Deering Oaks

Portland, ME
United States
Deering Oaks

Landscape Information

A 55-acre naturalistic park, Deering Oaks is the last remaining parcel of the 260-acre Nathaniel Deering farm, established in 1761. Originally a large tidal flat that drained into Back Cove, the marsh was turned into a mill pond with tidal gates in 1806. In 1879, city civil engineer William Goodwin prepared a design that closed the tidal gates to create a four-acre pond and enhanced the shoreline with peninsulas and inlets (one crossed by a bridge wide enough for carriages) to give the illusion of a larger pond. Goodwin’s plan also disturbed as few trees as possible, provided generous parkland with lawn and trees around the pond, and added a network of paths and roads with direct connections to city streets. Formal play areas were added after 1902.

Deering Oaks retains much of its historic appearance, particularly around the pond. Today the park is known for its stands of red and white oaks (some more than 200 years old), paths, play areas, ball fields, and a historic warming hut, known as the Castle, built in 1894 and restored in 2005. The Karl Switzer Rose Circle installed in the 1930s contains over 600 roses. Deering Oaks was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.