Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta, Maine Has Much to Offer

While we “hygge” down under the restrictions of a Central Massachusetts winter, our thoughts may stray to a place where we might travel once the warm weather comes.  May I suggest a venture into Frances Perkins’ other home town?

Frances Perkins, born in Boston (at Worcester Square of all places!), was raised in Worcester and educated in Worcester public schools. She served in the Cabinet of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as Secretary of Labor, the first female ever to sit in a presidential Cabinet.

Although while Frances was growing up the peripatetic Perkins family lived in a number of residences in Worcester, it was the Brick House in Newcastle, Maine, a residence of Perkins ancestors from the mid-eighteenth century, that was the constant retreat of Perkins, seeking relief from the demands of work in Chicago, Pennsylvania, New York, and, of course, Washington, D.C.

The legacy of Frances Perkins is celebrated at the Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta, Maine. Although nothing can take the place of an actual visit, news of the programs and research conducted by the Perkins Center is available via a monthly newsletter.  The most recent edition is available at

Among the more interesting articles in the most recent newsletter is Rev. Charles Hoffacker’s reflections on the central role of faith in Perkins’ career.

And for those who subscribe to the notion that plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, I recommend the new feature of the newsletter “Then and Now,” comparing the challenges of Perkins’ era with the problems that persist to this day.  Frances Perkins, then the head of the New York State Industrial Commission, wrote an essay, “The Cost of a Five Dollar Dress” in 1933, describing in detail the sweat and hardship that went into bargain clothing:

In a New York Times article from September 2017 “The Real Cost of Cheap Fashion,” Laura Anastasia paints an almost identical picture of contemporary clothing manufacture on a global scale.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. More information on the Frances Perkins Center, its hours of operation, its programs (including open house at the Brick House) and its vision can be found at  .

Published Date: 
February 28, 2018