The Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark in Newcastle. Submitted photo

NEWCASTLE — Inspired by Frances Perkins’ legacy, the Frances Perkins Center is rising to the challenges of the time. Each time she faced difficulty, Perkins, ever a problem-solver, would not merely carry on – she forged boldly ahead. In that spirit, the center will transform the traditional August garden party to a virtual event to host friends from around the globe.

The event can be seen from 5 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, on YouTube at Celebrate and applaud:

A Major Milestone: 2020 marks the Frances Perkins Center’s ownership of the historic 1837 Brick House – a National Historic Landmark – that was Perkins’ ancestral home. Take a virtual tour through the home that she cherished and meander through the gardens and surrounding 57-acre saltwater farm where she found respite surrounded by nature.

Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University Professor Emerita and past president of the Society of American Historians, 2020 FPC Intelligence and Courage Award Honoree. Submitted photo

2020 Intelligence and Courage Award Honoree Alice Kessler-Harris: Columbia University Professor Emerita and past president of the Society of American Historians, Kessler-Harris will present a portrait of Perkins’ role in reshaping the role of government as Americans faced the Great Depression. “What would Frances do?” has never been a more timely question as COVID-19 represents the greatest, most widespread threat to workers and economic security since the Depression. Solutions she forged then, including unemployment insurance, are the underpinnings of the safety net in this current crisis.

Opening dedication on April 16, 2009, of Frances Perkins Center incorporation at the U.S. Dept. of Labor headquarters, the Frances Perkins building, Washington, D.C. From left, FPC board members Christopher Rice; the late Gretel Porter; journalist Kirstin Downey; Elizabeth Allen; and Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall. Submitted photo

2020 Open Door Award Honorees – the founders of the Frances Perkins Center: Seven Lincoln County Maine citizens who recognized the need to honor and preserve the legacy of the woman behind the New Deal who believed that “The people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.” Founders include Frances Perkins’ grandson, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall; Mount Holyoke College trustee Elizabeth Allen; former Senior VP of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) Carla Dickstein, PhD; landscape design architect Christopher Rice; the Honorable Leah Sprague; former professor of Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies Susan Feiner, PhD; and the late labor organizer Gretel Porter.

Take in the atmosphere of the homestead and the perspective and inspiration of Kessler-Harris. Keep company with Perkins’ grandson and the FPC’s founders, board and staff, and the supporters who have made preservation of the landscape and the legacy of Perkins a reality, for now and for future generations. Go to or search for “Frances Perkins Center” on YouTube.

Frances Perkins (1880-1965), U.S. Secretary of Labor 1933-45, was the first woman to serve in a president’s cabinet and was a driving force behind New Deal programs that continue to provide financial security for all Americans, including Social Security, unemployment insurance and minimum wage laws.

To learn more about the center, call 207-563-3374, email [email protected] or visit

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