The Victoria Mansion

The Victoria Mansion is considered a national historic landmark and a fascinating look into 19th century interior and exterior design. It is known for its overall  architecture and entrancing styled interior. The organization works on maintaining the building and sharing the history of the mansion with the public. From the artwork on the wall right down to the color scheme of everything inside the mansion, there is a reason for all of it. The house really helps capture the capture rich mid-century lifestyle in Portland.

The house is known for many of its features. It’s also known to be one of the best, least-altered examples of large Italian brick and brownstone homes in the U.S. The house has twin sinks in the guest bedroom (which was known to be a classy wealthy addition to the home) on the second floor; a Turkish smoking room, that is one of the first pieces of Islamic architecture in the U.S, carved marble fireplaces, and a flying staircase. 

Many events take place inside the mansion for adults as well as kids. Events like; Chilling Celtic Tales, Victorian Murder & Mayhem, Stories on the Staircase, Night of the Nutcracker with Portland Ballet, Tea Tasting, and other Scholarly Events. 

Tickets for students are $8 and the mansion is open from May 1st to October 31st. The tour can be guided or self-paced. It’s recommended to buy tickets in advance of arrival. 

Henry Austin is the architect of this building. He is also known for building New Havens City Hall, Bett’s House, Dana House, and Hillhouse Avenue Historic District. He was known mostly for his buildings in Connecticut. Indian architecture influenced Henry’s work and it is definitely noticeable in a lot of the details in his overall building design. Gustave Herter and Giuseppe Guidicini were the interior designers. Ruggles and Olive Morse were the ones who commissioned the house as well as the furniture and decorations inside. 

These men were not the only to take part in the creation of the mansion. Many lives were impacted by this building. Slaves were forced into the working of this building, back when it was considered acceptable however the current commissioners realize that which is why they created something called the “Unwilling Architects initiative.”

“The Unwilling Architects initiative, launched in 2021, aims to expand our knowledge of the Black and mixed-race individuals who played an unwilling part in the rapid accumulation of the Morses’ fortune, which underwrote the construction of Victoria Mansion. Though this work will be ongoing, an initial round of research has already allowed us to begin updating and expanding our interpretive materials and educational programming.”

The commissioner also explained that “The stories of the Black and mixed-race individuals and families impacted by the Morses are significant parts of the history of the Mansion, as well as the history of the United States as a whole.”  Can you include a story? Thankfully, this information doesn’t get neglected and the house is actively working on educating anyone who is interested in the mansion’s history.

One of the statues called “Reproof” is an interesting and fitting piece of art inside the mansion.

The Smithsonian describes it; 

“- a young girl sternly scolds her cat, who has just attacked a bird’s nest. She clutches the cat to her chest and looks at it disapprovingly, while waving her hand in discipline. Meanwhile, a dead bird lies at her feet and feathers hang limply from the cat’s mouth. Thaxter created an image that is more aligned with Victorian probity than with the carnality of the ancient gods. The savage little cat, which claws at its mistress’s dress (revealing her bloomers!), has indulged its appetites and must be corrected. ‘This scene,’ continues the Smithsonian, ‘is a prelude to the responsibilities of motherhood: the young girl who is now reprimanding her cat will have to ensure that her own children are well behaved in the future.’” This statue is my favorite in the mansion and really helps set the tone of other statues and art pieces on display around the house. 

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