Fifth Maine Regimental Museum, Peaks Island
On Sunday September 11, 2011, I took a trip with my wife and stepson to Peaks Island to visit the 5th Maine Regimental Museum and Battery Steele. After a pleasant 15 minute ferry ride from the Portland Ferry Terminal we arrived on Peaks Island. The museum is about ten minute walk from the ferry terminal. You start by simply taking a right on Island Road at the first intersection at the top of the ferry ramp and continue along as the road bends gradually to the left. The museum is architecturally designed in the Queen Ann style structure with a wrap-around porch. From the back, it commands a beautiful view of the island’s rocky shore and the ocean beyond.
David W. in front of the 5th Maine
158 Seashore Ave
The 5th Maine Regimental Museum 45 Seashore Avenue, Peaks Island was built in 1888 largely by veterans who served in Maine’s 5th Regiment during the Civil War. It was built as both a structure to honor the fallen of the 5th Maine and as a place for surviving veterans and their families to have reunions and spend summer vacations. The 5th Maine consisted of between 1,000 and 1,500 men. Three of the ten companies were soldiers from Portland (circa 1860s a company was composed of roughly 100 soldiers). At its peak use by Civil War veterans and their families, the building had 15 sleeping rooms for families on the second floor and several kitchenettes on the ground level. The building's architecture is in the Queen Anne-style with a wrap-around porch.After climbing a broad wooden staircase you reach the beautiful deck which is covered by a wrap-around
roof. There is an entry room with a staircase to the left, assorted literature about the building and a basket for a suggested $5 admission fee. Then you proceed into a magnificent great hall. The most attention- grabbing features for me were the many stained glass window panes in red,orange, yellow, and blue, each engraved in the middle with the last name of one of the soldiers who served in the 5th Maine. We were there on a very sunny day and the effect of the sun coming through the colored glass was quite beautiful; giving the great hall a magical feel.
There are many interesting civil war relics displayed in glass cases along the outer walls of the room. There are assorted musket/Minnie balls, a piece of the stockade fence from Andersonville Prison, various cannon balls and explosive shell fragments, some swords and at least one rifled musket. In a room off to the side is a regimental flag which was carried by the regiment during the war.
On the second floor of the building there is a room to the right at the top of the stairs which is furnished in the style of the 1880s when people would have visited there. Also there are rooms with historical memorabilia and photos, including a room devoted to WWII, and a small library..
View from the back porch of the 5th Maine Regimental Museum
Another aspect of the 5th Maine which I found appealing was the authentic feel of the place. Our tour guide was a volunteer who was passionate about the museum and Civil War history. I also really appreciate museums like 5th Maine in which you can get closer to objects and artifacts. I found the 5th Maine Regimental Museum to be a charming, informative and very interesting piece of Maine and U.S. history.