Greater Portland Landmarks honored the Cummings family with a Preservation Award last week for their effort over the last 20-plus years to restore and education the public about the Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland, the third-oldest African-American meeting house in the country. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND — At its annual meeting last week, Greater Portland Landmarks honored a local family who has been hard at work over the last 20-plus years to restore the Abbyssinian Meeting House on Newberry Street and honored four businesses that have been operating in Maine for more than a century.

According to Greater Portland Landmarks, the Abbyssinian Meeting House, built between 1828 and 1835, “was a center of social and political life for Portland’s Black community” for more than 80 years. It was closed in 1917 and converted to apartments. In 1991 the city took over the building and in 1998 it was purchased for $250 by the Committee to Restore the Abyssinian.

Since then, Leonard and Mary Jane Cummings, their daughters Pam Cummings and Deborah Khadraoui, and granddaughter Anisa Khadraoui have “boldly been leading the effort” to restore the building and have “worked tirelessly to educate the public about the historic importance of the building.”

Also at the meeting, Greater Portland Landmarks bestowed its inaugural Legacy Business Awards to four businesses, including two that have called Portland home for more than a century.

“Greater Portland is home to an extraordinary amount of local businesses that have really helped to define our character, our culture and, of course, our architectural history,” Executive Director Sarah Hansen said.

Among those honored were Bangor Savings Bank, HM Payson, J.B. Brown & Sons and Springer’s Jewelers. Bangor Savings Bank, one of the oldest banks in Maine, was founded in Bangor in 1852 and has been operating in Portland since 1998. Springer’s Jewelers, Maine’s oldest jewelry store, opened in Saccarappa (now Westbrook) in 1870. In the early 1900s it moved to 515 Congress St. in Portland and in 1947 moved to 580 Congress St., where it has operated ever since.

HM Payson and J.B. Brown & Sons were founded by city residents and have a much longer history in Portland. Henry Martin Payson started HM Payson, one of the oldest privately owned independent investment firms in the country, in 1854 on Exchange Street. Today the firm, located at One Portland Square, manages $4 billion in assets for more than 1,200 clients.

J.B. Brown & Sons was formed in 1830 by John Bundy Brown and has been passed down through the family over the last 190 years. The company developed much of Congress Street, Commercial Street and the West End and continues to own, develop and manage residential, commercial and industrial properties across the city.

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