The board of the Fifth Maine Museum recently raised $70,000 to replace the 30-year-old roof that caps the historic Peaks Island museum. Courtesy / Fifth Maine Museum

PORTLAND —  The Fifth Maine Museum on Peaks Island has a new roof, just in time for the museum’s annual Harvest Fest, the culminating event of its 2019 operating season.

“We successfully met our goal to fundraise for a new roof,” said Susan Hanley, president of the museum’s board of directors. “Now we are waiting for the next big rainstorm to make sure it is good.”

Hanley said $70,000 was raised as part of the Raise the Roof fundraising campaign. A celebration is set to take place next spring.

“The community response was great – so many people on the island participated, including some descendants of the original Fifth Maine Regiment Civil War veterans,” she said.

The work was done by Casco Bay Roofing of Portland. Owner Mike Norris said his company was on the island last year to replace the roof at the 8th Maine Regiment Lodge and Museum and has done work on other old buildings.

“It’s no different than any other old building in the city of Portland. Things just wear out over time,” he said.


The need for the work was first noticed last winter when the 30-year-old roof began leaking. The project quickly became the top priority for the board, which sought to raise the necessary funds and take care of the issue before winter weather hit.

According to Hanley, the leak damaged an upstairs storage room and a room below the turret. There was minimal damage to the downstairs hall, where much of the programming occurs. Norris said his crew replaced rusted flashing and old roof shingles. The rotten shingles on the sides of the building will be replaced by Mike Langella, a construction professional who serves as head of the museum’s building committee.

Hanley said because of the building’s age, there is always some sort of repair needed. The building was constructed in 1888 as a memorial and reunion hall by veterans in the Fifth Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which served from 1861 to 1864 and saw action in several notable Civil War battles. In 1956, the building was given to the Peaks Island community to serve as a museum devoted to the history of the regiment and island.

Although the board hired a contractor to fix the roof, members hold workdays when possible to tackle projects like painting or staining. That allows the group to “preserve our funding for the work we can’t do ourselves,” Hanley said.

Repairing the interior damage will begin after the museum closes for the season on Saturday, Oct. 14.

“(The museum) will be closed, but we will be hard at work figuring out what else we need to do,” Hanley said.

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