The "Hall of Flags" in Maine's State House had its origin in the profound patriotic sentiments which dominated popular feeling in the years immediately following the Civil War. With the return home of the Maine regiments and artillery batteries in 1865, the colors of each unit were initially deposited with the Adjutant General. The Maine Legislature provided in 1866, by resolution, for flags from "the late rebellion" to be preserved in the State House. Later the same year the flags were placed on display in the central hall of the original State House.
Maine's first capitol building, erected between 1829-1832 and designed by Charles Bulfinch, included an "open Hall" beneath the dome in the center of the building. The dome itself was supported in part by two rows of columns. It was around these columns that the flags were put on display before they found a more permanent home in a glazed "Cabinet of Rebellion Relics" located against the north wall. The sum of $800 was appropriated in 1872 "to be expended under the direction of the Governor and Council in providing a suitable case for the preservation of the color and trophies in the rotunda of the Capitol." The trophies were seven captured confederate battle flags.
The flags remained in this cabinet until the State House underwent extensive remodeling and reconstruction in 1909-1910. Architect G. Henri Desmond designed a room of great dignity with large Doric columns to replace the smaller Bulfinch hall. New bronze cases were built to display the flags. The captured flags were returned to the southern states in 1927 as a gesture of reconciliation. Subsequently, flags of Maine units which fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War were added to the display. A bust of former Governor Percival Proctor Baxter, sculpted by Walter Hancock, was placed in the Hall of Flags in 1957.
The Hall of Flags thus continues a tradition of honoring Maine's military men and women that began immediately after the Civil War and has continued into this century. In the 1970's the flags, damaged in battle and faded by time, were stabilized to slow further deterioration. Many were moved into storage to reduce crowding in the bronze cases.
A research and fundraising effort "Save Maine's Colors" is currently underway. This will result in professional conservation for the flags and an updated display. For additional historical information you may contact the Maine State Museum at 207-287-2301.