By Carol McCracken
The public is invited to visit the Portland Observatory when it opens for the season on Saturday, May 23. It’s located at 138 Congress Street and is open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tours are offered throughout the day with the last guided tour departing at 4:40 p.m.
The Observatory was built in 1807 and is one of Portland’s important historic structures. This unique architectural icon from the maritime era is the only maritime signal station still in existence in the United States today. Sea captain-turned-entreprepreneur Lemuel Moody (l768-l846) ordered construction of this octagonal 86 feet high tower to serve as a communication station for Portland’s bustling harbor. With this powerful telescope, Moody identified incoming vessels and then signaled merchants with coded signal flags. This provided merchants advance notice to reserve a berth on the wharfs and hire a crew to help unload the ship.
The Observatory is managed by the Greater Portland Landmarks. Please call 774-5561 or visit www.portlandlandmarks.org for more information.