South Portland in Cumberland County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
Liberty Ship Memorial
This scenic point of land overlooking Portland Harbor, where Bug Light Park stands today, was once home to a sprawling World War II Shipyard that covered 140 acres of land, including over 60 buildings, and had the capacity to build up to 13 ships at one time. Between 1941 and 1945, the South Portland Shipyards built 266 cargo vessels, 236 of which were Liberty Ships, contributing immeasurably to the Allied victory in World War II.
When the war ended, so did the need for Liberty Ships and the Shipyards. In 1945, the Maine Legislature responded to growing concerns over the economic future of the area by forming the Greater Portland Public Development Commission (GPPDC), which acquired, leased, and managed the Shipyard properties. Since its inception, the GPPDC has brought employment and economic benefits to the Greater Portland area.
In 1996, a group of concerned South Portland residents organized to spearhead the effort to purchase and preserve a portion of the former Shipyard property for use as a public park. On December 30, 1996, with support from the City of South Portland, GPPDC, and the adjacent Portland Pipe Line Corp.,
The Liberty Ship Memorial was conceived as a tribute to the thousands of men and women who worked at the South Portland Shipyards; the seamen who faced the dangers of war on board the Liberty Ships; all of those who served in the war and their families; and the South Portland residents who shared their backyard with a booming shipyard.
The Liberty Ship Memorial would not have been possible without the vision and efforts of Ed Langlois (1921-1998), who worked tirelessly to preserve the memories of his fellow shipyard workers and the Liberty Ships they built. Dedicated in a public ceremony in November 2001, this Memorial strives to keep the spirit of the shipyard alive for future generations.
The centerpiece of the Memorial is a sculpture, constructed of steel and standing over 35 feet tall and 65 feet long. Creating a sculpture that would be faithful to the details of an actual Liberty required extensive research, since only two of the original Liberty fleet still existed and original construction drawings were incomplete. The design team travelled to San Francisco and Toledo to photograph and measure the ships so that the sculpture would accurately portray the bow section of the Liberty Ship
Details such as the size and spacing of the frames, height of the deck, welded plates, position of the gun turret, and color of the paint are among the many elements that remain true to the original Liberty's construction. The ships were launched from the shipbuilding basins with their bows out, and so the Memorial is oriented facing the bay. Aptly, the bow of the sculpture forms a chapel-like enclosure for viewing and reflection. Finally, the parking lot was paved to match the footprint of a Liberty Ship.
In 2003, The Liberty Ship Memorial's designer, Renner and Woodworth, received an Excellence on the Waterfront Honor Award from the Waterfront Center, Washington D.C., for this project.
The memorial committee gratefully acknowledges the Portland Harbor Museum's sponsorship and the use of resources and photographs from its collections. Please visit the museum for related shipyard collections and maritime history exhibits.
We would like to thank the following individuals and businesses for their dedication and generous support of the Liberty Ship Memorial/Bug Light Park Enhancement Project.
Fred Thompson, Bob Blackwood Co-Chairs
[List of Donors - not transcribed]
Erected by Greater Portland Public Development Commission, and Concerned Citizens and Organizations.
Topics. This historical marker memorial is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • War, World II • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical month for this entry is November 2001.
Location. 43° 39.206′ N, 70° 14.013′ W. Marker is in South Portland, Maine, in Cumberland County. Memorial is in Bug Light Park, on Cushings Point, off Madison Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: South Portland ME 04106, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Ultimate Sacrifice (here, next to this marker); South Portland and Its Liberty Ships (here, next to this marker); The Ugly Ducklings (here, next to this marker); The Yard (here, next to this marker); WWII: On the Home Front (here, next to this marker); Voyages for Victory (a few steps from this marker); The Work Force (a few steps from this marker); South Portland's Ships for Liberty (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in South Portland.
Also see . . .
1. South Portland's Wartime Shipbuilding. (Submitted on December 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Article on Liberty Ship Memorial Needing Repairs . (Submitted on December 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 2,782 times since then and 316 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.