2012-05-04 / Community

A Window on the Past

Thornton Heights once home to country club
By Kathryn DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


The Portland Country Club pictured here in 1898. (Courtesy photo) The Portland Country Club pictured here in 1898. (Courtesy photo) As the South Portland Historical Society reopens its museum at Bug Light Park for the season on May 7, one of the featured exhibits will be the Thornton Heights neighborhood in western South Portland. Some may not know this interesting piece of Thornton Heights history, but an 18-hole golf course covered much of what has become residential streets and homes.

Portland Country Club originated in 1895 under the name Portland Golf Club, using a 12-hole golf course set up near Fort Preble. In 1897, the club rented the “Thornton Farm” in Thornton Heights and set up a golf course there. The club then purchased the land in 1898 and had the two-story clubhouse (shown, at right) built.

After almost a decade, the club had grown to a point where it needed a new clubhouse, so they built a new building in 1907 (next page) on a site that is close to where St. John’s Church was later erected. This was right on the trolley line and was a grand building indeed. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed by fire in 1913, which led to the club’s decision to move to a new location, in Falmouth Foreside, in 1915.


The club was rebuilt in 1907, but destroyed by fire in 1913. (Courtesy image) The club was rebuilt in 1907, but destroyed by fire in 1913. (Courtesy image) Since many homes in Thornton Heights have been built on the site of the golf course, it is no surprise that we oc- casionally hear of residents digging up golf balls in their gardens.

Our thanks to the following business sponsors of our 2012 Thornton Heights exhibit: Casco Bay Steel Structures, Flynn & Company Real Estate, Higgins Carpet One, and Town & Country Federal Credit Union.

Starting May 7, the museum will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October, with no admission charges thanks in part to the generous support of these local businesses. For more information, call the museum at 767-7299.

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