Oldest Towns in Maine

14 Oldest Towns in Maine

The state has a rich history, and many sites and places are still visited today by visitors from around the world. Maine is historically rich because of its location. The state is located between New Brunswick and Quebec, making it a multicultural area with a lot of history.

Maine is full of great towns that have been around since the early colonial days. Below you will find the list of the three oldest towns in Maine.

14. Shapleigh

Date Incorporated: March 5, 1785
Country: York
Land Area: 38.75 sq mi
Population: 2,921

Shapleighphoto source: mapio.net

Shapleigh, which was originally known as Hubbardstown, was settled in 1772 and incorporated on March 5, 1785.

Shapleigh’s western half was divided off and became Acton in 1830. A part of Shapleigh was invaded and occupied by Newfield in 1846. In 1854, Shapleigh annexed a piece of land that belonged to Waterboro in the east.

Did You Know?

The town was named after Nicholas Shapleigh, who was a landowner.


13. Machias

Date Incorporated: June 23, 1784
Country: Washington
Land Area: 13.87 sq mi
Population: 2,060

Machiasphoto source: machiasme.org

Prior to being eventually colonized by English colonists in 1763, its protected coastline position served as a sanctuary for many years for Atlantic privateers, notably Rhodes the Pirate and Samuel Bellamy (the Robin Hood of American piracy). Machias was given a settlement in 1770 and named after the river when it was founded in 1784.

Did You Know?

Machias, a reference to the Machias River, basically translates as “terrible small falls.”


12. Gray

Date Incorporated: June 19, 1778
Country: Cumberland
Land Area: 43.27 sq mi
Population: 8,269

Grayphoto source: graymaine.org

It wasn’t until around 1756 that the town started to go by the moniker “New Boston.” Gray, named for one of the owners, Thomas Gray, was the name under which New Boston Plantation was established on June 19, 1778.

Within its boundaries, Gray is home to a variety of historical structures and sites. Built in 1876, Pennell Institute is a school that is still standing today. The institution, which is now a pillar of Gray, was formerly regarded as one of the best free high schools of its sort in all of New England.

Did You Know?

Out of 519 cities in Maine, Gray has the 34th highest population.


11. Lyman

Date Incorporated: March 11, 1778
Country: York
Land Area: 38.99 sq mi
Population: 4,525

photo source: lyman-me.gov

The town of Lyman was established in York County in 1767 and was given the name Coxhall when it was incorporated on March 11, 1778.

Lyman became the new name on February 20, 1803.

The early colony is tragically remembered at a little ancient cemetery along Route 111, where a monument records the passing of a two-year-old infant in the year Maine became a state.

Did You Know?

Stone Turtle in Lyman is a known place for baking.


10. Fryeburg

Date Incorporated: January 11, 1777
Country: Oxford
Land Area: 58.33 sq mi
Population: 3,369

photo source: fryeburgmaine.org

The Massachusetts General Court granted it as a British Royal Grant to Colonel Joseph Frye of Andover. In appreciation of Colonel Frye’s contributions during the French and Indian Wars, the town was granted.

On January 11, 1777, Fryeburg was formed, and its first elected officials were a “Board of Selectmen and officials.” In addition to Colonel Frye, the earliest settlers originated in Concord, New Hampshire, and villages in Northern Massachusetts. The majority of settlers had college educations and were of British ancestry.

Did You Know?

The first town established in Oxford County was Fryeburg.


9. Boothbay

Date Incorporated: November 3, 1764
Country: Lincoln
Land Area: 21.93 sq mi
Population: 3,003

Boothbayphoto source: themainemag.com

On November 3, 1764, it was incorporated. It began to lay claim to land in 1842 to create Townsend, which would later change its name to Southport in 1850.

The Boothbay Playhouse and the railroad make the area around Boothbay a hotspot for summertime tourism.

Old Boothbay at Welton le Marsh, Lincolnshire, England, is where Boothbay gets its name. It is the location of the Newagen village, which was inhabited by fishermen in the early 1630s. In 1666, Henry Curtis bought the land from Chief Robinhood with the intention of settling there, but the Second Indian War caused the colony to be destroyed, and it wasn’t reoccupied for 40 years.

Did You Know?

In 1889, further land was separated from Boothbay and established as Boothbay Harbor.


8. Gorham

Date Incorporated: October 30, 1764
Country: Cumberland
Land Area: 50.62 sq mi
Population: 18,336

Gorhamphoto source: maineanencyclopedia.com

The original name of Gorham was Narragansett Number 7. The troops that took part in King Philip’s War were given the land. In 1743, Captain John Gorham built the town’s first sawmill. On October 30, 1764, the town was established as Gorham.

Did You Know?

The town’s population has increased steadily and significantly since 1950. It rose to become Maine’s fourteenth-largest town by 2010.


7. Topsham

Date Incorporated: January 31, 1764
Country: Sagadahoc
Land Area: 32.20 sq mi
Population: 6,623

photo source: midcoastmaine.com

On January 31, 1764, Topsham in Sagadahoc County became the eighteenth town in Maine. It took Patten’s Point from Bowdoinham in 1788, but in 1830 it gave that town other property.

The past of the town is hinted at by the remains of previous buildings. A “hydraulic ram system” was reportedly present at the site, and it included the water tower below, which has since been reconstructed. It was constructed in the 19th century to assist a local farm. The ruins of the mill dam below are surrounded by a small park.

Did You Know?

Maine rivers served as virtual sewage systems for paper mills and other enterprises for a large portion of the 20th century.


6. Harpswell

Date Incorporated: January 25, 1758
Country: Cumberland
Land Area: 24.18 sq mi
Population: 5,031

photo source: visitmaine.com

The fishing, agricultural, and shipbuilding industries have a long and storied history in Harpswell, which was incorporated in 1758. However, the town’s main draw as a vacation spot remains to be the presence of several famous people.

According to Wheeler’s history of the region, Harpswell participated in the Revolutionary War.

The Merrucoonegan Farm Historic Site is nearby at this location, which is on Maine Route 123 at the Harpswell-Brunswick town boundary.

Did You Know?

The town takes its name from the English village of Harpswell, which is located in the Lincolnshire county of Gainsborough.


5. Georgetown

Date Incorporated: June 13, 1716
Country: Sagadahoc
Land Area: 18.58 sq mi
Population: 1,058

Georgetownphoto source: Wikipedia

On the Gulf of Maine, Georgetown Island is about halfway between the Sheepscot and Kennebec rivers.

Georgetown, a town in Sagadahoc County, was founded on a piece of Arrowsic Island on June 13, 1716. Parker’s Island was seized by Georgetown in 1738 and Small Point in 1741.

Many year-round families still reside in Georgetown today and work in local businesses, the building and repair of boats, the arts, and fishing. Both retirees and summer residents like to visit the island. There are several recreational activities, including Reid State Park, twelve conservation areas, and other well-known birding locations.

Did You Know?

In honor of King George I of England, Georgetown underwent a name change in 1741.


4. Berwick

Date Incorporated: June 9, 1713
Country: York
Land Area: 37.52 sq mi
Population: 7,950

Berwickphoto source: Wikiwand

On June 9, 1713, Berwick, a town in York County on the border with New Hampshire, was founded. It was given the name Berwick-upon-Tweed after an ancient English town in Dorsetshire that bordered the English Channel.

It was formerly a much bigger town, but in 1716 it lost territory to Kittery, and in 1814 and 1831 it gave up land to build the towns of South Berwick and North Berwick.

Did You Know?

The region that would eventually become Berwick was originally a part of Kittery and was known as Kittery Commons or Kittery North Parish when it was colonized in approximately 1631.


3. North Yarmouth

Date Incorporated: September 22, 1680.
Country: Cumberland
Land Area: 21.22 sq mi
Population: 4,072

photo source: northyarmouthhistorical.org

The town of North Yarmouth was founded on June 17, 1683, from what is now referred to as the “old territory of Westcustigo,” an Indian term meaning the “mouth of the river,” in this instance, the Royall (now Royal) River, named for an early landowner called William Royall.

The North Yarmouth plantation was split and plotted in 1727, defining land lots and ownership as well as creating a border with Falmouth, a nearby plantation.

At that time, a sizable boulder known as the “white rock” served as a dividing line between Ancient North Yarmouth and Falmouth, which comprised a sizable portion of Portland in addition to the modern-day town of Falmouth.

Although it is on privately held land, the boulder is still visible from the sea today.

Did You Know?

The house lots were handed to expelled settlers initially, and in 1727, new settlers were allowed to select from the remaining parcels of land after the land partition.


2. Kennebunkport

Date Incorporated: July 5, 1653
Country: York
Land Area: 18.6 sq mi
Population: 3,629

Kennebunkportphoto source: Wikipedia

When it was initially formed in 1653, the region that is now Kennebunkport was known as Cape Porpoise. Early Indian warfare drove the locals away, but they came back in 1719 and established a settlement under the name Arundel along the river. This name was changed to the one it has now in 1820, when Maine became a state.

Around 1630, Kennebunkport saw the establishment of a permanent colony.

Did You Know?

Kennebunkport is known to be the home of George H.W. bush.

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1. Kittery

Date Incorporated: 1647
Country: York
Land Area: 17.78 sq mi
Population: 10,070

photo source: kitteryme.gov

Kittery has the distinction of being the oldest town in the State of Maine, incorporated in 1647 — more than a century and a quarter before the birth of the United States. English settlers first made their home in this area in 1623.

The Piscataqua Plantations were the old name for the region. After Capt. Francis Champernowne, another early settler from the area, the southern section of Kittery was once known as Champernowne’s. Prior to the advent of Europeans, this region was referred to by the Native Americans as Amiciskeag, which approximately translates as “fishing point” in the Algonquin language.

Did You Know?

The name of the town is taken from Kittery Court, which belonged to Alexander Shapleigh’s family when he first settled in Kingswear, England.

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