When it opened in this space in 1993, the Children’s Museum looked back to its beginnings in 1977 as a demonstration project of the Junior League, a women’s service organization. Using funds from sales at their thrift shop, League members were convinced of the need for a children’s museum with “a hands-on learning experience,” according to their then president, Harriet Lutes. With its members creating the exhibits, the League opened the museum in the Pond Cove School in Cape Elizabeth. After initial success, the League hired a director. They met their goal of establishing a self-sustaining museum and moved it to a Victorian house owned by and founded by students and faculty at Westbrook College in 1978 (site SA03). Its success in attracting visitors allowed the League to end its direct involvement in the museum’s management.
The building was the former Chamber of Commerce offices, and during World War II, women served as hostesses at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Recreation Center housed in this building. African-American women served as hostesses at the Colored Community Center for Servicemen on Center Street.