Committee passes Sen. Maxmin bill to help conserve the Frances Perkins Homestead

Posted: March 15, 2021 | Education and Cultural Affairs, Senator Maxmin

AUGUSTA — On Monday, a bill sponsored by Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, which would allocate funding to help conserve the Frances Perkins Homestead in Newcastle, was approved by the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. LD 440, “An Act To Conserve the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark,” passed in committee 7-5, with one member absent.

“I’m grateful that the committee sees the value in helping to preserve this landmark,” said Sen. Maxmin. “Frances Perkins was an American pioneer who stood up for working people and paved the way for women in government. By preserving her family homestead, we honor her legacy and provide essential learning opportunities for Maine students and visitors – not only about Frances and her story, but about what life in midcoast Maine has looked like over the centuries.”

Frances Perkins served as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Perkins was the first woman appointed to a cabinet position and was an instrumental figure behind New Deal programs including Social Security, unemployment insurance and a minimum wage. Her homestead sits on 57 acres in Newcastle and was owned by the Perkins family from the 1750s until its transfer to the Frances Perkins Center in 2020. Frances herself owned the homestead from 1927 to 1965. The property abuts the Damariscotta River and includes a Brick House built in 1837. The homestead was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 2014, and serves as an educational site and resource for Mainers and those from around the world. 

LD 440 would allocate $100,000 in funding to help the Frances Perkins Center repair the structure and ensure safe entry, parking and accessibility to the site. A prestigious $500,000 grant awarded to the Center by the National Parks Service in August 2020 requires the Center to procure $824,000 in matching funds, including in-kind service. Any allocation from the state will contribute to these matching funds.

LD 440 now faces votes in the Senate and the House.