An Early History of the Kennebunks
The early history of Kennebunk is to be found within the town
of Wells, incorporated in 1653, which encompassed the present
town of Kennebunk. Separation did not occur until 1820, the same
year Maine separated from Massachusetts. The area now known as
the town of Kennebunk lies mainly between the Mousam and Kennebunk
rivers. The district extends from the middle of the commercial
center easterly along Summer St. to Kennebunk Landing. Up to 1700,
little progress was made in the settlement of Kennebunk. Between
1700 and 1750, however, the lands and privileges between the two
rivers were in great demand. On March 22, 1736, one hundred acres
of land were surveyed for Nathaniel and Richard Kimball. This
survey inaugurated the permanent settlement of the village area.
Up to that time, no dwelling had been erected within its limits.
There had been a few temporary structures, but by 1736 they no
From the mid eighteenth century on, the area between the Mousam
and Kennebunk rivers grew into a large town with a history significant
to Maine and the nation. Local businesses prospered in the village
and along the Kennebunk River. The most successful of these commercial
ventures were, of course, those related to shipbuilding.
The significance of this historic district lies in its architecture,
for nothing remains of the great shipyards. The homes of the shipbuilders,
ship owners, and sea captains survive, however, leaving a largely
unchanged picture of life in a sea-oriented village of earlier
times. Within the small area is a great spectrum of architecture
ranging from mid eighteenth-century Colonial to late nineteenth-century
Queen Anne. All but one of these great houses were built of wood,
the most readily available building material. The one brick house
is the famous "Wedding Cake House." Almost all designed
and built by local men, these homes are a great tribute to the
talent of the Maine craftsmen and house joiners.