Workers take a break for a photo while driving piling at the new United States Shipbuilding yard in 1917. South Portland Historical Society photo

In this then-and-now look at South Portland, we see a waterfront scene in the Knightville neighborhood. The historic photograph was taken around the time of World War I and in my effort to locate the exact spot, I took the current-day photo just this past week down at Anchorage Place (the townhouses that are located on the waterfront, behind the Snow Squall Restaurant on Ocean Street).

This is the rough location of the Nathaniel Blanchard and Thomas Knight shipyard (active from roughly 1850-1868), and the Joshua Randall/Daniel Brewer shipyard in the 1870s. After the shipyard closed in 1877, the site was left vacant until World War I when Count Marion Rafailovich purchased the land and created a new shipyard, United States Shipbuilding.

If you’d like to learn more about United States Shipbuilding, I encourage you to come and visit the society’s museum at Bug Light Park where we have an exhibit covering all four of South Portland’s World War I shipyards. The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 22.

A current-day photo shows the same view from Anchorage Place. The townhouses at Anchorage Place are built on filled land, of course, but the ships from the old Thomas Knight yard would have been launched across this general area now covered by the townhouses and South Port Marine. The Knightville neighborhood gets its name from Thomas Knight, the master shipbuilder. South Portland Historical Society photo

The historical society is still active through the winter. To reach the society in the off-season, call 767-7299, email [email protected], or talk to us on Facebook at South Portland Historical Society. Thank you for your support.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales – recital at museum this weekend

We are thrilled for the return of society member Jack Nordby to the museum this coming Sunday, Dec. 8, at 1 p.m. for his annual recital of the Dylan Thomas holiday classic. “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” is a light, much-loved, almost lyrical tale of childhood Christmas memories. Filled with alliteration, this 25-minute star of Thomas’ work is best heard aloud for the music in the words.

Jack has performed this recital for us for many years now and it is always a pleasant and relaxing interlude to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon during the holiday season. He recites the story from memory and his rich baritone really brings the characters to life. This is a free event, open to the public.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society.

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