The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#115) - The Oak Hotel of Presque Isle, Maine

Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.

I had heard stories about my grandfather, James William Halvangis (1920-1973), being stationed at some point in Presque Isle, Maine during WWII. It must have been a convenient location to get to and from Greenland, where he spent a bulk of his time.

I was interested, then, when I came across this old postcard in a stack of his, and my grandmother, Claire Pawlowski Halvangis’s (1916-1980) old photographs.


It shows “The Oak Hotel And Hotel Apartments” in Presque Isle, Maine. There are some 1940s era cars parked out front.

I am investigating now what my family knows about James’ time in Maine. It does seem that for at least a short period my grandmother was able to join him there. They were married in October of 1944 and I am pretty sure he was stationed overseas after that. Their first child was born in 1945.

It seems likely that my grandparents lived here. According to the Presque Isle Historical Society:

“The Oak Hotel was a rooming house located on the corner of Academy and Main Street. It was built in 1941 to help relieve a housing shortage caused by the military moving in. The hotel consisted of 46 units, mostly for single people.”

Here is slightly later photo of it posted by the Maine Memory Network.


Here is another good article described some of the history of the hotel, which was built in 1941.

And here is another excellent article about the founder of this hotel in, Mary H. Oak.

I love learning about the places where my ancestors lived. And the restaurants they ate at, where they got their hair cut, where and when they prayed, where they had fun or an extra drink or two. These are the details that really bring your family history to life. I encourage you to think and ask about these details as you discover your own family story.

I would love to hear the interesting details you’ve discovered in your own family!

Featured Tag: 1940s