Posts Tagged With: Portland

From Druggists to Pizza and Beer in the Old Port

Industry and tourism rarely, if ever cooperate with each other, and one always wins out over the other, with the loser usually being snuffed out like a spent cigarette. Portland’s Old Port district seems to have figured out a way to buck the trend, and where once Portland’s waterfront was a haven for the maritime industries, other businesses have sprouted, grown and moved along, the area slowly morphing into today’s Tourist playground, playing with that ancient of industries as though they were meant for each other.

We can look back through the rearview mirror we call history and see what has become of some of those businesses. Today, I’ll look at the address of 94-96 Commercial Street, and see what has become of that particular address perched on the corner of Commercial and the Custom House Wharf. Today, it houses a fine little pub called Andy’s Old Port Pub. Over a century ago this same building housed a wholesale pharmaceutical company called the John W. Perkins Company.

A bit of narrative follows as we read from George Bacon’s 1891 Representative Businessmen of Portland:

JOHN W. PERKINS & CO., Wholesale Druggists and Dealers in Paints, Oils and Dye Stuffs, 94 and 96 Commercial St. and 2 and 4 Custom House Wharf, Portland, Me. John W. Perkins, Benj. A. Perkins, J. Henry Crockett. Among the wholesale drug houses of Portland not one occupies a higher position than that of John W. Perkins & Co., and indeed in all New England there is not a firm of jobbing and manufacturing druggists who enjoy a better reputation throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and the provinces as a reliable jobbing house who make a specially of furnishing a superior quality of drugs, medicines, preparations, etc., regarding which they might well adopt the motto “Not how cheap, but how good.”

They have long enjoyed an extensive jobbing trade in the field above named, and are better prepared than ever to sustain their time-honored reputation. This business was founded in 1853 by Messrs. Perkins & Titcomb, and the present firm name was adopted in 1855, the partners then being Messrs. John W. and Benjamin A. Perkins. Mr. J. A. Titcomb entered in 1863 and retired in 1868, and the firm is now composed of Messrs. J. W. & B. A. Perkins, both natives of Weld, Maine, and Mr. J. Henry Crockett, a native of Norway, Maine. Mr. Crockett entered the firm in 1869, and has been prominent in public as well as in business life. He was connected with the city government several years, and has served as president of the Common Council.

The firm utilize very spacious premises at Nos. 94 and 96 Commercial St. and Nos. 2 and 4 Custom House Wharf, and carry a very heavy stock comprising not only drugs, medicines, chemicals, proprietary remedies and druggists’ sundries but also paints, oils and dye stuffs of every description. They are prepared to furnish any or all of these commodities in the very largest quantities without delay, employment being given to 24 assistants. No manufacturing druggists’ preparations are considered more absolutely and uniformly reliable, and this is the legitimate result of the policy pursued by this representative house, for they take great care to use the purest drugs and employ the highest skill and the most improved facilities in their manipulation.

Their list of standard pharmacentical preparations is very complete and is constantly being added to, for the firm are progressive as well as reliable and new preparations that have proved their value and been endorsed by the medical profession are at once manufactured and kept in stock. Samples are furnished to any physician or druggist who will give them a fair trial, and the number of physicians who specify “Perkins”‘ when prescribing standard preparations is significant evidence of the result of such trial. It has long been a conceded fact among the trade that no concern in the state furnishes more reliable goods of standard merit and fills orders more accurately and satisfactorily in every respect.

Prior to Perkins’ occupation of this address, a John H. Cox ran a trading company at 94 Commercial. It also appears as though the upper floors may have been utilized as a sail making shop by several craftsmen. Many businesses have occupied the building since then, with the Perkins company changing hands and names about 1920 becoming Brewer & Co. Inc. The Brewer Company continued in the wholesale pharmaceutical trade for some time.

A fire that destroyed the upper floors of the building precipitated the transfer of business between the Perkins and Brewer. As the business reduced its size over the years, the building became divided repeatedly into smaller rental spaces, with a photographer by the name of S.S. Skolfield occupying space in the building at the time that Brewer and Co. utilized the building.

The names and dates of the businesses that have occupied this space are too numerous for this small space, but today, the address is occupied by Andy’s Old Port Pub, of which you can find a poem and some video I took of the block one evening. Many of you may remember the not so distant tenant of the name of Casco Variety, a convenience store that sold a great many items, from food and drink to odds and ends.

Categories: history, Maine, Maine video, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May Sarton 100th Anniversary Event at MoOY

Maine state historian to talk Civil War monuments
Sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society, the program is open to the public. Maine’s memorial monuments range in location and age, from Bangor in 1864, while the war was still in progress, to Lisbon in 1999. Many feature standing Union soldiers…

Don Perkins: Freeport takes pride in 1800s warship
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, and the Freeport Historical Society is paying tribute with a special program on May 6 titled, “Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights — The War of 1812.” The town has significant connections to this…

Old radar station to become energy park near Moscow, Maine

MOSCOW, Maine — A former U.S. Air Force radar station in Maine’s northern forest has been purchased by a trio of New England companies including Cianbro of Pittsfield, according to a release issued by the companies Monday. The others two companies involved in the purchase…

In death, Portland woman reunited with long-lost love

Teresa Getchell spent decades seeking the truth about her husband’s wartime death in 1969

May Programs From the Museums of Old York:

3-6 May Sarton 100 Anniversary Event. Come celebrate the life and times of Poet and Author May Sarton! In collaboration with the York Public Library and the First Parish Church, the Museums of Old York will be hosting a Centennial Symposium of May Sarton. Registration is filling up so please visit the May Sarton 100 Website for more information and to sign up for the symposium.

6 American Girl Doll Tea – in Jefferds Tavern–KIDS PROGRAM stop in from 2-4 p.m. You and your American Girl Doll are invited to a special Colonial tea. Dress yourself and your doll in your prettiest outfits for an afternoon of proper enjoyment. Sip tea and enjoy cookies in Jefferds Tavern while you learn about the American Girl Felicity who protested tea drinking during the Revolutionary War. Make a mob cap for you and your doll in the Parsons Center program room. $5 per person, tickets available at the door.For more information please contact Zoe Keefer-Norris or call 207-363-4974 x12.

18 Tavern Dinner. Join us for this month’s ever popular historic dinner. Relax and kindle new friendships as colonial ladies prepare a fabulous meal at the hearth. Keep an eye on our website for upcoming menus and announcements of unique entertainments. Sign up soon –these dinners fill fast! $35 ($30 members) at the Parsons Education Center, 6 p.m.

20 Blue Grass Jam with Kevin Dyer and Friends. 1-4 p.m. at The Parsons Center. $4 donation appreciated.

28 Buck-a-Building Memorial Day and Paddle-to-the-Sea. Come see the Museum properties, including the the Old Gaol, Emerson-Wilcox House, Elizabeth Perkins House, Jefferds Tavern, the School House, and our Exhibit, “The country heer is plentiful” Trade, Religion and Warfare in York and Southern Maine, open for $1 tours. At 2 p.m. families are invited participate in Paddle-to-the-Sea, a kid-focused program based on Holling Clancy Hollings children’s book by the same name. After hearing the story, build a little boat, label it with your family’s name and launch it down the river. Follow your boat’s journey to the ocean on our blog. $5 per mini boat at the John Hancock Warehouse. 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

News and Updates

Celebration of the Working and Playing Waterfront. A team of staff and trustees are looking ahead to summer and have been working to create an array of programs for 2012 all under the theme York’s rivers and ocean dominate its history. Celebrating our heritage on the water will take many forms. A series of fun and educational programs will be offered throughout June-July-August-September including a river regatta and barbeque, workshops, lectures and demonstrations on the history of lobstering, fishing, boat building, waterfront stories, riverscape painting, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, and more! A brochure will be coming out in May detailing all the offerings over the summer. See our website for a preliminary schedule of events — stay tuned for updated information.


Highlights of the Organization of American Historians in Milwaukie from the History News Network;

Highlights from the 2012 OAH Annual Meeting in Milwaukee

David A. Walsh


Categories: history, Maine, museum news, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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