A Brief History of Pittsfield, Maine
More about Pittsfield's history can be found at the
Pittsfield Public Library history collection. and at the
Town of Pittsfield website's history page.
Pittsfield's first settler, Lovell
Fairbrother, came from Norridgewock in 1775, stayed only briefly,
finding the wilderness area not to his liking. He transferred his
rights to Moses Martin after only two years.
Moses and Anna Martin and their four children built a log cabin in 1794; in 1818 they
built the first frame house in the area, on the current lower Peltoma Avenue.
In 1800, a saw mill was built on the
Sebasticook River on the site that is now the Edwards Company
(EST), by William Bradford and Mr. Wyman of Vassalboro.
A settlement was established in the
Sibley Pond area of western Pittsfield in the early 1800's; John
Webb built a home on the Snakeroot Road where the first fourteen
town meetings were held. Families of Parks, Powers and Weymouth
soon settled in Pittsfield, then called Plymouth Gore.
Another prominent family in the new
town was Jesse Connors who arrived in 1814. He built the first
store and purchased the lumber mill from Mr. Bradford. Mr.
Connors' son, Jesse, was a central business figure in the area.
The Colonel William Lancey family
bought property at the corner of Easy and Main Streets and became
licensed as innkeepers. Members of the family later built the
well-known Lancey House which welcomed guests from all over the
On June 19, 1819 Plymouth Gore became
Warsaw Plantation; in 1824 it was renamed Pittsfield to recognize
Mr. William Pitts, a large land owner from Belgrade.
Going Hathorn came to Pittsfield in
1832, and seeing the potential of a woolen mill on the
Sebasticook River, bought the lumber mill from Jesse Connors,
installed a new granite dam and opened a one set woolen mill. Mr.
Hathorn made his presence known as a "force to be reckoned
Maine Central Institute (MCI), whom Elder
Weymouth was instrumental in founding, opened its doors in 1866, and shortly after the
Lancey House was built. The name "Lancey House" became synonymous with
gracious living in a home away from home. In 1882, the first village newspaper came off
the press, and the stately Union Hall was built the next
year. A grand-opening ball saw special trains bringing more than 800 guests to the event
of the century.
By the late 1800's, Colonel Morrill had
opened the Pittsfield Driving Park and was the first to feature
races for women! Water works had been installed and there were 30
bicycles in town, proving to be a nuisance on the sidewalks.
The building of the Public Library with
assistance of Andrew Carnegie funds, the opening of the first hospital on outer North
Main Street and the creation of Hathorn Park were the activities at the turn of the
It was a blue year for residents as the
woolen mills closed in 1934. Distraught townspeople saw property
that was valued at as much as $10,000 being sold for $600 as
families moved away from the area.
Stepping up from the '30's depression the 1940's proved to be a fast-paced era. The
Kiwanis was organized, the municipal airport created and the U.S. Navy sent cadets to
MCI and the airport for CAA war training service. Medwed Shoe Company opened the former
Waverly Woolen Mills with 450
employees, making them the largest single employer in the community. Pittsfield Woolen
Yarns opened and construction began on Manson Park. In Peltoma Acres, 48 homes were
constructed in a year's time!
During the 1950's, Edwards Company opened shop at the site of Bradford
and Wyman's saw mill, the Manson Park School and Vickery Schools were built
and the swimming pool opened. President Dwight
Eisenhower visited in 1955!
The new and modern Sebasticook Valley Hospital on Grove Hill highlighted
the 1960's with the end of an era coming to a close with the burning of the
famed Lancey House in 1968.
During the following years, after voting for a Town Manager form of
government years earlier in 1935 Pittsfield reverted to a town council, the
renovation of Main Street took place and
a new shopping center was created along with new industries and new
More than 180 years later, the little
town on the shores of the Sebasticook River is both vastly
changed and invariably the same. Sure, the friendly village of
Pittsfield boasts modern conveniences, a school system to be
envied, a refurbished hospital, municipal airport, community
theatre, nursing and boarding homes for the elderly and
recreational facilities including swimming pool, a beginners' ski
slope, bowling alley, golf course, basketballs courts and
children's playgrounds. Three beautifully manicured parks feature
picnic areas, nature trails, a tennis court and playing fields.
This amicable town boasts of the annual
Central Maine Egg Festival each July. An attraction that draws
nearly 25,000 people a year, the Egg Festival honors the many
Brown Egg producers in Central Maine since its beginning in 1973.
There are churches of many denominations and varied civic, fraternal and social
Industries include C.M. Almy, Cianbro, Edwards Company, Hancock Lumber, Maine Fence
Company, San Antonio Shoe, and Sonoco Products.
But take a slow drive down South Main Street in December and relish in the festive
lights and decorative display of the season on vintage homes; view the imposing Founder's Hall across snowscaped
Boutelle Savage lawn at MCI; or drive Somerset Avenue in the early summer evening and
notice couples out for stroll, watch the sunlight play across the treelined streets and
landscaped lawns. Experience a youth league baseball game at Hathorn Park in summer, an
open air concert at the Gazebo, the annual Street Dance during the Egg Festival or the
homecoming football game in the fall. Stop at any local eatery or corner variety store
and take it in - there's a powerful, hometown feel to Pittsfield the first settlers knew
that still embodies Pittsfield today.
We invite you to visit Pittsfield in any season and realize what we already know . .
. it's distinctive, personal, familiar and comfortable. Pittsfield's history holds it
all, and we hope to capture a part of that in our historic collections and displays at
the Depot House Museum.
Here is a map of Pittsfield from 1926.