Mechanics’ Hall names Annie Leahy as Inaugural Executive Director

 

New post ushers in building’s 160th year as Portland’s home to the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA) – a historic center for creativity, learning and knowledge in the heart of Portland’s arts district. The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Annie Leahy as the organization’s inaugural Executive Director. Leahy will start her post on April 22nd. She joins Mechanics’ as the organization begins a process of planning for major building and facility improvements that will allow the Hall to present a wide variety of creative and artistic programs which honor the mission of the MCMA – to inspire and enrich the community by promoting ingenuity, creativity, innovation, and the diffusion of useful knowledge.

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Featured program: Makers at the Hall

 

Makers at the Hall is a lecture series held at Mechanics’ Hall on the last Wednesday of the month from January to May and September through November. Each talk is presented by a local Maine maker, a master of their craft. In an inviting and relaxed atmosphere, Mechanics’ Hall members and friends learn about a specific discipline and the triumphs and challenges of the speaker’s engagement with their medium. Past speakers have been Nick and David Wallace of Wallace Pipe Organs, Pandora LaCasse, Pilar Nadal of Pickwick Press, and Jonathan Cooper Luthier among many more.

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Welcome to MCMA

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.

We are the modern mechanics.

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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.