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"Monroe College"

Since joining College Guild in June of 2018, I'm often asked where the name "College Guild" came from. Our founder Julie didn't have a really clear story about it but referred to the idea of a guild as an association of people with similar interests or pursuits. There was also a loose reference to "college" being slang for going to jail.


So today, I'm adding more to that story which I hope will bring a big smile to your face. It certainly made me smile!


Recently I was helping my daughter paint rooms in an apartment she is renting. The apartment borders Monroe St in Portland, Maine. She shared a story about her dad telling her that the city jail used to be at the bottom of the hill on Monroe St. They referred to it as Monroe College!! Her dad is a wonderful story teller, especially about this area of the city where he grew up.


This brought the biggest smile to my face as it was the first time I've heard anyone refer to jail as "college." Then I had to do a little digging and I found this photo of the jail and a very brief snippet of information from the Portland Press Herald, our local newspaper.

Image courtesy of the Portland Press Herald Archives.


Cumberland County Jail. 25 Monroe Street. Portland, Maine 1965. The jail was demolished in 1966.


The former Cumberland County Jail was located at the corner of what is now Monroe Court and Anderson Street. Back then, Monroe Street extended all the way from Washington, through Greenleaf, to Anderson. Urban renewal saw the street severed into two pieces and renamed.


The Jail, sometimes nicknamed "Monroe College," by former inmates, was located at Monroe and Anderson Streets.


I also grew up in Portland during the 60's. I remember walking by that building. I also remember the beautiful Elm trees that used to line the city streets. The jail is gone, replaced by a more modern facility and the Elm trees are also gone. Destroyed by the Elm beetles.


Next time someone asks you why we use College Guild as a name you'll have a great short story to share.


Let's call this my parting story for College Guild as I retire soon. The best organization I've had the great pleasure of being a part of in order to make a positive difference in the world.


Many thanks to all of you,

Mary Malia








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