History

Brunswick History

Settled in 1628 and known by its Indian name “Pejepscot” for over 100 years afterward, the Town of Brunswick was officially incorporated in 1739 when Maine was still part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Historians often note that Maine Street is one of the Town’s most distinctive features, laid out by the “Pejepscot Proprietors” in 1717 at a width of 12 rods (198 feet) so that travelers between Fort Pejepscot on the Androscoggin River and Maquoit Bay would always be nearly 100 feet from the woods on each side, providing protection from ambush.

As the Town grew, Brunswick became a prosperous seaport, while the power provided by the Androscoggin River Falls helped make it a major producer of lumber, some of which was used for shipbuilding. Brunswick’s industrial past also saw the production of paper, soap, flour, carriages, plows, furniture, shoes, and by the mid 19th century, bricks, cotton and textiles.

In 1794, Bowdoin College was established as the first institution of higher learning in the state of Maine. Brunswick was also home to the Medical School of Maine, opened at Bowdoin in 1820 and continuing there until 1921.

The book Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1851 while she was living in Brunswick and her husband was a professor at Bowdoin. Reportedly, she got a key vision for the book while praying in the First Parish Church, which has been a fixture in the center of town since 1717.

Southeast of Maine Street, a small airport was built in the 1930s that attracted the U.S. Navy during World War II, expanding the field to become the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Today, this site has been transformed into Brunswick Landing, Maine’s premier technology business park.

A number of magnificent Brunswick homes are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Most notably, the Pennellville Historic District at the southern end of town on Middle Bay Cove was created to preserve the stately mansions of shipbuilders and sea captains built in the Federal, Greek Revival and Italianate architectural styles.

Also of historical significance is the Brunswick Town Commons. Donated by the Pejepscot Proprietors in 1719 – and appropriated by the U.S. Government as part of the Brunswick Naval Air Station during World War II – the Commons was returned to the people of Brunswick in 2006 by Resolution of the Maine State Legislature. Now restored to its natural state, these 1,000 acres of beautiful wooded trails provide year-round recreational opportunities for Brunswick citizens and serve as a living laboratory for local elementary school children.