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.
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