The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association
Portland’s Hidden Educational Institution
Who We Are
Founded in 1815, the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association was part of a movement to set up mechanics’ institutes, which operated as craft guilds to promote and support the “mechanic arts,” practiced at that time by anyone using tools to ply a trade. Mechanics’ institutes also housed lending libraries intended to broaden the education of their members—the MCMA’s library is the eighth oldest membership library in the country.
Founded in 1815, the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association was part of a movement to set up mechanics’ institutes worldwide. They operated as guilds to promote and support the wide variety of skilled tradespeople such as shoemakers, hatters, blacksmiths, bakers, shipbuilders, and furniture makers – and their apprentices. In addition, they were the nineteenth-century institutes of invention and innovation. Mechanics’ institutes also housed lending libraries intended to broaden the education of their members. The MCMA’s library is the eighth oldest membership library in the country.
Who We Will Be
With its approaching bicentennial in 2015, MCMA is re-envisioning its mission and goals to better serve Portland’s creative community. MCMA is engaged in a strategic planning process that addresses how the organization can best serve the “new mechanics” of the 21st century.
MCMA is starting with upgrades to its National Register building, and has already received several grants to upgrade the building’s exterior. An analysis of what needs to done to meet Life Safety code requirements so the Ballroom can be opened to the public has been completed.
MCMA + Acorn+ The Ballroom
MCMA’s partnership with Acorn Productions will be the first beneficiary of the building improvements, as well as the first major programming initiative of the “new” MCMA. Acorn Productions will be using the Ballroom for workshops/classes, its roster of productions, and other events central to Portland’s theatrical scene. Together with Acorn Productions, we are now seeking funding to complete the work in time for the 2014-15 season!
The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association is a 501(c)(3) organization with headquarters at 519 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101. The MCMA Trustees are Bradley C. McCurtain (President), John Lefebvre (Treasurer), Donna Knoblock (Secretary), and Thomas Blackburn, Stephen Halpert, Sam Mateosian, Reggie Osborn, and Earle Shettleworth (Trustees). For more information, call Librarian Pat Larrabee at 207.773.8396 between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, Tuesday through Thursday; visit the website at http://www.mainecharitablemechanicassociation.com/.