See & Do
History buffs or those simply curious about Portland’s origins will find much to like about Portland’s West End. True to its ethnic diversity, this neighborhood features two destinations especially worth visiting: the Maine Irish Heritage Center (www.maineirish.com, 34 Gray Street, 207-780-0118) and the Museum of African Culture (www.museumafricanculture.org, 13 Brown Street, 207-871-7188). Located in the historical landmark that was St. Dominic’s Church, a hub of Portland’s Irish community, the Maine Irish Heritage Center features special programs that celebrate the contributions of Portland’s Irish community. Here you’ll find everything from Irish step dancing lessons to seminars focusing on famous Emerald Isle author James Joyce. Meanwhile, the Museum of African Culture is the only museum in northern New England that focuses on Sub-Saharan arts and culture. Here you’ll find an impressive 1,500 piece collection containing such choice artifacts as wooden masks, bronze figurines, clay vessels and ivory flutes from societies that continue to flourish in this ancient region of Africa.
Yet another West End highlight is the Portland Fire Museum (www.portlandfiremuseum.com, 157 Spring Street, 207-772-2040). Here you’ll find several visually striking exhibits which pay tribute to the work and heroism of Portland’s firefighters through the decades. Housed within the museum’s collection are antique fire engines, fire house equipment, paintings and photographs that are well worth viewing.