attention is focused on the entry.  These are beautiful examples shown above, all seen within the same couple of blocks, without full porches, but still clearly marking the entry and adding a flourish to otherwise simply built houses.

The vast majority of these houses are painted white and, on a sunny Labor Day weekend, that whiteness was a striking contrast to the stunningly blue sky and verdant foliage.  In my mind, that palette of blue, green and white is the color of a Maine summer - in the city and beyond. 

 view from Peaks Island

view from Peaks Island

 Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland Head Lighthouse