Who We Are and What We Do

2017 Open Door Honoree, Joelle Gamble.

The Frances Perkins Center was founded in 2008 to make the exemplary work and career of Frances Perkins both better known to the American people and to preserve her policy legacy.

The Center inspires people to address current economic and social problems as Perkins would through work in the areas of education, outreach and advocacy. The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center is currently headquartered in downtown Damariscotta, Maine where it offers an interpretive exhibit on the life and achievements of Frances Perkins — the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet, a key advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and a lifelong advocate for social justice and economic security. Responsible for initiating groundbreaking New Deal programs that are a bulwark of American society today — Social Security, the 40-hour work week, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, and the minimum wage — Perkins had deep roots in Maine. Since founded in 2008, the Center has produced publications, sponsored conferences and research, and recognized leaders who exemplify Perkins’ values. Information on current programs, events, and activities are posted on this web site and shared in our monthly online newsletters and social media.

The Center seeks to acquire and preserve the place Perkins called home — her family homestead on the Damariscotta River in Newcastle. This 57-acre property was announced as a National Historic Landmark on August 25, 2014 by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The Center is currently studying alternative future uses for the Perkins Homestead that will preserve the site’s integrity while providing a home for the Center’s educational programs.

Visiting the Frances Perkins Center

The Frances Perkins Center office is located at 170A Main Street, Damariscotta, Maine which also features Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal, a free ongoing exhibit on her life and achievements. 2018 visiting hours, June through August, are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and by appointment year-round. For more information, please contact the Center’s office by e-mailing info@francesperkinscenter.org or calling (207) 563-3374.

Perkins HomesteadVisiting the Perkins Homestead

Frances Perkins’ ancestral homestead is a private residence maintained by the Perkins family. It is situated on a salt water farm consisting of 57 acres of woods and fields on the Damariscotta River listed as “The Brick House Historic District” in the National Register of Historic Places. Our guided tours provide a glimpse of the site’s history as a working farm, brickyard, and home to many generations of the Perkins family since the mid-eighteenth century, including Frances Perkins, its most notable member.

Joining us for a Homestead Tour

The Perkins Homestead is open to visitors on the following days in 2019:

Saturday, July 20, Saturday, August 3, and Saturday, September 7

Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

Tours begin with parking and transportation from downtown Damariscotta/Newcastle, ME. Two tour times are available for each tour day. The 9:00 AM tour lasts 3 hours and includes the Homestead and a walk to the Damariscotta River. The 1:30 PM tour lasts for 2 hours and includes only the Perkins home. Sturdy walking shoes and a hat are recommended. Bottled water and light refreshments will be provided. The Homestead is not handicapped accessible. However, if you have mobility issues please call us at (207) 563-3374 for more information.

Tours will be led by Frances Perkins Center Board members, and Perkins’ grandson, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall.

Please consider enhancing your Homestead Tour by stopping by to see our free interpretive exhibit about Frances Perkins, at 170A Main Street, Damariscotta. Our summer hours run from June through August,  Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Frances Perkins Center First Summer Research fellow, Jørgen Cleemann, 2011.

Kirstin Downey addresses FPC conference at Harvard Club of NYC in 2010.