We hope that South Portland residents enjoy our history column in the South Portland – Cape Elizabeth Sentry. We’ve been producing this weekly column since 2005. Over the years, we’ve used the column to not only share interesting tidbits of community history with you, but also to help us reach out to the public with requests for old photographs, artifacts and information about people, places and events that have played a part in the history of South Portland.

There isn’t always an immediate response, but these articles are also available in digital form and in our online museum, so it’s not uncommon for us to hear from someone in another part of the country, or world, months or years later.

An amber bottle from the Thomas F. Devine pharmacy was used to hold lime water. The bottle was recently accepted by the South Portland Historical Society from a donor in Australia. South Portland Historical Society photo

This was certainly the case when we recently heard from a woman in Australia. She had long enjoyed an old amber drug store bottle that decorated her home there, but decided to try searching the internet to see if she could find any new information about it.

The bottle had been used to hold lime water (a product that was recommended in early days for nausea, heartburn and upset stomach). The label also indicated that it was from the Thomas F. Devine pharmacy in South Portland, Maine. When she found our story about the Devine pharmacy at Legion Square, she reached out to us and offered to donate the item so that it would find its way home and be preserved.

The bottle is now part of the collections of the South Portland Historical Society.

This column changed somewhat last year. Of course, just as everyone was affected when the pandemic broke out in March 2020, so was the historical society. The interruption of our normal operations gave us the ability to switch gears and spend a greater amount of time addressing long-awaited research projects. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been researching various facets of local history and some of that research has been brought forward in the column here in the Sentry.


We’ve discovered and documented so much about South Portland’s history in the past year. It’s amazing just how much there is still to learn about.

Much of our research also ends up in our online museum. If you haven’t taken a look at our South Portland Online Museum and Research Library lately (you can find it at https://sphistory.pastperfectonline.com/), we encourage you to go and take a look. The online museum has already grown this year from 10,000 to nearly 15,000 images, with a vast amount of related written history, and we continue to add more to it each week.

We are so grateful to all of the people who have supported us financially throughout this time, allowing us to continue our work. With November now here, however, we need your help to reach our year end at breakeven and be ready for the coming winter heating bills.

Our annual appeal is kicking off now with a goal of $10,000 that we need to raise between now and the end of December. South Portland is a community that cares about preserving its incredibly interesting, varied and significant past, so this is a very achievable goal. If you appreciate the work that we do and enjoy reading these columns in the Sentry, we hope that you will join with your friends and neighbors to make this happen for our historical society.

When we all pitch in locally, we can make a big difference.

To donate by credit card, go to our Online Museum at https://sphistory.pastperfectonline.com/ and use the “Donate” button. You could also use your credit card by phone by calling the museum at 767-7299. To donate by check, please make it payable to South Portland Historical Society and mail to us at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106. You could also drop off your donation at the museum by using the mail slot in the front door.


Thank you for your support in ensuring that we have a thriving historical society in South Portland!

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. She can be reached at editor@inthesentry.com.

South Portland Historical Society – Annual Fund Drive 2021

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Please complete this form and mail with your tax-deductible donation to South Portland Historical Society, 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106. For donations by credit card, call 767-7299 or go to https://sphistory.pastperfectonline.com/. The society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


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