Mayor Baxter Woods Informational Kiosk

Dublin Core


Mayor Baxter Woods Informational Kiosk


A three panel informational board, the first panel is a textual description of the history of Mayor Baxter Woods and how the land came to the city. The second panel is a map and the third panel is information about the flora and fauna of the woods.


Date Created

circa 1990



Temporal Coverage


Historical Marker Item Type Metadata


A Historic Act of Generosity
The land you are now standing on was once part of a sprawling, private estate known as Forest Home; originally constructed in 1830 by a politician named Francis Ormand Jonathan (F.O.J.) Smith. Forest Home, once boasted the largest private library in the state of Maine.

Forest Home occupied an interesting footnote in American History. In 1837, after witnessing a demonstration of Samuel F.B. Morse's electric telegraph, F. O. J. Smith became Morse's chief partner and promoter. At Smith's insistence, Morse spent several months at Forest Home working out the difficulties of laying underground cable in the fields of this park.

Shortly after Smith's death in 1876, Forest Home was purchased by Mayor James Phinney Baxter. Baxter promptly sold several acres on the nothern edge of the estate to the Roman Catholic Diocese, which is where the St. Joseph's Parish School now stands. On the Southern end of the estate, Baxter laid out seven residential streets which today still bear the names of his seven children: Clinton, Hartley, Madeline, Florence, Mabel, James, and Percival.

When Mayor Baxter passed away in 1921, he left Forest Home to his youngest son Percival Proctor Baxter. A successful politician in his own right, Percival Proctor Baxter served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives, two terms as a state senator, as well as two terms as governor. An avid outdoorsman and conservationist, Percival insisted that the land surrounding Forest Home be open only to occasional recreation, and as a result the area became known as "Baxter Bird Sanctuary."

In a simple ceremony on August 16, 1946, 29.5 acres of woodland was dedicated to the people of Portland as a gift in memory of his father and "As a Municipal Forest and Park for public recreation and educational purposes... forever known as Mayor Baxter Woods." While Baxter Woods is dwarfed by the 200,000 acres of land that Governor Baxter donated to create Baxter State Park, it significance to the people of Portland is every bit as meaningful.

Thanks to Governor Baxter's generosity, an area that was once a private estate owned by a single person is now a Municipal Forest and Park for all to enjoy.

"No cement walks, only paths and trails and there are to be no cultivated flower beds- it already is a wild flower garden- and it is to be a sanctuary for birds"- Percival Proctor Baxter


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City of Portland, “Mayor Baxter Woods Informational Kiosk,” Portland’s Historical Markers, accessed April 15, 2021,