2012-05-04 / Front Page

Historical society prepares for new season

By Kristy Wagner
Staff Writer

The South Portland Historical Society showed off the newly remodeled interior of its home and museum, the Cushing’s Point House, on Wednesday.

The brick house that used to be on Madison Street was donated to the historical society by Portland Pipeline Corp. in 2009. On Feb. 14, 2009, the house was cut off its foundation and was moved across the street from Bug Light Park, which used to be the Liberty Shipyards during World War II. Since the grand re-opening of the historical society’s museum in the Cushing’s Point House in 2010, the new building has undergone many improvements to make it more welcoming and accommodating for visitors.

“It’s not complete yet. We are still mounting exhibits,” said Kathryn Diphilippo, executive director at the South Portland Historical Society.

Diphilippo said all public areas in the museum are newly carpeted and doorways were widened to better accommodate wheelchairs. The gift shop was stocked and ready for visitors and the exhibits were neatly arranged and laid out, ready to be viewed by guests.


Libby Chenevert helps welcome South Portland Historical Society board members and volunteers into the newly remodeled Cushing’s Point Museum in South Portland. Chenevert, an intern from the University of Southern Maine, helped historian Kathryn Diphilippo set up displays and update the museum archives. Improvements to the Cushing’s Point House included new carpets for public areas and widening of doorways for handicap accessibility. (Kristy Wagner photos) Libby Chenevert helps welcome South Portland Historical Society board members and volunteers into the newly remodeled Cushing’s Point Museum in South Portland. Chenevert, an intern from the University of Southern Maine, helped historian Kathryn Diphilippo set up displays and update the museum archives. Improvements to the Cushing’s Point House included new carpets for public areas and widening of doorways for handicap accessibility. (Kristy Wagner photos) “We’ve been doing it piece by piece,” Diphilippo said. “There is still a lot to be done.”

The official opening day for the museum is May 7 and the doors will stay open to the public until October. Admission to the museum is free.

Diphilippo spent the winter revamping the Cushing’s Point House with the help of Libby Chenevert, an intern from the University of Southern Maine, a history student in her senior year.

“I have been updating their archive software and we put in a new database,” Chenevert said. “I also helped out with setting up the museum. It was interesting to see the real history side (of the archives).”

Chenevert, of Freeport, said her internship program placed her at the historical society, but the experience has been of special interest to her since her father’s side of the family is from South Portland. Chenevert’s greatgrandmother used to own and operate a hair salon in the city many years ago.

“It’s been different to have her here,” Diphilippo said. “Having the help of an intern has made a big difference.”

Volunteers and members of the historical society’s board of directors strolled around the museum Wednesday to view exhibits that highlight South Portland history.


The Cushing’s Point House and museum on Bug Light Road houses the South Portland Historical Society. The house used to be on Madison Street until 2009 when the Portland Pipeline Corp. donated the building to the historical society. The building was cut off its foundation and moved to Bug Light Road where it recently underwent structural and aesthetic improvements. The museum opens up for the public on May 7 and admission is free. (Kristy Wagner photos) The Cushing’s Point House and museum on Bug Light Road houses the South Portland Historical Society. The house used to be on Madison Street until 2009 when the Portland Pipeline Corp. donated the building to the historical society. The building was cut off its foundation and moved to Bug Light Road where it recently underwent structural and aesthetic improvements. The museum opens up for the public on May 7 and admission is free. (Kristy Wagner photos) David Mishkin, outgoing president of the historical society, said the building has undergone an amazing transformation, which he attributes to Diphilippo’s hard work.

“Every year we improve 10-fold,” Mishkin said. “(Diphilippo) has done a lot with the displays.”

Mishkin’s presidency runs until May 23, when David Rooker will step in as the new president of the historical society.

Leslie Bartoux, a volunteer who works in the gift shop and also is on the board, said the upgrades to the building were “just gorgeous.” She enjoyed the exhibits with fellow volunteer, C.D. Sloatman, who is one of the docents for the historical society museum, as well as for the Observatory Museum in Portland.

Local radio personality and historical society board member Chuck Igo also came out to see the building improvements.

“There have been enough improvements to make the museum more accessible,” Igo said.

Igo said there was a leak in the cupola that had to be repaired and the historical society continues to add bricks to the outside walkway through the engraved brick program. The program allows people to purchase engraved bricks, which are laid in the walkway of the historical society.

“There’s always room for improvement with the brick program. We are always adding new bricks,” Igo said. “It’s a work in progress, like history is a work in progress.”

Staff Writer Kristy Wagner can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 219.

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