Geographic center of city with lovely homes and a feeling of togetherness.
The longtime bedroom community features tree-lined streets, a high school and time-saving businesses.

Today, Deering Center’s most notable characteristic – besides the handsome, tree-lined residential blocks – is the strip of local businesses and public institutions along Stevens Avenue, a miniature town center.

All within a short walk from the intersection of Stevens Avenue and Woodford Street to Hartley Street are staples of the neighborhood: Deering and Catherine McCauley high schools, the Burbank branch of the Portland Public Library, and a smattering of businesses that often save Deering residents the hassle of traveling downtown.

One of the longest-standing businesses is Roy’s Shoe Shop, now owned and run by Dan Lentz, 49. First opened in 1929, Roy’s has been a staple of Deering Center for generations, Lentz said.

Deering Center
A dog waits for its owner outside Pat’s Meat Market in Deering Center. A smattering of small businesses and public buildings, most on Stevens Avenue, provide a miniature town center for the mostly residential neighborhood. Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

Before him, Lentz’s father ran the business, after taking it over from the namesake, George Roy Sr. The business moved from 5 Brentwood St. in 1980, taking over a floral shop at 500 Stevens Ave., and Ciano’s Pizza now occupies 5 Brentwood.

Lentz’s family owns the building now, and he is slowly making improvements, but other than that, it is much like the neighborhood around him.

“Not much has changed, but it's paid for, and no one can take it.”

"Not much has changed,” Lentz said, smiling. “But its paid for, and no one can take it.”

Lentz said he enjoys the camaraderie among business owners in the area. Although some businesses have changed hands over the years, there is a strong sense of place that binds them together, he said.

Away from Stevens Avenue, most of the neighborhood consists of blocks of single- and two-family homes, with a few three-family houses mixed in.

Deering Center
A woman walks past Jet Video in Deering Center. Stores and other small businesses allow residents to avoid traveling downtown to shop. Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

Most homes are owner-occupied, with only 43 percent of residents renting out units. Rent for a two-bedroom hovers at $1,461, below the citywide average of $1,560.

Deering Center is less racially diverse than the city as a whole. Seven percent of the 4,000 residents are non-white, compared with 14 percent citywide. And the area has the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents of any Portland neighborhood – 4.9 percent, compared with 12 percent citywide.

Historically, the neighborhood has been a bedroom community for the city. Before it was annexed by Portland in 1899, its motto was "Deering, a City of Homes."

Click and drag the slider to compare photos; The Portland Lyric Theater's old location on the corner of Stevens Avenue and Brentwood Street in Deering Center. Sept. 1, 2015, photo by Derek Davis/Staff photographer; 1960 Press Herald photograph courtesy of Portland Portland Library Special Collections & Archives (photographer uncredited)



Staff photos by Whitney Hayward

Milwaukee native Chelsea Malacara, 25, is a full-time graduate student who lives in a duplex apartment and pays $900 a month in rent. She works for the Presumpscot Land Trust and moved to Portland two years ago after living in off-season housing in Old Orchard Beach. She knew she wanted to live in Deering because of its proximity to Baxter Woods and its quiet neighborhood feel. She lives with her husband, and they’re thinking of starting a family soon. She believes Deering is a great neighborhood for new families.

“In the Midwest, $900 a month will get you a three-bedroom house, so it was an adjustment,” Malacara said.

Deering resident Peter Koutsivitis, 67, stands in Evergreen Cemetery. Koutsivitis is a retired Portland Parks and Recreation Department employee. He is originally from New Hampshire, but has lived and worked in the city for 42 years. He moved in with his 90-year-old mother, in a house she purchased in 1960, to help her out.

Patricia Powell, 88, has lived in Deering since 1947, and lives in the home where she was raised.

“The neighborhood has radically changed,” Powell said. “A lot of people on my street rent, and I have nothing against renters, but before, everyone knew everyone. The street feels like a revolving door – they’re here for a year, and then they’re gone,” Powell said.

Andy Schmidt, 35, and Emily Lesher, 35, who have two children, Nico, 5 months old, and Nora, 4, moved from Golden, Colorado, and did online research on Portland’s neighborhoods. They decided on Deering for its neighborhood feel and ease of commute for Lesher, who is a professor at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish. “Now that we’ve lived here two years, if we were to draw a circle on a map around the area we’d want to live in Portland, it would be around our house,” Schmidt said. They remember that the housing market was not nearly as competitive as it is now when they were looking for a house. They easily purchased their home, which had been on the market for six months, and said they had a good Realtor, who understood what they were looking for.


We asked Portlanders to describe their neighborhoods, and these are the words they used.

My neighborhood is a best kept secret in Maine place that's probably best known for great schools. The people who live here are diverse, thoughtful and wonderful neighbors. Our favorite neighborhood business is Jet Video and when we have spare time we like to visit Black Cat Coffee for fun. Our neighborhood's best-kept secret is probably the beauty of Evergreen Cemetery. M.
My neighborhood is a quiet place that's probably best known for schools and families. The people who live here are mostly families. Our favorite neighborhood business is Black Cat Coffee and when we have spare time we like to visit Portland Trails behind Evergreen Cemetery for fun. Our neighborhood's best-kept secret is probably Baxter Woods. Sarah
My neighborhood is a perfect place that's probably best known for being family friendly. The people who live here are kind and generous. Our favorite neighborhood business is Black Cat Coffee and when we have spare time we like to visit the Treehouse Cafe for fun. Our neighborhood's best-kept secret is probably the Honey Exchange. Maryann