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 by honoring and preserving the legacy of the woman behind the New Deal.

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 its founding, 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, online newsletters, and social media.

January 3, 2020: The Center acquired the place Perkins called home — her family homestead on the Damariscotta River in Newcastle, Maine. 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 future uses for the Perkins Homestead that will renovate and preserve the site’s integrity while providing a new 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, and features Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal, a free ongoing exhibit about her life and achievements. 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 e-mail info@francesperkinscenter.org or call (207) 563-3374.

Perkins HomesteadVisiting the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark

Frances Perkins’ ancestral homestead is transitioning from a private residence maintained since the 1750’s by the Perkins family to new public ownership in 2020 by the Frances Perkins Center. The Homestead 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.

Homestead Tours

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. Visit our website to often to learn more details about Homestead tour offerings.

When scheduled, note that space is limited and pre-registration to participate in a Homestead tour is required.

Typically, 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. Water is provided. The Homestead is not handicapped accessible. However, if you have mobility issues, please call us at (207) 563-3374 for more information.

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

Center Board member Kirstin Downey, author of  “The Woman Behind the New Deal,”  copyright 2009, addresses a Frances Perkins Center conference at Harvard Club of NYC in 2010.

ALERT: Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) The Frances Perkins Center and Homestead are Temporarily Closed