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The Deering neighborhood of Portland, Maine, is a storied neighborhood that has, throughout its long and rich history, been a part of two different Maine cities and at one point was its own town. The Town of Deering was established in 1871, being cut away from Saccarappa which contained large portions of the cities of Falmouth and Westbrooke, Maine. The split was necessary as a result of a sudden influx of population to the Deering area of Saccarappa following the 1866 Portland Fire, which displaced thousands. In 1892, Deering had grown large enough to be considered its own city, and then, in 1899, Portland officially annexed Deering as Portland itself grew far beyond its original size. Deering was named for the illustrious Deering family, who owned a large amount of the land within the town.

  • Deering High School, located in the Deering neighborhood of Portland, which was once the Town of Deering, on the 26th of March 2017, photograph by John Phelan of Wikimedia Commons

The land that would come to be known as the Deering neighborhood was originally partitioned for settlement in 1637 and was given for settlement to a man named George Cleeves.  Cleeves and a number of other settlers constructed habitations on the land throughout the mid-1600s, but were ultimately displaced from these colonies during conflicts with Native Americans in the area.  Sometime before this conflict, George Cleeves had passed the ownership of the settlement partition to Anthony Brackett.  When the Bracketts fled the site of their first farm, they established a second farm nearby.  This farm would, many years later, come into the hands of James Deering.

In 1802, James Deering purchased what was then known as Back Cove Farm.  He extensively renovated the farm and constructed on it a prestigious mansion in which to entertain his many celebrity guests.  The mansion was designed by an incredibly famous architect by the name of Alexander Parris, who also designed Boston’s world-famous Quincy Market.

Following the Great Fire of 1866, the land around the Deering Estate experienced a great influx of Portland citizens whose homes had been lost in the fire.  This prompted the State of Maine to redraw the lines of the Town of Saccarappa in 1871, which had contained the Deering Estate, into much of the Town of Deering.  As population shifted over the next two decades, a number of changes occurred in the Town of Deering. 

The Deering family sold a swath of its farmland to the City of Portland in 1879 for the creation of the permanently public park still known as Deering Oaks to this day.  This park has been a cornerstone of public life in Portland for almost 150 years.  In 1899, the growth of the City of Portland would lead the City of Portland to officially annex the City of Deering, making it into the Portland neighborhood of Deering at long last.  

As of the creation of this article in 2017, the Deering neighborhood of Portland contains some of the best preserved history of the Casco Bay Area and is recognized by locals and visitors alike for its beauty and legacy.

Deering, Maine. Accessed August 06, 2017.,_Maine. Meta-source for general information on the Town of Deering

Sovis, Emilie V. Deering Estate Barn. the Clio. July 21, 2017. Accessed August 06, 2017. Previous Research on the Town of Deering for another Clio Article by Emilie Sovis

Sovis, Emilie V. Deering Oaks Park. The Clio. July 17, 2017. Accessed August 06, 2017. Previous research on the Town of Deering for another Clio entry by Emilie Sovis