2013-09-27 / Community

A Window on the Past

Pleasantdale neighborhood on display at museum
By Kathryn DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society

Those familiar with the South Portland Historical Society’s museum know that we feature one of South Portland’s neighborhoods each year. Last year, we exhibited the history of the Thornton Heights neighborhood. Next year will be the Willard neighborhood, but for 2013, the Pleasantdale area in the center of South Portland has been the featured exhibit.

Pleasantdale covers the area between Anthoine and Evans Streets, from Highland Avenue to Turner’s Island on the Fore River. Quite appropriate for 2013, as this has been a very active and evolving neighborhood this year, with the opening and closing of Frosty’s, the reopening of J.P. Thornton’s CafĂ© and Deli, the opening of Tony’s Donuts across from Amato’s, and the soon-to-be coming pizza place and bowling alley.

The accompanying photograph comes from the Ed Inness collection and shows the area at the heart of Pleasantdale in the early 1950s. Broadway runs left to right at the bottom of the photo and Elm Street runs perpendicular to it in the middle.

At the top, center, you can see the Elm Street United Methodist Church on the right side of Elm Street on the corner of Chapel Street.

At the bottom, center, you can see the building, also at the right side of Elm Street, which is still there today with Diva Hair Studio and several other occupants – but in the early 1950s, Ward’s Drug was operating in that store front with, from what I hear, a really awesome soda fountain.

By the 1970s when I lived in the neighborhood (you can see the very edge of my house at the lower right of the photo), L & A Variety was the corner store.

That was back when it was 5 or 10 cents for a box of Good & Plenty or Boston Baked Beans, and soda was sold only in glass bottles.

I remember clearly when the “Big Boss” of Pepsi arrived on the scene and you could now buy your soda in that huge 2 quart (not liter) plastic bottle – never seemed to taste as good as a cold soda in a small glass bottle, though (that reminds me of The Pop Shoppe in Mill Creek in the ‘70s, but I digress).

If you start at the Broadway intersection and count the rooftops on the other side of the street, you’ll see that the third building to the right is rather long – that is the old Pleasantdale Red & White grocery store, run by Frank Demmons at the time this photo was taken.

By the late 1960s, the business there was T’s Variety and an explosion destroyed the building; in 1969, the House of Frames opened in a new building on that site and it continues in operation today.

Our thanks to the very generous local businesses who sponsored our Pleasantdale exhibit this year: Duval’s Service Center, Flynn & Company Real Estate, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, and Town & Country Federal Credit Union.

If you want to see the Pleasantdale exhibit, please make plans soon. The exhibit will be on display only through 2013, and hours will be changing at the end of October.

We are open now through Oct. 27, daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. After Oct. 27, we will change to our weekend-only hours: Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through December.

The society’s museum is known as the Cushing’s Point Museum and is located in Bug Light Park – at the eastern end of Broadway, take a left on Breakwater Drive, then turn right onto Madison Street that leads into the park.

You can also reach us at 767-7299 or on Facebook at South Portland Historical Society.

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