In 1815, the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association was the fellowship for Portland’s creative community: the blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, and more. Today we’re working to connect that history to the modern makers movement. Our mission is to inspire and enrich the community by promoting ingenuity, creativity, innovation and the diffusion of useful knowledge.
Since the beginning, MCMA has been the premier club of master craftspeople, entrepreneurs and their apprentices. Our members include Maine’s do-it-yourselfers, community leaders, the ingenious, and the industrious. Together, for over two centuries, we remain committed to supporting the practice of craft and the acquisition of knowledge.
519 Congress Street is Mechanics’ Hall. Built in 1859, it houses a grand ballroom, our members library, and a historic classroom. Gallery space, commercial space, and meeting areas are available for member activities, ongoing rentals, and special occasions.
MCMA was an integral part of Maine’s story. Started in 1815 as a guild to teach and promote excellence among Portland’s various mechanical and artistic trades, the founders recognized that together their blended efforts could make a difference in their community, and, in their words, “warm the heart and reanimate the smile.” Carpenters, glass workers, sailmakers and other craftspeople, exhibited at the associations’ various fairs, held lectures, participated in parades with trade banners, and socialized at the hall.
The MCMA library remains the oldest non-academic working library in our state, founded in the same year as Maine. Begun as library for apprentices and tradesmen, and still housed in the historic Mechanic’s Hall, its modern goals, collection, and acquisition policy are currently under review to fit the needs of the twenty-first century mechanic. The library is a wonderful, peaceful, oasis in the heart of the city, where one can come to find (or lose themselves in) a great book.