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Shopper’s Diary: Evangeline Linens in the Second-Oldest Building in Portland, Maine

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Shopper’s Diary: Evangeline Linens in the Second-Oldest Building in Portland, Maine

April 7, 2021

There’s something somewhat transporting about the Instagram feed of Maine-based Evangeline Linens. Spend enough time scrolling through, as I frequently do, and you get the sense that you’re not in your apartment but wrapped in a wool blanket in a rustic cabin in the woods of Acadia National Park in northern Maine.

Which is why it fits that the blanket company’s newly opened brick and mortar is housed in an equally atmospheric place: the second-oldest building in Portland, Maine, one of only a handful of buildings that somehow, by chance, was still standing after the Great Fire of 1866 destroyed most of the city. The building, at 332 Fore Street, was once, according to Portland Landmarks, the store and home of one Samuel Butts, built somewhere around 1792. And a hand-written 1924 assessment (viewable in the Maine Memory Network archives) lists the building as a store and 22-room hotel, with rooms available for $3 per week. (Sadly it’s noted that the rooms were “usually full,” the condition of repair “poor” and the age of the hotel “very old.”)

In its preserved and updated 2021 iteration, Ben Ray, founder of Evangeline, has transformed the exposed brick-and-beams structure into a dark and eclectic space befitting the Evangeline style. The inspiration? “The way Maine feels to me,” says Ben. “Its landscape is moody, rugged, and wild.”

Take a look at the Evangeline Studio: equal parts “showroom, creative/workspace and shipping space (downstairs), candle-making space, and a space where we can sit and hang with clients,” according to Ben. (And click at the bottom of the post to see the building as it was a century ago, in 1920.)

Photography by Erin Little, courtesy of Evangeline Linens.

After

the newly opened studio, where the company&#8\2\17;s blankets and throws ar 9
Above: The newly opened studio, where the company’s blankets and throws are on display alongside vintage bric-a-brac, also for sale. “Currently I’ve been obsessing over collecting antique hip flasks from the early 1900s and vintage pottery,” says Ben. “I have a few different ‘secret spots’ around Maine that I like to drive to and pick through. When something sells it will give me an excuse to hunt for new things.”
the interiors, including display shelves, are painted in benjamin moore&#8\ 10
Above: The interiors, including display shelves, are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Hidden Falls, the dark spruce hue Evangeline uses on their tags.
an array of patterned merino throws against exposed brick. (take a look at more 11
Above: An array of Patterned Merino Throws against exposed brick. (Take a look at more throws on offer here.)
a wall is papered in green sanctuary wallpaper from burke decor. 12
Above: A wall is papered in Green Sanctuary wallpaper from Burke Decor.
Above: “The space is an extension of our home living room,” says Ben. “Pretty cocktails and whiskey in teacups are part of that vibe, too. Why not have a cool little serving area? We plan to ‘work late’ often.”
a back room is painted in benjamin moore&#8\2\17;s colorado clay. &#8\2 15
Above: A back room is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Colorado Clay. “The antique stretcher was buried under a bunch of vintage blankets and Christmas ornaments at a junk shop,” says Ben. “I had just signed the lease for the new space in downtown Portland and it seemed so fitting.”

“The only thing not for sale in the space is the antique drafting table,” he adds. “It belongs to my father-in-law and was his very first desk at his first job in Portland.”

Before

before—a storied space but a clean slate. 16
Above: Before—a storied space but a clean slate.

To see the structure at 332-334 Fore Street as it was in 1920, via Maine Historical Society, head here.

For more virtual shop visits, see:

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