Where are you traveling to this summer? If you’re a tourist or resident of Maine, there is so much to experience, including some wonderful architecture. Summer is arguably the best time to be in Maine, and while here, there are many exciting and important locations worthy of a visit.

For an architect, experiencing architecture firsthand is essential to one’s design education. This June I will be traveling across Finland with 12 University of Maine at Augusta architecture students and one other faculty member to experience and study the architecture of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. For our students this trip will expand their horizons and design sensibilities.

It will, quite literally, change their lives.

Our impending trip has me thinking about special architectural locations right here at home, so here are some buildings and locales that are well worth a visit this summer.

The Portland Museum of Art

The Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art

The public face of the Museum is the Charles Shipman Payson Building opened in 1983, designed by Harry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed Architects. However, the Museum’s three architecturally significant buildings unite three centuries that showcase the history of American art and culture. Together the structures allow one to walk through time while experiencing the Museum’s wonderful art collection. (Portland)


Photo by Melanie Sochan Dec. 8, 2015 Victoria Mansion in Portland is decked out in holiday decorations for the 32nd Annual Christmas at Victoria Mansion. Pictured is the stair hall (second floor) which was decorated by Danny R. Hatt, Don Chouinard and Marcedas Hatt.

Victoria Mansion in Portland

Victoria Mansion

Architect Henry Austin of New Haven, Connecticut, designed this much-loved Portland landmark that many consider one of the most important historic homes of the nineteenth century anywhere in the nation. (Portland)

John Ewing/Staff Photographer: Sunday, October 14, 2007....People begin to gather for the Grand Reopening ceremony of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art following its closure for the past two years for construction of its new landmark building on the Brunswick campus.

Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Located in Brunswick, the original museum was designed by New York City architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White, and complete in 1894. In 2007, Boston firm Machado Silvetti Architects lead a renovation of the museum, adding a jewel box for an entry that actually brings one down under the collection. A must see for any lover of art or architecture. (Brunswick)

Staff Photo by John Ewing, Wednesday, August 10, 2005: The buildings and lands owned by the Society of Shakers at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester will be preserved in perpituity in an agreement to put historic and conservation easements on the 200 year old site.

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village

Established in 1783, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine is home to the only active Shaker Community in the world today. Expressing a wonderful simplicity, with seventeen historic structures from the 1780s through the 1950s, the Village continues to be a place where the Shakers live, work, and worship. If you plan ahead, you can even sign up for workshops teaching traditional Shaker craft making. (New Gloucester)


Castle Tucker in Wiscasset

Castle Tucker in Wiscasset


Castle Tucker

The Castle is dramatically sited on a hill overlooking the Sheepscot River, in Wiscasset. The historic home tells the story of a prominent shipping family’s life on the coast of Maine over a period of 150 years, and offers a wonderful time capsule of life at the turn of the twentieth century. (Wiscasset)

The Blaine House, Maine's governor's mansion, is seen Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, in Augusta, Maine. Gov.-elect Paul LePage, who will be sworn into office on Jan. 5, has started to move his personal items into the house. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The Blaine House in Augusta

Blaine House and Maine State House

Located in the state capitol, the State House was designed by Charles Bulfinch, and completed in 1832. Tours are available of these important civic buildings Monday through Friday. (Augusta)

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observation Tower in Stockton Springs

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observation Tower in Stockton Springs

Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observation Tower


Located in Stockton Springs, the structure boasts the tallest bridge observatory in the world. In fact, it’s taller than the Statue of Liberty, and offers spectacular 360-degree views of the Penobscot River and Bay, the Maine countryside, and the distant western mountains. Historic Ft. Knox is here too, making the trip well worth the drive. (Stockton Springs)


Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts

This vibrant work of architecture is wonderfully fitted to the Maine landscape. Located on the Atlantic Ocean in Deer Isle, Maine, the school offers workshops in variety of craft media including clay, glass, metals, paper, blacksmithing, weaving, and woodworking. The campus was designed in 1960 by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, and in 1994 was awarded the American Institute of Architects, one of only 40 buildings in the United States to receive this distinction. Summer tours are offered Wednesdays at 1 p.m. Call ahead. (Deer Isle)

Wherever your travels may take you this summer, do take the time to experience what wonderful things our built environment has to offer. Safe journeys!

Eric Stark teaches and coordinates the architecture program at UMA, where he has been for the past 10 years. Professor Stark also maintains a small architectural practice in Portland doing residential and institutional work. His research includes community partnering, the use of diagram in architecture, and furniture design.

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