On October 20, 2005 Battery Steele was officially listed in the National Register. This designation was the culmination of a several yearlong process with many contributors including Kim MacIsaac, historian Joel Eastman, Christi Mitchell, Architectural Historian, with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and a handful of other Peaks Island residents.
The historical background of Battery Steele has now been officially recognized as unique and noteworthy. Islanders old enough to have a personal recollection of, or connection to, the Second World War, remember Battery Steele as the most important fortification within the Peaks Island Military Reservation which at one time comprised 198 acres of Peaks Island--more than 25% of the island’s total area.
Battery Steele was designed to protect Portland Harbor from the largest enemy battleships of the war period. For technical buffs, Battery Steele housed two 16-inch guns that were capable of propelling a 16-inch shell weighing 2,240 pounds up to 30 miles.
Many islanders know the Battery as a special place to play or "hang out." Others know it as a place of celebration, most notably perhaps for the “Sacred and Profane” event that has become an island tradition. In fact, Battery Steele has special meaning to almost everyone who knows and loves Peaks Island.
Battery Steele, now part of a 14-acre preserve, is stewarded by the Peaks Island land Preserve (PILP) the island organization instrumental in shepherding the site’s application for National Registry designation.
Here are a few questions and answers that may help shed some light on Battery Steele’s recognition:
Q: What is the National Register?
A: The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Q: What are the criteria to be on the National Register?
A: Criteria used includes evaluating the quality of significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, and culture that is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, material, workmanship, feeling and association.
Q: What are the effects of being listed in the National Register?
A: Listing in the National Register gives official recognition to the historic and cultural importance of a property as part of the nation’s heritage that ought to be preserved. Battery Steele is also now afforded protection from adverse impact by projects funded, licensed or executed by the Federal Government. Control and authority over the use and disposition of the property fully remains with the Peaks Island Land Preserve (PILP).
Battery Steele is one important parcel of a number being preserved and stewarded by The Peaks Island Land Preserve. Given the development pressures experienced here on Peaks Island, PILP provides a means by which the island’s remaining open space can be preserved and protected for the enjoyment of present and future generations. PILP welcomes gifts of conservation easements, money and of course, volunteers. Consider becoming a PILP volunteer steward and thus an advocate for the wonderful open space of Peaks Island.
For more info on Battery Steele, The National Register or The Peaks Island Land Preserve please refer to the following resources:
• Peaks Island Land Preserve: Steve Schuit, 766-2602, http://www.preservepeaks.org
• The National Register, www.cr.nps.gov/nr/about.htm
• The Maine Historic Preservation Commission, http://www.state.me.us/mhpc/