Nathan Clifford School

An Oakdale anchor since 1909

The early years of the twentieth century brought about an impulse for reform as the Progressive Movement and City Beautiful Movement swept the nation. John Calvin Stevens championed these ideals and incorporated them into his design of the Nathan Clifford School. The movements were aimed at parks, street paving, sewers, and other forms of beautification and improvement of public health, and coincided with a period in which Portland experienced one of its greatest building booms. Millions of dollars poured into the city from large-scale projects between 1850 and 1914—these projects included the Portland Museum of Art, City Hall, the Exposition Building, and the Nathan Clifford School.

The Nathan Clifford School was built from 1907-1909 and served as an anchor of the Oakdale neighborhood in Portland, Maine for over one hundred years. The school offered a number of important contributions to the educational and social history of the neighborhood and greater region. For example, in 1932, the Nathan Clifford School began offering a sight-saving class for visually impaired students, the only program of its kind in the state, and provided students with poor eyesight the opportunity to learn in an environment where studies (often done orally) and equipment were designed specifically for them (e.g. ruled nonglare paper with larger spaces between the lines, bigger pieces of chalk, large print books, and typewriters with blank keys). The Nathan Clifford School stands out for both its architectural style and educational foundation.