History of the Club
In 1877 The Cumberland Club was organized as a voluntary association “for the purpose of mutual enjoyment of cultural and social amenities.” In that same year, the Club was incorporated by a special act of the Legislature, marking the beginning of a new social era for those who use their voice to influence Maine and enrich the communities in which they live.
Early members include Civil War hero turned Governor and President of Bowdoin College Joshua Chamberlain (for whom the Chamberlain Bar is named), Governor Percival Baxter and the fiery Speaker of the House for most of the nineteenth century’s final decade, Thomas Brackett Reed.
The Maine temperance movement began well before the Eighteenth Amendment was passed. During Prohibition, The Cumberland Club served a different purpose for many members. While it was illegal to sell or manufacture alcohol for consumption during this period, the law provided a gray area when it came to possession of a personal collection. The Club became, in effect, a common private room for members to store alcohol and socialize. In fact, the current U.S.S. Maine Room played host to many of these “private” social events. Authorities found a loophole since Club owned glasses were used to serve the alcohol at these quiet soirées, seizing 500 bottles in total and setting a dubious precedent for search and seizure in Maine.
From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Olympia Snowe and Hillary Clinton, national players have long found a warm place to relax at the Cumberland Club. This tradition continues to this day – you really never know who you may run into.
History of the Building
Built as a private residence in 1800, a full 20 years before Maine would become the nation’s 23rd state, the building in which The Cumberland Club resides was built by John Kimball, a prolific builder of Federal-style homes in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Kimball built the house for Steven McLellan, a prosperous merchant and ship owner. The British embargo during the War of 1812 caused the McLellan fortune to dwindle. The house changed hands several times during the next few decades. The last private owner of the house was Mr. H. R. Jose, one of the owners of Portland Glass Company. Examples of this decorative glass can be found within the USS Maine Room. The building was spared from the destruction of Portland’s last great fire in 1866 and in 1896 would become the home of The Cumberland Club.
Completely handicapped accessible, the Club’s main floor contains four dining venues, the President’s Room, the sun-filled casual Atrium, the Chamberlain Bar and the gracious formal dining rooms.
Facing High Street, two formal living rooms, the Red Room and the Main Lounge feature comfortable seating, major works of art and working fireplaces.
Private dining rooms of various sizes, the boardroom, the ballroom and the newly renovated billiard room are available for business or social use.