New Town Picture Gallery IX: Hallowell, Maine

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Town Hall in Hallowell, Maine

The town of Hallowell, Maine has been added to the Town Picture Gallery.  Enjoy!

Also, here is some historical background on this quaint town:

Hallowell, Maine, is significant for it represents a 19th century riverport that has retained, in remarkably complete form, its architectural integrity through the 20th century to the present day. Events in her history point up the fact that Hallowell contributed to the economic, social, and political history of the state and nation in areas reflective of American ingenuity and resourcefulness.

She gave the state two governors and many professional men of distinction and far-reaching reputation. For these broad reasons, the picturesque hillside of Hallowell down to and including the Kennebec River, which it faces in the form of a natural amphitheater, is being applied for as a state nomination to the National Register of Historic Districts.

Of the 450 buildings located in the proposed historic district, 85% were built during the 18th and 19th centuries. Half were built before 1865. On Water Street in the commercial section between Temple and Winthrop Streets there are 45 Buildings, of which only 3 are 20th century (gas stations).

Two-thirds of these commercial buildings were built before 1835 and the remaining third before 1900. Neither fire nor flood nor urban renewal have altered significantly this remarkable architectural grouping that developed at the riverport in Hallowell’s heydey.

In addition, all of the churches and public buildings in the district are 19th century. And all but 55 of the dwellinghouses, of which there are 330 in all, are 19th century or earlier. A full spectrum of architecture is represented including dwellinghouses of all periods from Federal on, early commercial buildings, churches, public buildings, an old doctor’s office, an early hotel, an 1940 row house, and an old cotton factory.

The designs of the Greenfield, Mass., architect and author Asher Benjamin are strongly felt in the architecture of the early to mid 1800’s, and rather than his having come here, it may be assumed that local builders referred to his rural builder’s guides, published from 1798 to 1839.

Within the historic district are three of the earliest traffic arteries in the region: the Kennebec River, the old County Road (now State Route #201) and the Coos Trail (no the Winthrop Road). The river, long traveled by Indians, was the route used by Benedict Arnold on his expedition to Quebec. Tradition has it that Arnold and h is men slept on the shores of Hallowell in 1775.

The old County Road was the early  post road from Brunswick, Maine. The Hallowell portion was laid out in 1771 by vote at a meeting presided over by Pease Clark, the original Hallowell settler, who had come 9 years before. Along this road the commercial portion of the community developed in response to shipping activity and local needs and talents.

Several publishing houses were to spring up there in the 19th century, and Hallowell became so prominent in printing and publishing that only Portland exceeded her in the numbers of imprints to leave the presses. A street perpendicular to the old County Road was laid out in 1793 upon which was built the first Academy chartered in Maine, in 1795.

The third early Maine road and one which originated in Hallowell was the Coos Trail, now Winthrop Road. It was the brainchild of genius Charles Vaughan, who arrived here in 1791, and the object was to link Hallowell to the interior regions of New Hampshire and Vermont. This road which can be traced today through many small western Maine towns, became a major artery for agricultural traffic to the port of Hallowell, where it was sent by ship to Boston, Halifax, and New Orleans. Hallowell was the agricultural capitol of the regions for many years.

Later the Winthrop Road was the principal route for the movement of granite from the famous Hallowell quarries to the sculpting sheds on Middle Street which stand today. Hallowell was the granite center of Maine in the late 1800’s.

The railroad which bisects the historic district is significant for it caused the gradual curtailment of river shipping and market activity in Hallowell. Although Hallowell was originally more prominent than Augusta in agriculture, commerce, industry and social culture, she became eclipsed by the community made state capitol as the 19th century slipped away. Today we are left with a remarkable 19th century architectural legacy of the glory that was Hallowell.

Source: The National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form

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