The Victoria Mansion Portland Maine is an exceptional example of the design principles and architectural styles of the 19th century. Throughout the years the original interiors and ornate decorations of the Victoria Mansion Portland Maine have miraculously remained intact. Thus, this opulent Maine mansion serves to remind us of the pre civil war era, when the wealthiest Americans lived in the same manner as European royalty.
The Victoria Mansion Portland Maine is also known as
the Morse-Libby house. It was designed and constructed
between 1858 and 1860 for Ruggles Sylvester Morse and
his wife Olive Ring Merrill Morse. Morse was one of Maine’s
prodigal sons who left for a period of time to become
a proprietor of luxury hotels in New
Orleans. His success as a proprietor made him well
aware of the fundamentals of excellent design. When he
decided to build a summer home, he had access to the country’s
best designers and architects.
Henry Austin of New Haven Connecticut was the architect for his Maine mansion. Because of his attention to detail, Victoria Mansion Portland Maine is considered to be the best example of Italian Villa style architecture in the United States. The asymmetrical Maine mansion is composed in brownstone which is organized around a majestic four story tower. The graceful verandas and elaborately carved window fixtures add to its beauty.
The interiors of this Maine mansion were designed by Gustave Herter, who founded the well-known New York design firm Herter Brothers. Since Victoria Mansion is Herter’s earliest and still intact commission, it is a popular Portland attraction for architectural and interior design enthusiasts. In fact, over 90 percent of the original furnishings of the mansion have survived. These include furniture that was made in the Herter workshops, exquisite wall paintings, artworks, carpets, gas lighting fixtures, stained glass, porcelain, silver, and glassware. The mansion was constructed with technologies that were ahead of there time, such as central heating, gas lighting, hot and cold running water, and a servant’s call system.
Since the Morses were childless, when Ruggles died in 1893, Olive sold the mansion to Joseph Ralph Libby who was the founder of a prominent Maine department store. For the next 30 years, the members of the Libby family would occupy the Victoria Mansion. In doing so, they carefully preserved the building, as well as its furnishings. When the Libby children moved out in 1928, the future of the mansion was uncertain. Fortunately, the building was saved from demolition by a retired educator by the name of William H. Holmes. In 1941, the mansion opened as a museum. It was named after Britain’s Queen Victoria. It is now managed, preserved and operated by the Victoria Society of Maine.
During the Christmas season, the Victoria Mansion is a frequently visited Portland attraction. It is festively decorated by professional, designers and florists. If you like Victorian cards and jewelry, you will want to pay a visit to the Museum Gift shop. This Portland attraction is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 1:00pm to 5:00 PM.