Summer in Maine is a time when people can’t wait to get out of the house.

But as it turns out, it’s also a good time to get into a house.

That’s because summer is when Maine preservation and historic groups often hold house tours. The self-guided tours often feature a half-dozen properties that you can browse in one area, such as the Greater Portland Landmarks Deering House Tour this Saturday in Portland.

Others are tours of one extensively decorated — and large — home, such as the Decorator Show House events presented by Museums of Old York. This year’s show house — the Emerson House in York Village, dating from 1719 — will be decorated by local designers and open to the public July 16 through Aug. 13.

Here’s a rundown of some of the house tours scheduled for this summer in southern Maine: 


Greater Portland Landmarks Deering House Tour, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $35 in advance, $45 on the day of tour. Greater Portland Landmarks, 93 High St., Portland.; 774-5561. Tour begins at Woodford’s Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland.

This is a tour of seven private homes and three gardens in the historic Deering Highlands and Coyle Park neighborhoods of Portland, with architectural styles ranging from Greek Revival, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival to Shingle and Craftsman.

There’s an 1896 Shingle-style cottage where the owners, both artists, have their studios. There’s also a mid-1800s home that had been remodeled in the 1960s but restored to its original glory later on.

There’s a home designed by renowned Portland architect John Calvin Stevens — who worked from the late 1800s into the early 1900s — and there’s another Shingle-style home that features a period billiards room.

The tour is a celebration of a recently published Greater Portland Landmarks book, “Deering: A Social and Architectural History,” by William David Barry and Patricia McGraw Anderson. The book covers the evolution of Portland’s off-peninsula neighborhoods.

Greater Portland Landmarks is also planning a Deering-centric event 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at its Spring Historic House Gala, held in a 1910 Colonial Revival Home in Deering Highlands. At 6:15 p.m., there will be a talk on the architecture of the Deering area by Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. Tickets are $50, and are available through Greater Portland Landmarks.


Rufus Porter Museum House Tour, Webb/Gallinari House, Main and Church streets, Bridgton. 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. $25.; 647-2828.

This tour of 10 historic properties in Bridgton is a fundraiser for the Rufus Porter Museum and Cultural Heritage Center. Porter (1792-1884) was a well-known mural painter, inventor and founder of Scientific American magazine. The museum is in the midst of an expansion.

Properties on the tour will include a Greek Revival from 1870, a Gothic Revival home, a renovated farmhouse dating to 1830, and a water-powered coffin factory, built by the town’s first undertaker in 1868. The tour headquarters will be the Webb/Gallinari house, a 1798 Georgian home, at the corner of Main and Church streets. 

JULY 16-AUG. 13

Museums of Old York Decorator Show House, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Emerson House, 31 Long Sands Road, York Village. $20.; 363-4974.

In this annual fundraiser for the Museums of Old York, a historic property is decorated room by room by local designers. So people not only get to see a historic home, they get some decorating ideas as well.

This year’s home is a Georgian Colonial that dates to 1719, when it was a tavern. John Adams is known to have stayed here, in one of the rooms used today as the living or dining room. Edward Emerson bought the tavern in 1793, and members of his family have lived in it for more than 200 years.

The house was renovated in the early 1900s, but in a way meant to meld with the older sections. Remnants of the tavern remain, including pine paneling, a low-beam ceiling and older wooden doors.

Designers from all over New England will be re-doing some 20 areas of the home, from main living areas and bedrooms to halls, the study and office. They will bring in new furniture, wall treatments, lighting — whatever they need to make the room over. Although the house is not open for tours until July 16, there will be a preview gala event from 6 to 9 p.m. July 15. Tickets are $50, and are available through Museums of Old York. 


Paris Hill House and Garden Tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Paris. Tickets are $20, available at the Marble Farmstead, 57 Lincoln St., Paris. 743-6862

The Paris Hill Community Club is hosting this tour of 14 homes in the historic village of Paris Hill, north of the town’s commercial center, South Paris. The tour is a benefit to help maintain Academy Hall, a former schoolhouse built in 1856 that now serves as a community center.

Houses — with gardens — on the tour include homes built in 1802, 1818, 1826, 1840, 1853 and 1885. One of the most carefully restored homes on the tour, according to organizers, is the Jarvis Marble homestead on Lincoln Street, built in 1840. The restoration included the house, barn and garden. The Birches, built in 1885, is an 18-room property with five baths and five working fireplaces.

The village is in a National Historic District, and the town is the birthplace of Hannibal Hamlin, the first vice president to Abraham Lincoln.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]