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  • Little Water Girl In Portland Public Library
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Portland Public Library

5 Monument Way (Corner of Congress and Elm)

When the new Portland Public Library opened at this site in 1979, the Little Water Girl statue was moved from Deering Oaks Park to the courtyard, now in the front lobby of the Library. The statue honors Lillian Ames Stevens (1844-1914, site SD05), the second president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the first Maine president (site W04). Given to the City of Portland by the W.C.T.U. in 1917, it is a copy of the original bronze statue by English sculptor George Wade for the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago. The Maine WCTU supported women's suffrage, as well as temperance, and followed national president Frances Willard's "Do everything" policy, including establishing shelters for women in trouble and campaigning for a state women's reformatory. Willard said of Stevens, "The streets of Portland have not a sight more familiar, and surely none more welcome to all save evildoers, than Mrs. Stevens in her phaeton rapidly driving her spirited horse from police station to Friendly Inn; from Erring Woman's Refuge to the sheriff's office."

Among Portland's early women authors represented here are Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood (1759-1855), who wrote traditional sentimental fiction, and Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith (1806-1893), who supported women's rights in her stories, poems, and essays. Smith, who was probably the first white woman to climb Mount Katahdin, believed that women should be free to develop their talents and said, "There are thousands capable of a sphere beyond the fireside and being thus-qualified, they hold a commission from God himself to go out into this broader field."