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Kennebec County Historical Events

Augusta History Timeline

This is a list of the most important events in Augusta history published in The Romance of Augustathe city's sesquicentennial souvenir (1947). 
1604- Kennebec River discovered by Pierre du Guast and Samuel de Champlain.
1607- Raleigh Gilbert sailed up the Kennebec and landed at Koussinoc, Indian name for present-day Augusta. 
1625- First trade with Indians of the Kennebec and the Plymouth Colony started by Edward Winslow
1629- William Bradford and others received a grant of land on the Kennebec River. The Plymouth Colony established a trading post on the site of what was later Fort Western.
1646- Jesuit mission founded by Father Druillettes.
1652- Trade at Kennebec Patent decline and rights were leased to private traders.
1654- Civil government instituted in the Kennebec Patent
1661- Because of the decline in revenue and Indian uprisings, the Plymouth Colony sold the Kennebec Patent to Antipas Boyes, Edward Tyng, Thomas Brattle, and John Wilson. Unsuccessful in their attempt to revive trade at the Cushnoc post, the new Kennebec Proprietors abandoned it, and the area remained dormant for nearly 75 years. 
1749- The heirs of the Kennebec Proprietors established their claim to the grant at Cushnoc
1754- Fort Western erected on the site of the old Cushnoc trading post, thus marking the beginning of permanent settlement in the Augusta area. James Howard, commander of Fort Western, is considered the first settler in Augusta. 
1761- Survey of the Augusta-Hallowell region made by John Winslow. The Kennebec River was explored by a "ranging party" commanded by Capt.. James Howard. 
1762- First grants to lots made to induce settlement around Fort Western; 7 log huts occupied by 30 inhabitants comprised the village. 
1763- First minister, Jacob Bailey, preached at Fort Western
1764- It is estimated that there were 100 inhabitants in the Fort Western settlement.
1769- Capt. James Howard purchased 900 acres, including Fort Western and erected a sawmill, the first industry in the area.
1770- Capt. Howard built "Great House" for his living quarters, the first frame structure in the settlement.
1775- Benedict Arnold and his army of 1100 men remained at Fort Western for nine days during their ill-fated expedition against Quebec.
1778- Conveyance of real estate by Tories prohibited by the town.
1779- At town meeting it was voted to appropriate 200 pounds "to procure preaching."
1780- A severe winter and scarcity of provisions caused great suffering. The General Court requisitions 10000 pounds of beef from Hallowell for the Continental Army. 
1781- Currency difficulties led to lumber being regarded as the standard of values; it was received in payment of taxes. 
1782- Construction on the first meetinghouse started.
1784- First appropriation for the support of the poor made at town meeting
         First public inn, "a house of entertainment," was built by Isaac Clark. 
1785- Daniel Cony was chosen by Hallowell as its representative to the Falmouth convention to consider separation of the District of Maine from Massachusetts
 1786- First public whipping post in town erected at The Fort
1787- The town was divided into eight school districts, four on each side of the Kennebec, and "a committee appointed in each district to provide schooling and see that the money is prudently laid out."
            James Carr selected as the town's delegate to "give assent to and ratify the constitution for the Untied States" at the convention held in Boston. 
1790- Population: 1,194
            Construction of first Courthouse began in Market Square.
1794- The town's first postmaster, James Burton, commissioned
            The Eastern Star, first newspaper printed in the area published by H.S. Robinson
1796- On February 8 a charter for the construction of the first bridge across the Kennebec River at The Fort was issued.
            First Free Mason lodge, Kennebec Lodge, No. 5, chartered
            Old South Congregational Church built.
1797- Rivalry between The Fort and The Hook reached a climax when two communities became separate towns on February 18, the latter retained the name of Hallowell and the former selected the name of Harrington. On June 9 Harrington changed its name to Augusta.
1799- Kennebec County was established.
1800- Population 1216.
            Stone and Sate Streets laid out.
1802- New courthouse completed and occupied
            Two hotels, the Mansion House and the Cushnoc House built
1803- A brick grammar school was erected on the corner of Bridge and State Streets.
1805- The selectman authorized to procure a town poorhouse.
1806- First stage to Augusta, started by Col. T.S. Estabrook, gave biweekly service between the town and Brunswick.
            First brick stores in town erected on Water Street by Robinson and Crosby.
1807- South Parish Congregational meetinghouse built. 
1808- A disturbance called the "Malta War" started over disputed land titles. The jail was burned and an attempt was made to burn the courthouse. The August Light Infantry was ordered out, and the Augusta Patrol was organized. The affair resulted in a Betterment Act being passed to appease squatters.
       A new stone jail was erected on the site of the old one.
        First granite quarried in Augusta .
1809- Climax of the "Malta War" came with the trail and acquittal of seven persons accused of the murder of Paul Chadwick, a surveyor.
1810- Population, 1805; dwelling, 168; shops 39; offices,6; sawmills, 11; gristmills,3; pleasure carriages, 37; tons of shipping, 282 1/2.
1812- President Madison hanged in effigy by Augusta Federalists.
            The Kennebec Bank chartered. 
1813- The privateer, Dart, built for use against British Business was so seriously crippled by the embargoes that all stores but one were forced out of business.
1815- Cony Female Academy founded.
1816- Kennebec Bridge collapsed  The town was the rallying point for emigrants leaving for Ohio
1817- A reading room and social library established by the young men of the town.
1818- Kennebec Bridge rebuilt.
1819- The town vote was 293 to 49 in favor of separation of Maine from Massachusetts. 
1820-Population 2457
           The social library of 1817 incorporated as the Augusta Union Society. This was the first act passed by the new State of Maine Legislature. 
            Bridge and Pleasant Streets laid out. 
1821- First local Masonic society, Bethlehem Lodge, No. 35, constituted.
1822- First organ in town placed in use in the South Parish meetinghouse. 
1825- The Kennebec Journal was established by Luther Severance and Russell Easton
1826- East Parish incorporated.
1827- On February 24 the act making Augusta the capitol of Maine signed. 
1828- The U.S. Arsenal on east bank of Kennebec erected.
1829- July 4 the cornerstone of Maine's capitol laid
            Stone county court house built.
            Myrtle Street laid out.
1830- Population 3980
1831- Augusta House built
1832- On January 4 the Legislature convened for the first time in the new statehouse.
1833- Freeman's Bank and Citizen's Bank chartered
            Captain James Hall built a home that later became the Blaine House.
1834- Kennebec Dam Company incorporated
            First Freewill Baptist Church formed
1835- Universalist church built on Court Street
            Augusta Village Corporation organized for the purpose of maintaining an efficient fire department. 
            Augusta High School established.
            Mount Pleasant and Forest Grove cemeteries purchased by the town.
1836- Population, 6069
            Granite Bank incorporated
            Roman Catholics acquired a place of worship
            First regular steamboat service between Kennebec ports and Boston started.
1837- Kennebec Dam, first on the river, completed
1838- Contracts made for 10 sawmills, and a canal and basin were constructed for their accommodation.
1839- The town was the center of operations during the "Aroostook War," and Major General Winfeild Scott and his suite were located here at the time
            A flood caused much damage to Kennebec Dam; mills were carried away, and land was destroyed. 
1840- Population, 5314
            Dam across the Kennebec rebuilt by Alfred Redington    
            First local Episcopal church formed
            Work completed on the Maine Insane Hospital after a number of years of planning and construction
1842- St. Mark's Episcopal Church and two new schoolhouses erected
1843- The Maine Farmer, inaugurated by Ezekiel Holmes in Winthrop, was purchased by Russell Eaton and moved
to Augusta.

1845- St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church erected on State Street
1843- Six sawmills were erected by the Kennebec Locks and Canals Co., formerly the Kennebec Dam Co., also a large flour mill "with six runs of stones." A cotton mill, the forerunner of the Edwards Manufacturing Co., built. 
1847- Kennebec Locks and Canals Co, becomes Augusta Water Power Co.
1848- Augusta Savings Bank organized
            On May 22 the steamer Halifax blew up in the Kennebec dam lock with loss of 7 lives. 
1849- Augusta receives city charter
1850- Population 8225
1851- Kennebec and Portland Railroad Co. completed its line to Augusta; the first train arrived December 15
1853- On September 2 a $75000 fire destroyed 6 sawmills, a flour mill, a kyanzing plant, and a dwelling house. Rebuilding started immediately,
        Construction of the Somerset and Kennebec Railroad began on the east side of the river at Augusta. The city furnished $75,000 to complete the road
        The Augusta Gas Light Co. incorporated.
1854- Kennebec Journal was sold to James G. Blaine and Joseph Baker
1855- February 22 the Republican party held its first State convention
            Flood swept away 100 feet of the Kennebec dam
1857-Through the resignation of Hannibal Hamlin to become U.S. Senator, Sate President of the Senate, Joseph H. Williams, was the first Augustan to become Governor. 
            In the same year Lot M. Morrill was the first local man elected Senate president. 
            First Railroad bridge over the Kennebec built. 
1858- Kennebec County Jail erected.
1859- Gas street lamp introduced
1860- Population, 7609
            Additions made to the statehouse
1861- This city was the mobilization point of the Kennebec Valley troops en route to war areas. 
            Augusta Lumber Company organized.
1864- The State Bank of Augusta surrendered its charter and organized the First National Bank of Augusta; the Freeman's Bank became the Freeman's National Bank; the Granite Bank became the Granite National Bank. 
            South Parish Church struck by lightning and destroyed
1865- The South Parish Congregational Society erected a granite church.
            September 17, fire swept Water Street causing a half-million dollars damage.
1866- Prominent business building completed were the Granite National Bank Building, Meonain Block, North Block, and the Granite Block.
            Home for Civil War veterans established at Togus.
1867- Kennebec Dam property sold to A.&W. Sprague Company. 
           Kennebec Bridge freed from tolls.
1868- St. Catherine Hall, a church school for girls, founded. 
1869- James G. Blaine elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. 
1870- Population 7803
            Augusta Water Company established
            Kennebec Savings Bank organized
1873- P.O. Vickery established publishing business.
1881- Cony Free High School completed
           YMCA organized.
1882- Lithgow Library and Reading Room opened on Water Street..
1883- Edwards Manufacturing Company purchased the properties of A.&W. Sprague Co.
1884- James G. Blaine defeated for the U.S. Presidency.
1884 - Publishers began using wood pulp acid paper in the United States

1885- A company established to supply the city with water from the Kennebec.
1887- Augusta Board of Trade organized.
1888- Comfort published by the Gannett and Morse concern. Becomes the largest circulating magazine in the World.
        St. Augustine's Church erected on Washington Street.
1890- Population 10527
            A three story wing was added to the rear of the Statehouse.
            New Augusta Post Office opened. 
            Augusta, Hallowell and Gardiner electric car service inaugurated.
            One May 1a new iron bridge across the Kennebec completed. 
1891- Augusta General Hospital chartered.
             Kennebec Historical Society established as the Kennebec Natural History and Antiquarian Society. 
1894- Cornerstone of Masonic Temple and Lithgow Library laid.
1895- Lithgow Library erected and dedicated. 
1896- On July 4 the City Hall dedicated. 
1897- Centennial celebration of the incorporation of Augusta held. 
1900- Population 11683
            St. Catherine's Hall completed its last school year and was acquired by the Augusta General Hospital. 
1901- Trolley service extended to Togus. 
1902- Local trolley line became the Augusta, Winthrop and Gardiner Street Railway.
1904- Most disastrous fire since 1865 started in Meonian Hall and swept the east side of Water Street.
1906- The City of Augusta  added to the Eastern Steamship Company's Kennebec line.
        Augusta Yacht Club built.
1907- An attempt to move the State capital to Portland was unsuccessful.
1910 - Population 13221
           Statehouse completely remodeled.
            Wing added to the post office.
1911- An act declaring Augusta to be the permanent seat of government adopted by the Legislature. 
1914- YMCA building erected.
           A double-track railroad bridge constructed across the Kennebec.
1916- Present St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church erected.
1918- Edgar Jones Productions, Inc., opened a motion picture studio.
1920- Population 14114
            The Blaine Mansion became the official residence of Maine governors.
            Blaine Memorial, honoring James G. Blaine, dedicated.
            Hartford Fire Station, a gift of the George Hartford family, completed. 
1921- Assisted by his father, William H. Gannett, Guy P. Gannett restored Fort Western and presented it to the city
as a memorial to his mother, Sadie Hill Gannett.

1923- May flood waters caused extensive damage.
1924- The city's first clinic for crippled children held at Augusta General Hospital.
1925- The Fuller Memorial Fund and homestead bequeathed to the city for development as a home for self-sustaining girls. 
1926- New 10,000 gallon reservoir built. 
            Kennebec Legion Park dedicated.
1927- St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church constructed. 
1928- Macomber Playground presented to the city by Mr. and Mrs. George E. Macomber. 
            R. P. Hazzard Shoe Co. located in the city. 
1929- The World War I Memorial, designed by Frances Loring, presented to the city by Mr. and Mrs. George E. Macomber. 
1930- Population 17198
           Ganneston Park declared a State game preserve and bird sanctuary. 
            City voted $50000 for completion of Cony High School; it was dedicated in November. 
1932- Motorbuses replaced electric cars.
            Radio Station WRDO, first in Kennebec Valley, inaugurated. 
1934- Typhoid fever epidemic threatened the city. 
1936- In March the most disastrous flood in its history swept the city. 
1937- Reuel Williams Athletic Field at Cony High School dedicated.
            The Augusta Players organized. 
1938- In December the Kennebec Pulp and Paper Co's. sulphite plant and storehouse suffered a $500,000 fire damage.
1939- Construction on a $400,000 modern sulphite plant by Kennebec Pulp and Paper company started. 
            The first completed U.S. Airways Communication Station in Maine was placed in service at the Augusta airport. 
1940- Population, 19339
            Annex to post office started.
1941- National Guard to Camp Blanding for World War II service. 
1942- Military Police Battalion Stationed at Camp Keyes.
1943- Augusta Planning Board organized.
1944- Togus Domiciliary Veterans transferred.
1945- Augusta celebrates end of World War II
1946- House City's worst problem.
1947- New Bridge Bill passed
        Augusta Parking District formed
        City celebrates sesquicentennial.

The following are some other important dates in Augusta recent history complied by the KHS staff. 

1949- Memorial Bridge and Rotaries completed.
1950- Population, 20900
        Reuel Williams house destroyed. 
1955- Maine Turnpike extended to Augusta, off ramp built on Western Avenue. 
            Construction on new State Office building begins. 
1956- Augusta Hardware Company moves from Water Street to a new store on residential Western Avenue. 
1958- Zoning defeated. 
1960- Population, 21680
1961- Augusta Plaza, first shopping mall in city completed on site of the Haynes Estate, inaugurating major commercial development on Western Avenue. 
           First computers installed at City Hall. 
1964- New Federal building built on Western Avenue. 
1965- University of Maine at Augusta established. 
           Construction of new Cony High School wing completed. 
            Construction on new Augusta General Hospital begins.
1966- Construction begins on Capitol Shopping center, on site of the Gannett estate.
1968- New district court house built on rotary. 
           Construction on new State Cultural Center begins. Fifty residences demolished in the process.
1969- Third shopping center, Turnpike Mall, opens. 
            First building on UMA campus complete.
1970- Population, 21950
1971- Major YMCA addition completed. 
1972 - Hudson Pulp & Paper changed to Statler Tissue
1973 - Augusta Civic Center built in north end. Commercial development in the immediate area ensues. 
            Augusta House bankrupt.
1974 - Augusta House demolished. 
            Taylor Shoe closes. 
            State Parking garage built. 
1975 - Construction on Vocational-Technical school begins. 
1978 - Downstreet '82, a downtown revitalization effort, begins. 
1981 - Manufacturing ends at Edwards Mill.    
            Lipman Poultry closes.
            Facing rising heating costs, Winthrop Street Universalist Church   demolished. 
1982?- Digital Equipments opens in new Augusta Business Park. 
             Downstreet '82 ends with little success.
             Capitol Theater demolished. 
1983- Zoning passes 
            Water Street fire kills four people
1986- Construction begins on new City Center.
            Key Plaza, tallest building in Augusta, built on Water Street
            Historic restoration of Fort Western began. 
            Mill Street fire kills four, including two children. 
            $ 10 Million renovation of Edwards Mill for offices, shops ect. proposed. Proposal later dies due to a lack of funds. 
1989- Edwards Manufacturing Co. plant destroyed in a spectacular fire. 
1991- Major new regional shopping center proposed for Civic Center Drive.
1995 - Statler Tissue Closes
1997- City celebrates its bicentennial
           Tree Free Fiber, successor of Statler Tissue, closes. 
1998- Capitol Riverfront Improvement District established. 
            Restoration State House and reconstruction of State Office building begins.  
1999- After 162 years the Edwards Dam is removed to help restore fisheries. 
2000- Tree Free plant reopens under American Tissue.
            Envisonet opens Augusta office. 
2006 - New Cony High School Opens; New YMCA Opens
2007 - Kennebec Historical Society moves into the Henry Weld Fuller, Jr House

2015 Kennebec Historical Society