PORTLAND — The Maine Historical Society (MHS) is excited to announce that it has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Leon Levy Foundation (New York City) to launch a major initiative that will care for and provide extensive public access to its signature architecture and landscape architecture collections. 

The initiative will support the acquisition and processing of the professional archives of renowned Maine landscape architect Patrick Chassé and the development of a new online portal on the Maine Memory Network (www.mainememory.net) dedicated to celebrating Maine’s architecture and landscape design heritage. The initial phase of this work is also being supported by a legacy gift of the Maine Olmsted Alliance for Parks & Landscapes, now part of MHS. 

Shelby White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation, said, “We are delighted that the Leon Levy Foundation can help conserve and make digitally available the Maine Historical Society’s exemplary collection of the state’s unique landscape and architectural heritage.”  

Chassé, a Caribou native, has helped define a landscape architecture aesthetic that is quintessentially Maine—creating gardens and landscapes that blend with, complement, and subtly enhance Maine’s natural environment. His permanent archive at MHS will document all aspects of his career, including commissions in Maine, across the country, and beyond, collaboration with clients including major institutions across the country, work on some of Maine’s most iconic gardens and landscapes, and his stewardship of Maine’s landscape architecture heritage.  

The Leon Levy Foundation grant will also support the first phase of development of a major new portal on the Maine Memory Network, MHS’s nationally-recognized digital platform. The portal will introduce the public to Maine’s built environment and provide a vast reference resource for architects, landscape architects, garden designers, property owners, restoration contractors, and the general public, including 7,500 architecture commission records and hundreds of landscape design survey records created by the Maine Olmsted Alliance. It will include interpretive guides prepared by Earle Shettleworth Jr. and Patrick Chassé, and sample images for each commission. The database will be expandable and enable other institutions and private individuals to add Maine-related records and information from their collections. 

MHS collections include architectural and landscape design commissions dating from 1850 through the present with strong holdings from Bangor, Lewiston, and Greater Portland. Highlights include the work of John Calvin Stevens, Frederick Tompson, John Thomas, the Coombs Firm (Harriman), Eaton Tarbell, Wadsworth-Boston, Beal DePeter and Ward, Quentin Armstrong, LC Andrew, and Gridley Barrows. This grant supports a broad initiative to expand access to and use of these collections and process recent acquisitions—including the archives of Francis Zelz, Bisson & Bisson and Peter Munro. 

MHS is seeking additional sponsorship and funding to develop and expand this initiative.