Died in 1888 at age 36
Greetings from Portland. Sweater weather is here. Every day this month I’m telling a story that bridges the gap between this world, and the next. I’m resurrecting the memory of Portlanders who’ve crossed over to the other side by posting one video each day, relating the tale of one, interesting “permanent Portlander.”
Franklin Stanwood was born at Portland’s Alms House in 1852. He was adopted by Captain Gideon Stanwood of Gorham at just a day old. He grew up to be a sailor, just like his old man. But he was an artist at heart.
After voyaging to Europe and around Cape Horn to South America, he became a successful, self-taught painter. In his early 20s, he left the sailor’s life behind and opened a studio at 191 Middle Street in Portland.
Until sometime this spring, you could see his vandalized, but still lovely headstone, in the Western Cemetery. It had a carved palette and paintbrushes on it.
City officials told me that family members removed the stone, though they didn’t tell me why.
Stanwood was known for landscapes, house portraits and especially for his paintings of ships at sea — since he had real, first-hand knowledge of their rigging and design.
If you Google him right now, you can find a whole bunch of his work pretty easily.
He also helped found what would become, eventually, the Maine College of Art.
Stanwood died, in his parents’ Gorham home, at 36, in 1888, of consumption.
Disclaimer: I’m not a historian. I owe everything I know to the dedicated research of those who have come before me. These character sketches are assembled from multiple (often antique) sources and sprinkled with my own conjecture. I’m happy to be set straight or to learn more.