The Great Portland Fire of 1866 destroyed much of the city, but locals eventually rebuilt and carried on, in the best tradition of the American can-do spirit.

On Monday, two Portland Independence Day celebrations will recognize the 150th anniversary of the fire. The Maine Historical Society will offer walking tours of the fire route, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra will play music selected to commemorate the dramatic event, as prelude to a fireworks show.

At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. the historical society will offer walking tours of the route of the Great Fire ($15) as well as tours of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House (also $15), which is run by the historical society. Visitors can view the new exhibition “Images of Destruction: Remembering the Great Portland Fire of 1866,” featuring objects that survived the fire and art depicting the fire.

Also Monday, the historic society will host a free reading of the Declaration of Independence. Local historian Herb Adams will read in front of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, 489 Congress St., Portland. For more information go to

Later on Monday, the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration, “The Stars and Stripes Spectacular,” will take place on the Eastern Promenade. The Portland Symphony Orchestra will begin a selection of patriotic tunes at 7:40 p.m. with the fireworks show starting at around 9:20 p.m. The orchestra will play during the fireworks.

Music Director Robert Moody said he chose this year’s music to commemorate the dramatic fire. Selections will include “1984 Olympic Fanfare and Theme” and a compilation of music from the newest “Star Wars” film plus “Stars and Stripes Forever” and other patriots works. The performance by the PSO will be broadcast live on Portland radio station WHOM.

The event has included a guest performing along with the symphony every other year since the privately funded event started in 2010. Last year singer Melissa Manchester appeared and in 2013 singer Don McLean took the stage. This year is an off year, in terms of celebrity guests.

Vendors will start selling food and souvenirs around 2 p.m. for people who want to gather early. For more information on the “Stars and Stripes Spectacular,” go to

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