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A New Face to Prohibition in Portland, Maine

New England was almost never new to the idea of Prohibition a hundred or more years ago.  In fact, although the United States as a whole put Prohibition into place on a national level in 1918, Maine had already had the ban in place all the way back in 1851.  In those days, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) took care to make its way onto the scene, fighting (sometimes literally) for the abolishment of alcohol.  A hundred years after Prohibition is just a part of the history books, the WCTU has decided to join in the crusades against the ideas of legalizing marijuana, or at least educating people on the ill-effects that the group believes marijuana produces.


More than a century ago, a leader in the crusades to end alcohol sales and use in the Portland, Maine area, Neal Dow, roamed the streets while lobbying for Prohibition.  Along with the Dow name came a huge brick home, which became known as the Gen. Neal Dow House and which has also since found its way onto the National Register of Historic Places.  During the fights to start and keep Prohibition going, the house became a meeting place for the WCTU and other activists that were fighting for their own social and political beliefs.  After the end of Prohibition, the number of members in the WCTU remained high until around WWII, at which time the numbers began to fall starkly.


The mansion, which went from a hall of Crusaders to a home of drug addicts, has been falling into disrepair for years.  Now, with marijuana fueling a new fight for a different type of prohibition, the WCTU has decided to step into the building and bring new life to the old structure and the old fight for their beliefs.   Although the local breweries and liquor stores aren’t likely to see the busting bottles that were a part of the scene years ago, the new crusades will revolve around marijuana.  Luckily, those currently involved in the project report that they’ll be much more low-key than their group’s ancestors.