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424 Main Street
A.A. Morrison to Casa Novello
A.D. Woodbury Store
Aerial View Saccarappa & Dana Warp Mills
Ammoncongin Literary Club
Apasunta Club
Applied Education
Barrett Hospital
Base Ball Champs 1951, 1993
Basket Ball Team 1951
Beaver Pond
Bernier Family
B.G. Pride Co.
Black Bridge
Brackett Street
Bridge Street Memories
Brown Street School
Brackett St. Post Office
Cairns Family
Caleb Bradley
Catholic Action Crusaders Club
City of Churches
City Offices / Leaders
Colonel Thomas Westbrook
Conant/Warren House
Corn Shops
Cornelia Warren Pool - The Tank
Cornelia Warren
Cumberland Hall/Warren Block
Cumberland Gymnasium
Cumberland Street
Cutter & Finishing Crew 1885
Dairy Queen
Dana, Woodbury K.
Dana Warp Mills
Decemvir Club
Edward Bacon, Minister
Edwards Dry Goods Store
Electricity arrives in Westbrook
Electic cars come to Westbrook
Fire Department
First Meeting Hall
Forest Street School
Francis A. Cloudman
Glass Plate Slides
Gurney's Market
Hauntings in Westbrook
Haskell Silk Mill
Highland Lake Grange No. 87
History of a Home: Winslow-Boody, Arludo, DiBiase, Stockwell
Hormidas "Husky" Aube
Keating's Market
Kinmond Family
Knight's Hardware
Knowlton Machine Co.
Kourapis Fruit Co.
LaFond & Co.
Lamb's Hill Ski Slope Memories
Let it Snow!
Looking Down Mechanic Street
Main Street 1925, Revisited
Main Street 19th Century
Marguerite Lunch
McLellan Blacksmith Shop
Mills of Saccarappa
Native Heritage

Neighborhoods of Westbrook
‘Old Presumpscots’ Baseball Team
O.M.H.A. Hockey or Music
Paper City Lunch
Platinum Knights Club
Police Department
Portland Woodenware Co.
Post Card
Post Office - Bracket Street
Presumpscot River
Pride's Corner Union Bible Society
Riverbank Park
River Bath / Old
"Other" White House
Second Congregational Church (Westbrook Cong.)
Swimming Pool
Rudy Vallee
Saccarappa Cemetery
Saunders Brothers
Sear Kit House
School Safety Patrol
Scotch Hill
S.D. Warren Machins shop Crew 1888
S.D. Warren Stack
Soda Fountain
Sewing Circle
Sloyd School
Sokokis on the Presumpscot
Solar Eclipse 1932
Springer Jewelers
State Class L Basketball Champions 1951
Stephen W. Manchester Post #62
Stephen W. Manchester
Strikers, S.D. Warren
St. Hyacinth School
Stroudwater St. - House @ 333 Stroudwater
Summer Time
This Old House
Valentine, 1st Mayor of Westbrook
Walker House
Walker Memorial Library
Walking Man Sign - Historic Landmark
Welch History in Westbrook
Warren Congregational Church
Westbrook 200
Westbrook Baseball
Westbrook Centennial 1914
Westbrook City Halls
Westbrook Concert Band
Westbrook Electric Co.
Westbrook Garage & Machine Co
Westbrook High School Memories
Westbrook History .
Westbrook Home in Texas
Westbrook Inn
Westbrook Music History
Westbrook Opera House and Update
Westbrook Trust Co.
Winter Fun
Woodbury-Phelps House







During the month of October, the Society usually has a few visitors who come in to search their homes’ history.  When questioned, some will say it’s because of some  of the ‘strange things’ that have occurred in the house.     Over the years, this volunteer has saved a collection of these stories about local GHOSTS & HAUNTINGS. (Names, and specific addresses have been omitted to protect the owners. The stories date back twenty plus years, so owners – and experiences - may have changed. ED)

In the early 2000s, a young couple bought a house on Forest Street.  While doing some renovations, the couple found a small child’s chair sitting beside a very small ‘peel-hole’ window in the attic.  They gave the chair to a relative and replaced the old window with a new one,  to spruce up the loft.  Following those changes, the wife complained of hearing someone upstairs, even when the husband was not home. Their search was to find out something about the families that had lived there before…was there a child, was a crime committed in the house…did anyone die there?  

One of Westbrook’s oldest homes on E. Bridge Street has ‘something’ in the house that would wake the owner and her cats up at night. There is also an old Indian cellar behind the fireplace that the cat won’t go near. The owner has been has told that a former realtor would not go near the fireplace  “because it made her feel funny.”  The homeowner had a Paranormal study done and was told that “there were spirits there but they are not malevolent and will cause no harm.”.

The owner of a home on Bridge Street, who described herself as a “Christian and a non-believer in ghosts”, lived in her 1856 haunted house for 15 years. She related the following story: She had not lived there long when one day she sensed someone watching her and saw a tall, older man in period clothing, standing in the hallway. He did not speak, nor did she. She felt no fear and knew that he was not real.   
After that, there were appearances seen by her sister and by a lady who came to her yard sale. This  shopper informed the owner that she had a ghost in her doorway, and described    him just as the homeowner did. The woman also said that he said his name was Christopher. However, the homeowner and her husband had named him ‘George’ and continued to call him that. ‘George’  liked to play tricks, like throwing items, putting the cat in the closet, having parties late at night with singing and dancing, and calling out to the owner’s husband. The husband had not seen ‘George’, but he had seen objects being moved around the room and heard him calling.

The owners of one of the ‘mill houses‘ on Cumberland Street stated that both of them often heard a voice calling ‘goodnight, George’. They later discovered that a George Sewall lived in the house at one time.  When they purchased the house there had been a small room with a shingled-over window, over their front door. During renovations, they removed the shingles and opened the window. “George” did not like this!! He started walking around the house hollering ‘why did you do that?’

Interesting? Unbelievable?  True?  It’s up to you to take your pick, but these are some of the interesting stories of Westbrook hauntings, as told by those who experienced them!


Some old Westbrook houses....

...not the subjects of this report!




casa novello1
Sketch of 694 Main Street, from 1909 Trade Journal



Since Urban Renewal changed the look of downtown Westbrook in the 1970s by demolishing many buildings, it’s always nice to look at the history of some of our long-standing structures.  694 Main Street is one such building, dating back to the turn of the 20th Century.
The 1909 Illustrated Souvenir  booklet of Westbrook, Windham, Gorham, a Board of Trade magazine, described  A. A. Morrison & Co.,   at 694 Main Street, Westbrook, as a “modern up-to-date grocery house which is attractive and completely stocked”.  It carried a ‘select line of groceries, provisions and meat at  moderate prices and employs six assistants.’  The store comprised  2,000  square feet of floor space which included the first floor and basement.  Mr. Angus A. Morrison was reported as having been born and educated in Nova Scotia but  had become one of “our city’s most progressive and up-to-date citizens, interested in the welfare of the city’s people and much esteemed as a Masonic Fraternity member”.  The 1900 Westbrook City Directory lists the store as originally being at 173 Main Street before moving to 694 Main, across from Dunn Street, by 1909.
Mr. Morrison’s food legacy lives on. The following is a list of the building’s businesses over the ensuing years:
              1900: A. A. Morrison & Co. (Angus) Groceries & Meats (173 Main St.)
              1909 A. A. Morrison  Groceries & Provisions,  694 Main
              1915- 1926 M. D. Capeless (Michael)   Groceries
              1926-1950  Pride Bros. Grocers (Ralph & Willis)-
              1953- 1961  Bi-Wise Grocers (with an apartment upstairs)
              1963-1965 Whitlock’s Used Furniture & Antiques
              1967-1978  Vacant
              1979  ME Chapter National Sclerosis Society
                  Raceway Car Racing & Westbrook House of Pizza were also in this location before it became in
             1999, Casa Novello Italian Restaurant
So, although it is no longer a market, with the advent of Casa Novello, a popular Italian Restaurant, it is still food related.



casa novello 2
Capeless Market, c. 1920s

casa novello 3
Casa Novello Resturant, 2022
References: 1909 Illustrated Souviner booklet, City Directories, Photograph Collectopn



Knights hardware
Pete's Diner, Knight's Hardware, Kit's Smoke Shop, Edward's Block - Main Street



According to the Westbrook City Directories, the name KNIGHT has been connected to Westbrook's plumbing business since the turn of the 20th Century.

In 1895 Walter V. Knight had a bicycling repair shop at 68 Main Street. The shop was listed as carrying a large, complete stock of hardware and a full line of oil and paints. Walter was born in Windham but had lived in Westbrook for twenty years. By 1910 he was listed as a dealer in hardware at 883 Main St.and Leland Knight was listed as being employed there.

In May of 1904, J.W. and Arthur Knight opened Knight Bros. Co. at 901 Main Street.,next door to Walter's shop. The 1909 Souvenir Illustrated magazine described the business as a "modern and spacious store..and is one of the most up-to-date and progressive stores to be found in any town or city....with the most desirable and improved features of plumbing." Brothers J.W. and Arthur were born and educated in Westbrook.

In later years, Leland and Robert Knight operated what was by then called, Knight’s Hardware, at the 883 Main St. location. As seen in the photograph above, it was west of Vallee Square, in the location of today’s Saccarappa Park. (You can make out the "Knight & Son", painted on the side of the building.)    The store was a success for over sixty years.  This writer remembers going in with her father and wandering through the narrow, dark aisles, piled high with boxes and barrels holding all kinds and sizes of bolts, screws, latches, nails, etc.

The Knights sold the store in the 1960s. It was sold again in 1970 to the Sandersons who changed its name to Sportsman Hardware.  By the mid 1970s the urban renewal craze had hit Westbrook and all the old homes/stores/buildings of downtown began to disappear.   WUR seized the building in 1976 and it was on the slate for demolishment.  The first floor was in very poor condition but the top two floors, with their massive timbering, where salvaged and dismantled by Earle Ahlquist of Scarborough.  He moved the floors to Beechridge Rd in Scarboro and reconstructed them as a home and garage. (The gargle was made by removing the back twenty-five feet of the building, and moving it to the side.) The recent photographs below, show that the building lives on!


knights 4
Newspaper photo of Knight's Hardware at time of demolition, 1976




Knight's Hardware as a home - in 2022
References: Scrapbooks and Newspaper Collection, Old Photographs by M. Sanphy, 1909 Illustrated Souviner booklet, Cit Directories, Current photograph by T. Clarke




This aerial photograph of Dana Warp Mills, on Bridge Street, reminds us how much this area, once called Saccarappa, has changed over the years. Even the bridge has been repositioned and the dam has been removed. Can you identify the other changes? Are there other sites that you can identify? See the list below.

dana aerial2
Traveling along Bridge Street:

1. Dana Warp Mills (number is on the site of the original building across from Winslow St)
2. Bean House – demolished and now the site of a Medical building and parking garage
3. Visiting nurses building is on the corner of Brown Street
4. Bridge Street School which is now Golder Commons apartments
5. Haskell Mills, now housing 
6. Island Woolen Mill, purchased by Dana, then demolished

      Back to Main Street:

7. Old Universalist Church which was demolished and a ‘replica’ built to house rental and retail spaces
8. Knowlton Machine Shop
9. Machine shop
10. The Armory apartments
11. Oakland Pontiac, now area of bridge and Saccarappa Park
12. Originally the site of a grist mill, then a hammock company; now gone
13. Salvation Army building on Bridge St, demolished, now parking lot


CL Warren
Cornelia Lyman Warren, at 14
Painted by Alexandre Cabanel*



Cornelia Lyman Warren, only daughter of  Samuel D. & Susan Warren,  was born March 21, 1857 in Waltham, MA. She and her four brothers were brought up in Boston and Cornelia attended private schools in Boston and took exams (pre-approved for females) at Harvard.

Choosing not to pursue an advanced education, she devoted her life to travel and service.  First and foremost she was  humanitarian  and deeply interested in the social services.She was certainly ahead of her times in promoting women’s rights; she was the first woman in MA to have a driver’s license.  Since her father was the owner of S.D. Warren paper mill in Westbrook, this city became a benefactor of her progressive thoughts.

Her first activities in Westbrook  were in the early 1900s when she financed classes for girls in Cumberland Hall [see: ‘The Cumberland Gymnasium’ in Photo Archives].  She equipped the gym, built tennis courts, and a baseball stand. In 1905 she funded a ‘swimming pool’ to be built in the river, since this was the only swimming area available to the children at the turn of the century  [ see ‘The Old Swimming Pool’ & ‘The Tank’ in Photo Archives].   She was also a great supporter of the mill library which eventually became the Warren Memorial library. [See ‘S.D. Warren Mill Strikers 1916’ and ‘Paper City Lunch’ in Photo Archives.]

Cornelia died at her home in MA on June 4, 1921, after a long illness.  Although she never lived in Westbrook, her legacy is alive and well here, a century after her death.  In her will she left a wonderful legacy of giving and caring. To the people of Westbrook she left $100,000 in cash and $24,913 in property. The stipulation was that the money was to be used for the education and social welfare of the people, and the land used for recreational purposes.  The Cornelia Warren Community Association was incorporated in 1925 to administer these funds and it is still active today.  These funds, along with financial aid from the S.D. Warren Co., the City of Westbrook, and the United Way, have given the City Warren Athletic Field, provided financing for the up-keep of the tennis courts, pool, and softball field, to name a few.  It has also assisted local organizations in many ways.

Now, a century later, we applaud the sentiments of Judge Frank P. Pride when he said, at word of her death:


“Miss Cornelia Warren has been most genuinely appreciated by the people of Westbrook
as a wonderful woman who quietly did an immense amount of good. Through her generosity
we have enjoyed privileges common only to large cities. Though not a citizen of Westbrook,
she is mourned as one of our nearest and dearest public benefactors.”


The Warren Family: Samuel, Susan, Edward 'Ned', Henry, Frederick 'Fiske', and Cornelia
* Original painting of Cornelia is hung in Wellesley College's Museum & Cultural Center;
a copy may be seen at Westbrook Historical Society

References: S.D. Warren Collection, A Presence in the Community, The Warren Legacy


An Update


operahouse pre



Speir's building with Opera House on top floor

(See Westbrook’s Opera House in ‘Photo Archives’ page to get a history of this building.)


When the original photo and story on the Westbrook’s Opera House was published on the ‘Photo of the Month’ page, only an old tattered newspaper picture of the building was available. Since then a less damaged newspaper has been donated to the Society. I felt it might be advantageous to do an update of the photographs of this building which once stood on the corner of Main and Speirs Streets. 

The article accompanying the photos reports that the fire  probably  “originated in apparatus used by Mr. George W. Collins for his moving pictures, which were exhibited Saturday night before an audience of 200 people. The probable cause was a short circuit near the electric plugs connected with the machine…”

See the original posting, now on the ‘Photos Archives’ page, for more details…..


operahouse post

Photograph taken the day after the fire - notice the 'Collins Moving Picture' ad on the building on right
| References: Chronicle-Gazette Newspaper, Nov 25, 1904
businesses1 (2)


This great old photograph shows a parade at Main and Carpenter Streets, in Vallee Square. In the background is the Scates Building. It was built in 1903 and demolished in the 1970s during Urban Renewal;  the  City Hall offices were on the second floor.   But what is more interesting is the number of businesses that can be see on the south side of Main: Westbrook Star Laundry, Central Maine Power Co., LaChance Drugs, Porell’s Appliances, Watkins Cleaners, and LeTarte’s Tailor Shop.

The Historical Society is always interested in gathering any photos, items, or ephemera relating to Westbrook businesses.  You can scroll through the Photo Archives to read about Woodbury Store, B.C. Pride Co., Paper City Lunch, Saunders Bros. Dowel Mill, and S.D. Warren Co., to name a few.  The Society also has notebooks full  of articles and photos regarding old businesses and industries. More information can be gleaned from some of our 100-plus, indexed, scrapbooks.

If you or your family grew up in Westbrook and have old photos of long-gone shops, stores or workplaces, please consider sending copies … along with any personal reminiscences… to the Westbrook Historical Society.   Better yet, bring them into the Society and take a look around!

A treasured photo of the inside of a Westbrook business

cumberland st


This lovely photo from the Society’s collection shows Cumberland Street, the old bridge over the Presumpscot, and part of S.D. Warren Mill. Judging from the automobiles, it was probably taken sometime in the 1920s. 

S.D. Warren’s gleaming white smoke stack was then an area landmark and could be seen from miles around. Even through the 1970s you always knew you had reached home when you caught sight of it or its billowing smoke.     

On the left side, through the trees, can be seen the “White House” which was later replaced by No. 9 paper machine building.

The steam pipe, seen running from the left side of the last window on the  mill building and over the street, was supplying heat to the Warren Congregational Church and parsonage. Today that area comprises the Maine Health Partners building and parking lot.

Scenery and times may change, but photographs maintain the memories!

See ‘S.D. Warren Stack’, ‘Other White House’ and ‘Warren Congregational Church’ on the Photos Archive’s pages, for more detailed information.


424 Main Street


Writer Henrik Ibsen (1828 – 1906) is credited with being the one who first said "A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed." This has been plagiarized and para-phrased into what we now know as  “A picture is worth a thousand words”.   The Internet defines this old adage as meaning  that ‘complex and sometimes multiple ideas can be conveyed by a single still image.’  This editor thinks that a picture is worth a thousand questions:  …who took the picture?… where/when was it taken?... what is it a picture of? …

The above photograph, taken from The Historical Society collection,  was taken on “the corner of Main and Seavey Street”, obviously during some celebration as depicted by the banners and buntings.
The building, which is still standing,  is easy to recognize, but when was the photograph taken and what is the history of the building?   The photograph sparks the questions… and we must do the research.
Westbrook tax records shows that the building was erected in 1855.  The name on the front of the building is ‘Ansel H. Porter’ and it’s easy to see that the business sold Moxie!     Westbrook City Directories of that era report that Ansel H. Porter’s business at 424 Main Street, supplied groceries and provisions.  The building would remain the home of a market for many years. Mr. Porter resided at 95 Main Street. 
The carriages tell us  that the photograph was taken in the early to mid-20th Century, before the automobile became the preferred mode of transportation.  The bunting decorating the building shows that it was taken during a patriotic holiday, i.e. the Fourth of July,  Westbrook’s Centennial (1914), WW I Armistice Day (November 1918), or even Maine’s Centennial (1920).

On the peak of the building can be seen a sign stating “Council No. 4, Q.U.A.M. “  The Order of American Mechanics was an organization founded in PA in 1844.  It began as an anti-Catholic nativist organization which campaigned against the hiring of cheap foreign labor and proposed the patronization of American Businesses. At its beginning, membership was restricted to native born citizens. The organization later abandoned its nativist politics and became the standard insurance society “United American Mechanics”. The Order offered sick, death and funeral benefits along the lines offered by The Oddfellows. It never acted as a trade union or took part in labor disputes.  S.D. Warren workers would probably have had a Council of Q.U.A.M. with meetings held in this location.

The building later housed the Clover Farm grocery store which was sold in 1939 to Albert and Elizabeth Mathieu and became Mathieu’s Red & White Food Market.  The Mathieus lived on Forest Street with their two sons and a daughter. The store remained a neighborhood market until the early 2000s.  It now contains businesses on the first floor and six apartments on the upper floors.

166 years after its erection, the building remains a Cumberland Mills landmark. And of note: the house seen on the left of the store in both photos, also remains well cared for and a treasurer of the area.



424 Main Street, 2021

References: Photograph Collection, Obituary Collection

Joey Baillargeon, Linda Little, Carole Ledoux, Cynthia Fournier, Carole Beaulieu, Natalie Childs
December 1959



Children of Westbrook have always looked forward to winter… and this photo shows why.  Taken on Speirs Street (as written on the back, along with the names), it is easy to imagine the local children gathering to build this great snowman, with his pointed hat and old broom.  Sleds have been put aside in order to accomplish this feat.

Oh, the joys of winter … when you were young!


George T.Springer with jeweler Henry Hutchins and clerk James Pearson, at 7 Bridge Street



In 1870 George T. Springer opened a store at 7 Bridge Street in Saccarappa Village, now Westbrook.  Originally a dry goods store, it offered a wide range of optical goods, stationery, artists materials, "fancy goods," and of course, fine jewelry.  It also served the public through its circulating library.

George T. (1849-1937)  lived at 37 Brackett St  with his wife Lida and after her death, with second wife Lizzie. They are all buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

The Springer building was erected at 128 Main Street in 1894. Mr. Springer never moved his store there but the building was occupied  at times by F.D. Andersons, a drug store and soda fountain, R.C. Boothby which sold meats and provisions, and later by Westbrook Hardware, Parker’s Dress Shop and WLOB on the second floor. The building was demolished in the mid 1970s, during the Urban Renewal movement.  Today the site is a parking lot next to TD Bank ..

At the turn of the 20th century Springer’s Jewelry Store, as it was then called, moved from Bridge Street to 515 Congress.  Edmond Beaulieu Sr. acquired the store from the Springer family in 1925 an ultimately moved it to its present location on Congress Street in 1947.  Today the store has been in business for 150 years and is a well respected jewelers…. And it all began on Bridge Street!


Springer 1894
The Springer Building, 1894
Springer Hrdware
The Springer Building 1950s

References: Sscrapbook Collection, City Directories, Portland papers Oct 27,2020, Maine Historical Society
Corner of Main & Bridge Streets

Edwards block
L. W. Edwards is written over front door; sign for Haskell Silk offices is on corner of building
(old Bridge Street on right)



The Edwards Dry Goods Store was established in 1859.  Its founder was Lewis W. Edwards who was born in Westbrook and educated in its public schools.   In 1890 Mr. Edwards built the large brick building at 869 Main Street, on the corner of Bridge Street.
The ILLUSTRATED SOUVENIR of 1909, a magazine representing area businesses and merchants, described Edwards Dry Goods as the most modern and up-to-date store …  "centrally located and stocked with lines of dry and fancy goods, carpets, draperies, paper hangings, curtains, trunks, bags, furnishings of all kinds of corsets, gloves, notions, oil cloth and linoleums."   It covered three floors and employed five.

Mr. Edwards died sometime between 1910 and 1915 and F. W. Woolworth's moved into the building.  Warren Furniture occupied the site from around 1928 until the mid 2010s.   The building, called the Edwards Block, has also housed a telephone exchange, a meeting hall for churches and other organizations, Haskell Silk Mill offices, a driving school, a computer shop,  a bakery and a candy store.   The Portland Pie Co. occupies the corner space today (2020).  Various small businesses occupy smaller areas within the structure.  

In the early 2000s, the building was refurbished and the building and area continues to be a hub of our city. 
Not only is the building centrally located but it also has striking views of Saccarappa Falls and the Presumpscot River.

Edwards 4
Wooden building, pre 1890 (Maine Historical Society)

Edwards 2
Warren Furniture Co., circa 1950

Edwards 3
Edwards Block 2020
References: Illustrated Souvenir 1909, City Directories, Maine Historical Society web site

Westbrook Dairy Queen take-out window 1950s



The Dairy Queen soft-serve formula was first developed in 1938 and the first Dairy Queen store was opened in 1940 in Joliet, Illinios.  It became a popular dessert and quickly this shop branched out to other locations.  The chain soon started to use a  franchise system to expand its operations, going from ten stores in 1941 to one hundred by 1947, 1,446 in 1950, and 2,600 in 1955.  

In 1951, the Dairy Queen arrived in Westbrook!  I believe it was one of the first  DQs in Maine at that time.  It was owned by Marie and Milo Vacchiano and quickly became  a popular meeting place on hot summer evenings and after ball games.  It  only offered  walk-up service and was open only during the summers; during the winter the owners went to Florida.

Bob & Arline Patten later bought the business and the building was remodeled in 1967,  and again in 1980 after a fire swept through the upper part of the building. At the time of the 1980 remodeling, the Pattens created a small eat-in area and in  2001 it became a DQ Chill & Grill where hot foods are served.  It is now open year round and continues to be a very popular spot after Little League games.

Renovated Dairy Queen, 1971
DQ Chill & Grill 2020

References:American Journal archives

                                SCOTCH HILL : A COLONY BUILT FOR SCOTTISH WEAVERS
                                                      (Walker and Pike Streets)


Scotch Hill
Scotch Hill Homes



The first few Scots who came to Westbrook are believed to have arrived as early as 1852 and a few more trickled in during the 1860s and 70s and worked in the paper mill and on farms.  However, the first large  immigration occurred in 1881 when 42 Scots were recruited as experienced weavers. They arrived with machinery brought from Scotland for use in the Westbrook Manufacturing Company. The Scots left their homeland in the hope of improving their economic lots.

These 1881 weavers were subsequently followed by other native Scots who came to Westbrook in groups both large and small. These fine people lived in homes built for them by the Westbrook Manufacturing company. The homes were situated on a rise of land near the mills, on Walker and Pike Streets. The neighborhood soon became known as  “Scotch Hill” and is still called that today by older Westbook citizens.

The homes were laid out to form a horseshoe around a central field where rugby was played. Old timers would tell of the Scotch soccer and rugby games, when Westbrook teams played against crews of the English Steamboats docked in Portland Harbor. Often the people of Westbrook were treated to the novel sight of a brawny Highlander in kilt, plaid, bonnet and sportan, marching around the center field,  playing “stirring war marches, lively jibs and reels, and weird, doleful laments of his native land.”   These events carried on Scottish traditions while giving the people a sense of belonging here. The Scotch Caledonia Flute band played for all the parades in town. They also played at Scottish gatherings on the hill when lovely old ballads were sung from “Bonnie Scotland”. [See Photo Archives for an early article about the Cairns and the Kimond families.]

Over the years these families moved on to other places and the neighborhood became more diverse but descendants of the early settlers can still be found within our city, with names of Graham, Smith, Bell, Adair, MacNair, Millions, Burgh, Quinn, Bryson, and Hendersons, giving evidence of this once-fine community.

    scotch hill map
Parts of this article were taken from notes given to the Historical Society by Dorothy Kinmond LaChance. She drew the map on the left in the early 1950s, using her memories of the early settlement. It was passed on to the Society in 1991.
scotch hill2020
This 2020 photo was taken from Pike Street, looking toward homes on Walker Street. The central park is still a much used site for the neighborhood..

References: Neighborhoods Scrapbooks, Memories of Dorothy Kimond LaChance.

The peaceful setting of Saccarappa Cemetery



Saccarappa Cemetery is Westbrook’s oldest city (public) burial grounds.  The land, on a hill at the end of  Church Street, was purchased in 1827.  Seventy-five Saccarappa citizens paid Nathaniel and Sarah Haskell $200 for this parcel of land located near the Village. 
The earliest marker is for Albion Haskell who died in 1825 at the age of two months. Whether the marker was there at the time of purchase, or placed there after the cemetery for laid out, is anyone’s guess.
Over 100 veterans of U.S. conflicts can be found here; such as Revolutionary War veterans  Joseph Quinby and Nathaniel Hatch;  Spanish American War veterans  James Morris and  Marshall Merrill; War of 1812  veterans Henry Wheeler and Joseph Small; and Civil War vets  Royal Kollock and Enoch Wescott.  Since the cemetery is still active, veterans from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, are also interred here.  Many familiar Westbrook names can be found in Saccarappa Cemetery: Conant, Trickey, Quinby/Quimby, Cloudman, Haskell, Edwards.

In 1914 the cemetery was given over to the care of Woodlawn Cemetery Trustees and is now under the care of Westbrook Public Services.

Because of the isolated location of the cemetery - on a dead-end street on a hill above William Clarke Dr. and next to Beaver Pond, it has become a popular place for partying, and it has been vandalized many times, leaving stones broken and tipped over.  The weather and large trees in the area have also taken their toll on the condition of the stones; many are no longer readable so we thank those who, in the past, have documented the stones and their epitaphs.

Note: The Saccarappa Cemetery’s stones have been transcribed at least three times: in 1962 by Mrs. Lottie B. Clark Gorrie, in 1978 by W Nash Davis & Dorothy Quinby Davis, and in 2001 by Donna & Norm Conley.  Each transcription found that many of the previously listed stones were missing or severely damaged due to weather or vandalism. Thus, we are losing much of our City's history.

Intricately carved stones are found in the cemetery
Signs of neglect and decay are also found
References: Cemetery Notebooks

walker house 2
The Walker House, 17 Brook Street - before 1892
(Dirt road along foreground of photograph is now Brook Street )



Henry B. Walker was a prominent Westbrook (Pride’s Corner) citizen in the 1800s.  He was a brick maker, farmer, Selectman, Justice of the Peace and a member of the Democratic Party.  His came from a family     of  brick manufactures who operated at least 3 brick yards in Prides Corner. Bricks from the Walker brick yards were used to build many local homes and  many of the downtown sidewalks and  businesses.

Henry and Mary Ann Lunt*, daughter of George Lunt*, were married in 1847 and Henry bought George Lunt’s house at Pride’s Corner.  He tore down the wooden house in 1889 to erect  the beautiful brick mansion, on the corner of Brook and Bridgton Road, still standing over 100 years later. The bricks for this Italianate-style home were hand pressed in his brick yard. The house had granite lintels and a widow’s walk.  Parties and dances, with local fiddlers providing the music, were held on the second floor, rear.

After the death of Mary Ann Lunt, Henry married her sister Zelia Lunt.  The home remained in the Walker family until the 1940s when it was sold and turned into the Bishop Nursing Home.  In the 1970s it was sold again and had a succession of owners before falling empty and into disrepair and deterioration. In the 1990s it was bought by a private family who beautifully restored it; it remains privately owned and is a residence and AirBnB.

*G.W. Lunt (1794 – 1871) is buried at 355 Bridgton Rd (302) in the Lunt Cemetery, behind the Community of Grace Church. His daughter, Mary Ann Lunt WALKER  (1834 – 1861) ,  wife of H.B. Walker  is also interred here.
Henry B. Walker (1819-1900) and his second wife, Zelia A. Lunt WALKER (1825-1899) are buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery, inside Evergreen Cemetery on Stephens Avenue

walker house 302
The Walker House, 2020, as seen from U.S. 302
walker house brook
The Walker House, 2020, as seen from Brook Street
walker lintels
Granite lentils and small, hand pressed bricks
Henry b walker
Henry B. Walker Sept. 1879
References: An Early History of Pride's Corner by John R. Lewis; Westbrook Firefighters Yearbook 2000; Highlights of Westbrook History, Compiled by Ernest R Rowe & others; Scrapbook collection, House Survey Notebook







Beaver Pond is located on high land above the flood plain of Presumpscot River, between Spring ad Church Streets. Because the land falls away in all directions there is no watershed feeding it that could cause serious changes to water level. Because it was on the outskirts of town and wasn’t affected by the uncertain water conditions of the river, it was used as a waterway by the Cumberland & Ohio Canal.  The canal towpath horses used the north bank of the pond and then crossed the south bank by means of a horse bridge.  Now, that was an overview of the pond but how did it come by its name?

Years before white settlers came to Saccarappa  (later called Westbrook), hunters and trappers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire often came to the area hunting for beavers.  The beaver was the most plentiful and valuable of all the fur bearing animals in this area. White traders trapped the beaver or bartered with the local natives for their valuable pelts.  It is reasonable to assume that in the long-ago past, the beaver built its dam upon the little rill that emptied into the pond near 55 Spring Street.  Therefore, the resulting large pond probably received its name from the plentiful beaver found in the area by these early visitors.
See ‘People, Places and Events’ page for a poem dedicated to memories of the pond.
For many years an annual Fishing Derby was held at Beaver Pond. The Westbrook Rod and Gun Club stocked the pond and provided prizes.  In 1948 there were 1,192 young fishermen participating. 
The following poem was written to commemorate the event.

Westbrook, ME 
by William Jacobs, 1996

An ancient rite of spring occurred
I’ve seen it here today.
They’re fishing on the Beaver Pond,
The ice just went away.
March winds are still blowing cold,
but it’s April third today.
The trees are bending from the wind
and water’s rippling spray.
They’re fishing off the point of land
Where tow path bridge did cross,
and Canal boat were towed along
by the plodding of the horse.
It seems the local “Rotary”
would stock the pond with trout,
and a thousand kids with fishing poles
went scurring (sic) about.
They called it “the fishing Derby”
and prizes were to be won.
The people came from miles around
Just for a day of fun.
Close by is Saccarappa hill,
A cemetery by the pond
where lovely ancient fern did grow
with long and pointed fronds.
And Sunday’s picnic baskets
brimmed with delights galore
spread out on the banking
along the Beaver’s shore.
Yes, they’re fishing on the Beaver Pond,
the ice just went away
and memories, and thoughts of youth
come back for one more day!


References: Fabius Ray’s Story of Westbrook, Highlights of Westbrook History, Scrapbook Collection, Westbrook Historical Society NEWSLETTERs






In 1920 Arthur Keating moved from Portland to Westbrook to open a grocery business.  The Keating Market opened in 1925 and was at 100 Brackett Street, on the Beaver Pond.   In 1930 Arthur had the store demolished and rebuilt by O.G.K. Robinson, a local business.  The new building included the store and an apartment upstairs where the family resided.   At that time, the store had the largest meat counter and penny candy display in the city. Mr. Keating also had a truck that delivered groceries to all their customers. 
Arthur was also the owner of another store located on Spring Street. The store later became Art’s Variety and is now (2019) Pho Co. Variety.

Arthur Keating died in 1945 and his daughter Alice managed Keating Market until the 1960s, when she sold it. It then became the Milton Market and later on, the Beaver Pond Market.

Arthur Keating and daughter Betty
Arthur, Elizabeth, Alice, and Nora (Dolly) Keating
References: Recollections of Westbrook by James Cote; Business & Industry Notebook



Interior of Kourapis Fruit Co.



Louis Kourapis came from Athens, Greece in the early 1900s to work in a paper mill in South Windham. A few years later he entered the fruit business in Westbrook. By 1915 he operated a small fruit business and soda fountain on Central Street. He originally started the business, Kourapis Fruit & Candy Co.,  with his cousin, Alex Kourapis, but bought him out two years later when Alex returned to Greece.

In 1946 Louis purchased the C.P. Paine Property at 883-888 Main Street. At that time the newspaper stated that the property contained the oldest buildings in Vallee Square. They were supposedly built in 1808 and acquired by Paine in 1869.   Soon after the 1946 purchase, the buildings were demolished and a new 1-story brick building was erected on the corner of Central and Main Street.  The building became home to the Kourapis Fruit Co. until 1974. 

During its later years the businees was owned by Odie Kourapis, son of Louis. During the 1970's Urban Renewal Movement, the Star Theater (which was on Main Street and across Central Street from Kourapis) was demolished and Central Street was closed off to become Martini Lane. 

Since then, the Kourapis site has changed hands (and names) many times.  It has housed the Main Street Café, a hot dog shop, an antique business and tea room, and lastly, Top Kabab take-out. Martini Beverage is now at the site of the Star Theater.

The C. P. Paine Block 1946
The 'new ' Kourapis Fruit Co.
Site, as seen in 2000s
References: Westbrook Main Street Album compiled by Bette Billings 1992, Scrapbook Collection, Postcard Collection



Woodbury Phelps1
1277 Bridgton Road - 2019



At one time the entire Duck Pond area (or Highland Lake, as it is called today), was Woodbury property. Peter Woodbury was a large land owner and first known settler in the area.  He also built the first sawmill here, near the bridge where Duck Pond Road crosses Mill Brook, the outlet for Highland Lake (at that time called Duck Pond.)  On the corner of Bridgton and Hardy Roads, by the ‘Walking Man’ sign, is a land mark stone:
                             “Woodbury Knoll - Dedicated in memory of the Woodbury family,
                             owners by Grant from the King of England about 1700. Held in
                             uninterrupted possession by the heirs to date.”

The large colonial house pictured above, was built by Peter Woodbury in the late 1700s, making it one of oldest houses in Duck Pond.   It is located at 1277 Bridgton Road, on the corner of Bridgton and Duck Pond Roads.  These two roads were (and still are) a part of the main route from Portland, through Windham and Raymond, and on to points in New Hampshire and Vermont.  At the time of its construction it made the ideal stopping place for travelers, stagecoaches and teamsters, and served as the travelers’ tavern.

In later year the house was later bought by C. Pride, then by Alfred Phelps, Alfred Phelps II, and today is owned by Hayden Phelps. It is currently known as the “Phelps’ House”.  Although it is now in critical need of restoration, it has always been one of the Editor’s favorite Westbrook houses. 

Woodbury Phelps3
Woodbury Phelps House 1998 (garage in back of house is still standing)

Woodbury Phelps2
Land mark stone across street from house

References: Research by Nellie Spiller, Westbrook Firefighters Yearbook  1999, Highlights of Westbrook History,
House survey note books

(See previous article about the Dedication of the  Park, in Photo-Archives)


Riverbank Park 2019
(with picnic tables, paved roads, playground)



On Jan 26, 1916 the Trustees of Riverbank Park presented their annual report to the city. They reported that last summer (1915) the City Council voted to make Riverbank Park a separate department of the city’s business. Its care and grounds development was placed under the management of the Cemetery Trustees. Those trustees voted that the rental income from the city-owned houses* in the park would be put into a fund that would pay for the care and improvements in the park; previously no funds were available for any improvement work.  Mayor O.G.K. Robinson then ordered the trustees to design and build a street within the park.  The street, with sidewalk on both sides, was built and graded, and given a coat of ashes.  The street ran from the rear of the site of the soldiers’ monument and continued to the river, and from High Street to Dunn Street.  The total cost of the street was $100.00
               [*During the fifties there were houses on the Riverbank property. One was inhabited by the Director of Cemeteries & Parks (Allen Small) and one (at the site where the flag pole now stands) was the home of the family of Willis Mitchell who was one of Westbrook’s first regular policemen, and served as Chief of Police for many years in the early 1900s. Over the years these homes were demolished and the Park was enlarged.]

The report also stated that the trustees were glad to report the gift of a drinking fountain for park, given by the  Ammoncongin Club. ( See previous article in Photo-Archives, on the Ammoncongin Literary Club).  The fountain was placed on a cement foundation to the right of the park’s Main Street entrance. The report ended with the statement:  “May other societies follow their example and contribute to improve this one spot in our city dedicated for the benefit and recreation of all our citizens.”

This last sentence of the trustees’ report has certainly been heeded over the last 100 years.  Thanks to the city and local organizations and groups, the park has grown to include a 66’ flag pole (thanks to the Stephen Manchester Post) and memorials for our veterans. A large, well maintained and much-used  playground, and bandstand complete the park’s structures.  Park activities included summer concerts, Saturday Farmers’ market, art shows, local races, parades and the Westbrook Together Days festivities.  Granite curbs and flowering shrubs complete the park layout.  And the Park even has its own Facebook page!

This wonderful gift, Riverbank Park, given to the citizens of Westbrook to celebrate the City’s 100th anniversary is, without a doubt, the best gift ever given to us!  

The old bandstand

Ward 2 polling place, a small yellow building, was situated on the banks of the Presumpscot, just behind the American Legion building. Westbrook's oldest polling place, it was roughly 100 years old when it was demolished in 2002.

10 welch
Leo Welch, Sr. installing his son, Leo Welch, Jr, as commander of Stephen W. Manchester Post. 
The news article stated that:  “Dad appeared proud as punch”


Are you of Walsh/Welsh/Welch heritage?  The name was Walsh in Ireland, Welsh in Canada, and changed to Welch in Maine.  (See ‘People, Places and Events’ page to learn more.)
Ann Twombley wrote in her family genealogy (on file at the Society) that when she was growing up in Westbrook in the 1930’s and 1940’s there were many people in town by the name of Welch … and that they were all related.
A check of Westbrook City Directories for 1930 - 1950, listed anywhere from 12 to 21 Welch names. Many were listed as employees of S.D. Warren or managers of local stores, but many had their own businesses or professions.  There was Grover and Roger of Welch & Welch Law Office on Main St., Patrick was a health officer for the City, Winfield owned the Welch Sign Shop on Files St., and Lillian was an art teacher. On Main Street there was Hood’s Drug Store owned by Roy (H. Leroy) Welch and managed by Philip Welch.
Leo Welch owned Paine’s Pharmacy, in the triangle at Cumberland Mills.  Leo was a registered pharmacist and had worked in other drug stores in Westbrook.  A WW I veteran he was active in the American Legion and served as its Commander.  Leo and son James purchased the drug store/pharmacy when WW II ended and James was discharged home. Leo was described as a “suave operator… very polished when waiting on attractive older ladies”.  Business started to boom with a younger crowd of patrons in the area and Leo and James did well in the business. 

  References: "Growing up in Cumberland Mills" by Grayson Hartley; Scrapbook Collection; Genealogy by Ann Twombly Bonang  
75 Stroudwater2
75 Stroudwater Street

Recently a woman came into the Society to look for information on her house, which she said was made from a Sears Roebuck house kit.  Since this was an unknown entity to us, it resulted in some on-line research and sure enough, there it was… a Sears Kit Home!

The owner of the Stroudwater Street home in question, says that they had been told that their house was a Sears kit which came in pieces, to be put together like a jig saw puzzle. It was built in 1928. They have taken off a piece of molding and have found identifying numbers on it.  Are there more homes like this in Westbrook?

Our research told of a few ways to discover if your house is a Sears home:
It had to have been built between 1908 to 1940.
Look for stamped numbers on exposed beams in crawl spaces or in the attic (or on molding).
Look for shipping labels on back of moldings and trim.
Visit the courthouse or City Hall to inspect old building permits and grantor records. .
Check plumbing fixtures for “R” or “SR” markings
Sears home kits came with a 75-page instruction book for its 10,000-30,000 piece house and, as mentioned above, each piece was marked to facilitate construction. They were shipped to the buyer via rail. The lumber was marked on the tall side and markings can be found 2-10 inches from the end of the framing piece. 

To read more about this fascinating piece of history go to: , or do an internet search and let us know if you discover another Westbrook Sears kit home.. 


75 Stroudwater1
75 Stroudwater Street, Westbrook

75 Stroudwater4
Old Sears ad for The Castleton house kit
  References: Internet search; Personal interview  

In 1948 local country singer, musician, and businessman Al Hawkes and his wife Barbara started a radio repair shop on the corner of Bridgton and Hardy Roads in Westbrook (on busy U.S. Route 302). By 1955 televisions were becoming popular and the business expanded to a TV service-repair shop. Al envisioned a sign to advertise the business. He wanted one that would stand out and catch the eye of passing motorists.  He wanted it to be large (like a sign on the Sandman Hotel in South Portland), colorful (like the Pratt Abbott sign in Portland), and have motion (like the Universal Laundry sign on Congress St. in Portland): large, movable, colorful, and personable! All these signs are now gone but Al’s vision lives on.

With thoughts of these signs in mind, and with the aid of an advertising sign book, Al came up with his design for a large WALKING MAN:  a large, colorful, walking man, on the side of the road!  With the help of local friends, Al designed and built the sign which is still standing.

The sign is made of I-beams, formed galvanized sheet metal, mechanical motor driven parts, and electrical contacts and lights, and stands 13-feet tall.  It had 400 eleven-watt bulbs flashing in an arrow pattern and was completed in December 1962. It was one of the first mechanical, moving signs in the state.  It stands at 1274 Bridgton Road in the Duck Pond area of Westbrook and for many years the sign, with swinging arms and tool box, was a welcome sight for anyone driving to or from Portland on Bridgton Road (Roosevelt Trail). Although the man never moves his legs, with both arms swinging  and his leg bent, it gives the impression that he does walk. 

Hawkes TV Repair closed in 1989 and the sign was turned off, but it was still considered a local landmark.

In 2014, a group of Duck Pond residents and Westbrook Historical Society members started a drive to have the sign designated as an historic landmark.  Mike Sanphy (President of the Historical Society and City Mayor), Martha Brackett, Ken Moody, Phil Spiller, and Deb Shangraw began working to gain federal status for the sign.  That work paid off in July when the sign was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, adding local pride to Duck Pond Corner where it has been situated for 57 years. Job well done!

(If you are lucky, like I was when I drove up to take the above photo, you may see the arms swinging again... when the local business which now own the Hawkes' building, turns it on for short periods of time.)

  References: Westbrook Firefighters Magazine, 1999 Yearbook, American Journal, Portland Papers  
whs 1890

Members of Westbrook High School, class of 1890*, the first class to graduate from the High School on Main Street
(Far left is Ella M. Melcher and next to her is Leonard C. Holston.
These two later married and their daughter-in-law, Darlene Holston, donated this photograph in 2005)

Down through the years from the time Westbrook High School was established, it has been progressing in education and expanding in size. These interesting items have been collected from the minds and memories of past graduates... :

In 1883, the first public graduation was held by Westbrook High at a Congregational Church. There were three graduates: Lotta May Woodman, Eleanor Murch, and Hattie Hamblin.

Around the turn of the century, the school day began at 8:00 and came to an end at 12:00. Such pranks, as are played today, were played then. Boys rolled "shot" down the aisle letting it hit against the wall making a noise which disturbed the class. They chewed on their tongues to attract the attention of the teachers who would ask what they were chewing on. They would then stick out their tongues.

Grace MacPherson, a teacher at Forest Street, recalled from 1900-1902, that manual training was established by Ned Warren at Warren School. This subject was open to boys and girls alike. The first item the girls made was a wedge.

Physical Education was promoted by Cornelia Warren and one of the earliest instructors was Mr. Ross.
Another thing to note, for years morning exercises were held for all classes in the Main Room.

In 1912, the first Washington trip was held, at the cost of $32 per person. The chaperones for this trip were Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, the principal and his wife. The group took a train to Boston, but proceeded on to New York by boat. As they entered New York harbor early in the morning, they saw the Statue of Liberty. In the city they visited the Hippodrome. From New York they traveled to Philadelphia and saw such interesting sights as the U.S. Mint and the Liberty Bell. After leaving Washington, it took them five days to reach home.

Basketball has always been an attraction at Westbrook High and in 1911, they went to the games on a trailer, hitched to the back of a trolley car. When Westbrook won the basketball championship in the years between 1913 and 1917, Hazel Wyer, a teacher in Westbrook, recalled how the students did a snake dance down Congress Street. The games were held at Cumberland Gym and plays, shows, etc., at the Star Theatre.

The Woman's Relief Corps presented Westbrook High School with an American flag in 1918. In 1919, the Seniors taught some of the subjects to the lower classes because of a shortage of teachers.

Harold Fernald, a student in 1920, remembered the days when the students from Pride's Corner came to school by horse-and-buggy while the students from White Rock came by train. That year the graduation was held outdoors at Warren Park.

The Blue and White was published with class pictures for the first time in 1921, but these pictures were only snapshots.

Miss Abbott, a history teacher at Westbrook High, came in 1925 when James Lewis was principal.  In this year the Charleston became the dance craze and school was closed for the Gorham Fair. 

  * The Class of 1890 held its graduation ceremonies at the Methodist Church. Other members of the class, as listed in the Graduation Program, were:  May E. Andrews, Mary J. Bacon, Edith A. Bragdon, Ernest L. Dresser, Louie A. Goodall, Sadie M. Hacker, Ida M. Hallowell, Walter F. Haskell, Frank E. Heller, William M. Lamb, Carrie M. Pratt, Mabel G. Trickey, John H. Warren, Ethel M. Winslow, and George M Woodman.  
'Old' Westbrook High School
whs add
Westbrook High School with 'New' addition on left
References: Copied from The Blue & White, Westbrook High School yearbook 1955
The Reverand Edward E. Bacon

This regal-looking photograph was found in our ‘Westbrook People’ notebook.  The back is labeled “Rev. Edward E.  Bacon, 5 Brackett Street, Pastor of Westbrook Congregational Church”.   Wondering why someone would have had, and then passed on, this picture, I did a quick check in the Westbrook Congregational Church’s centennial booklet (see ‘Collections’ page). 

There I learned that Rev. Bacon was installed on January 11, 1881 and held the position of pastor of the Westbrook Congregational Church for twelve years.  He is noted to have resigned in 1893. During his pastorate the church thrived and grew in number. His first act was to spearhead a drive to purchase a pipe organ for the church.  His actions were successful and the organ served the congregation for over During his pastoral term, the church celebrated its the 1st Children’s Day, revised the Declaration of Faith so that it more clearly adhered to that of other churches of their denomination, and the board of deacons was reorganized with the requirement that the clerk and treasurer be members of the church.  He also introduced the practice of weekly offerings. With all these accomplishments it is easy to see why it is stated that his resignation was accepted, “to the great sorrow of many”. 

Other interesting historical items about the Westbrook Congregational Church: the church was first lighted by electricity in 1893, and its name was changed from Saccarappa Parish to the Westbrook Congregational Parish. That church building, on the corner of Main and Brackett Streets, was demolished during Westbrook Urban Renewal in the 1970s, and the current Westbrook Warren Congregational Church was built at 565 Main Street. This building was the result of the merger of the Westbrook and the Warren congregations. 

References: Westbrook Congregational Church notebooks and publications.
To view Photo of the Month Archives, click here
Pvt. Stephen W. Manchester

Stephen W. Manchester was born in 1886 to Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Manchester of Westbrook, ME. He died in France, at age 31, on July 13, 1918. He was the first Westbrook serviceman killed in WW I.

He attended Warren School (now a daycare center on the corner of Main St., across from the Public Safety Building) and just down the street from his home on Locust Street. After leaving school he went to work at S.D. Warren Co.  [Note: there is no record that he graduated from Westbrook High School.]

Stephen came from a military-history family; his great-grandfather Stephen, was a renowned Indian fighter in Windham and his grandfather was killed in the Civil War. When President Wilson declared war on Germany in April 1917, Stephen  joined the  Milliken Regiment of heavy artillery,  based in Brunswick, on July 28, 1917. He was sent overseas on November 9, 1917.

On July 11, 1918 Stephen was wounded by a shell burst while serving in the Soissons-Reims Sector in France.  He died on July 13th in the 103rd field hospital. [Note: there are conflicting reports on the dates of his injury and death; his cemetery stone states he died July 11, newspaper reports say July 13 and July 17.]  He was brought home for a full military burial in Woodlawn Cemetery, but not until 1921.

The American Legion Post #62 was formed in October 1919 by forty-four returning WW I veterans  and was named for this Westbrook man.

References: Westbrook Cemeteries, news clippings, Society scrapbook collection, Philip LaViolet Military Collection.
brackett st, early
Looking up Brackett Street

In this age of automobile mobility and changing scenery, it is nice to look back on an era when life was stable and everyone knew their neighbors and neighborhoods.   [See the ‘People, Places and Events’ page for an article about ‘Remembering Brown Street 1930s to 1940s’.]  

The Society recently received this beautiful photograph, taken before the construction of William Clarke Drive, and labeled ‘Brackett Street’.  At the same time, we received an article entitled  “Memories of More than 65 years of old Brackett Street, Saccarappa Village.”   The article is unsigned but due items in its contents, it was probably written around the turn of the Century by Albert H. Parker.  It is a long narrative, describing in detail the street, neighborhood, and people; some of the writer’s memories are written below.

“Going one morning up to the “Village” as many of the older residents  still call that part of the town, I noticed that the wonderful century-old elms were being cut down. These trees were on the Main street just opposite Brackett Street…. The beautiful old trees made a very pretty setting for old Brackett Street. The memories of over sixty years seemed to come to me and I could see the old street as when I was a child…. I saw the old church on the left [Westbrook Congregational Church]. This church was built in 1832…[here he goes on to describe the interior of the church; see the ‘Photos Archives to see pictures of the interior of the church]….

“Brackett Street was laid out by Zachariah Brackett and named for him. His son, Sewell Brackett built the brick block on the right hand corner and carried on the tin business, making all kinds of tin ware and selling stoves... 

“…back of the church was the little house…owned and occupied by the Coolbroth ladies, three sisters, girls they were always called.  One was the wife of Leander Valentine…teacher in the little red schoolhouse [and later first Mayor of Westbrook]…. [one of the houses on Brackett Street] was the home of Rev. Mr. Stout, a Methodist minister, and of Rev. Mr. Whitcher of the Baptist faith……the big double house next to the track was owned by Captain Isaac Quimby and my father, Joshua G. Parker…

…what a wonderful jubilee we had when the news came that General Lee had surrendered to General Grant and the war was practically ended… followed by the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln… The windows of all the homes on Brackett Street expressed their grief….”


And so the writer's memories go, giving us a wonderful taste of days gone by!

References: See House Survey and Neighborhoods notebooks at the Westbrook Historical Society
Main Street, looking north

This old photograph of Main Street shows the F.W. Woolworth Company 5 & 10 Cent Store, McLellan Stores Co. 5 Cent to 1 Dollar, and The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, later know simply as A&P Grocery. Today Fajita Grill and Full Court Press occupy this space.

In the photo people are standing around, looking into the store fronts, where the rubble and damage caused by the fire of February 14, 1934 can be seen.

As reported in the Portland Press Herald,  a fire at the McLellan 5 and 10 Cent Store was called in at 7 PM on the night of February 14th, 1934.   It was believed to have been caused by an explosion in an oil burner. The fire raged for several hours before it was declared under control at 1:30 AM.  However, a little after 4 AM the fire broke out again and Portland Fire Department had to be called in to assist in containing it. By the time the fire was finally extinguished, on the morning of February 15th, there was 5 inches of water in the basement of the 3 stores. McLellan's main floor had fallen in and the store sustained extensive damage.  Woolworth and the market at the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company had escaped the first fire with just  smoke and water damage but by the time the 2nd fire was ut,  there was complete destruction of the entire block.


Reports of this fire, and of many otheres, can be found in many of our scrap books and in the Westbrook Fire Department Collection..


References: Scrapbook Collection

written for the City's Centennial celebration
The Presumpscot River, looking toward area where power plant was later built

The greater part of Westbrook is situated between North Lat. 48 deg., and 40 min., and 43 deg., 45 min., and between West Long. 70 deg., 20 min., and 70 deg., 25 min.  From the point of intersection between South Portland, Scarboro and Westbrook to the point of intersection of Falmouth, Windham and Westbrook, the distance is about 7 ½ miles. The greatest width is 3 ¼ miles and the point showing the least width is 2 1/8 miles, and its area is about 21 square miles or 14,000 acres.

The elevation of the populous part of Westbrook, which is along the banks of the Presumpscot River, is low; averaging about 30 ft. above sea level. The highest point of land in Westbrook is known as Gowen’s Hill, on Duck Pond Street, not far from the Falmouth line. Its elevation is 300 ft.
               Elevation of the Principal Hills:
               Rocky Hill…………….240 ft.
               Deer Hill………………120 ft.
               Chapman Hill……….100 ft.
               Conant Hill…………..100 ft.

Westbrook is favored with rivers and streams. The Presumpscot is the principal river and source of the establishment of the great industries of Westbrook.  It flows through Westbrook for a distance of 2 ½ miles and is a boundary for about 3 miles. The Stroudwater River is a stream of many sources, and flows through the southerly part of Westbrook for a distance of over 4 miles.  Duck Pond brook is the outlet of the present Highland Lake and is a turbulent stream and formerly had a number of saw miles. [Both of these waterways formerly had many mills in operation along their banks, but as their flows gradually waned and the mills fell into disuse and decay.]

According to the tax assessor’s list of 1814, Saccarappa had 9 saw mills, 2 grist mills, 2 carding and fulling mills; Congin had 3 saw mills, 1 grist mill; Stroudwater River had 2 saw mills, 1 grist mill; Duck Pond and Duck Pond Brook had 5 saw mills and 1 grist mill.  There were 5 tanneries in Westbrook in 1815.

On September 2, 1816, the town voted for separation from “old” Massachusetts by a vote of 246 yeas to 29 nays.


References: History of Westbrook by Leroy H. Rand for the Centennial of Incorporation of Westbrook; notes from Ernest Rowe and Hon. Fabius Raye

pool, 1966,
Cornelia Warren Pool, 1966


Summer is here and we’re all heading to the beach, or to the local pool, to get cool.   “The Old Swimming Pool” has been featured in a ‘Photo of the Month’ (see Photo Archives), and since then, the Society has received the following letter from P. Morin, Jr.


“In the summer of 1966 I was both a life guard/swimming instructor [at the Cornelia Warren Pool] and did what little maintenance was required on the pool. My chair was down on the far right on the deep end, I pulled more than a few brave kids out who were way over their heads. My uncle Matt would periodically deliver huge carboys of chlorine from the mill, I hate to think how many shirts we ruined handling that stuff. We finally got a tester to check the chlorine levels. up to that point, we could tell when the birds stopped drinking from the pool, we had too much chlorine in the pool.  The pool held approximately 500,00 gallons of water. We would drain and clean the pool about every two weeks. We basically used street brushes and lots of water to get the job done. I worked with some wonderful people there, and quite possibly one of the best jobs I would ever have.”


"The high dive, the board was only ten feet off the water,
seemed higher at the time."
pool, high
It's a long way down!

pool, Ash
Ash Atherton, Westbrook's Athletic Director, was a familiar figure at the pool  


ED: The Cornelia Warren Pool, off Main Street, was completed in 1949 and replaced the old swimming tank that was in the Presumpscot River; see Photo Archives.

Article and Photographs supplied by P. Morin, Jr.
The Dean family, outside the Ar-Lu-Do Farm (Winslow-Boody house)


On a long, tree-lined lane off East Bridge Street, sits the large house known locally as the Winslow-Boody home. James Winslow, a Mayflower descendent, moved from Massachusetts to Falmouth (as this area was then called) in the 1740s, after receiving a grant of 125 acres here.  By 1748 he had outgrown his first small house next to the river, and he constructed the home that now stands at 473 East Bridge Street.   The Winslows were the first early Falmouth family to adopt the Quaker faith and Quaker meetings were held in the home. Westbrook’s first recorded school was held here in 1794 and Robert Blair, a Quaker minister, was the teacher. The home was passed on to James' son, Nathan, then on to Nathan the 2nd.  In 1830, daughter Sarah Winslow married Benjamin Boody;  and the farm  became known as the Winslow-Boody house. It remained in the Boody family until 1909.

  Alvin F. Dean of Portland then purchased the property and called it Ar-Lu-Do Farm, using the first two letters of his children's names: Archibald, Lucy, and Dorothy. Alvin was a "gentleman farmer" and raised prize winning Ayershire cattle on the property.  
Ayershire cattle in front of barn
Dean's Pond and farm, as seen from East Bridge Street

A granddaughter of the Dean family recently sent us the photographs seen on this page. Some of them are labeled “Courtesy of Quaker Oats”, but she does not know why.  The photograph above, shows the farm and the pond which runs along the south side of East Bridge Street. Today the pond is mostly hidden from the street by trees, but it remains known as Dean’s Pond. The farm remained in the Dean family until the death of Alvin S. Dean in 1939. The house then became the residence of  Warren G. Stiles, until his death in 1951.


The next owner was the C. Sam DiBiase family, who lived in the house and used the barn to pre-construct many of the home now seen in the DiBiase housing development, Colonial Acres.  Colonial Acres Development now surrounds the farm and stretches to the Presumpscot River. At the completion of the DiBiase construction in the early 1980s, the Wilson-Boody home was purchased by a local physician and his family.

The living room
Betsy Kubick and mother Dianna Dean Warren. Dianna remembers many visits to her grandfather's home, where her mother Lucy grew up.

After 270 years, the house remains and, although added on to and renovated over the years, it still contains many of its original features, such as some of the original 32 inch-wide boards (taken from timber once on the property) and the pocket-window Indian shutters. The house has been maintained in excellent condition.



Spring is here, date-wise anyway. This is the time of year when we all think of heading outside and enjoying nature. Here are two photographs from the Westbrook Historical Society collection, which show outings in the 'new automobile'. There is no information on these photographs, so if you have a similar one in your family collections, please let us know! In the meantime enjoy a peek into the past.


Editor's Note: It has since been decided that the second photo seen here, was taken in Gorham.

Stereoview of interior of Westbrook Congregational Church



The Second Congregational Church of Westbrook was built on Main Street in 1834. The First Congregational Church was on Capisic Street, Stroudwater, in what was then, part of Westbrook. (See Collections Page: Churches).

This interior photo was an early one, since the new church was described as having the choir and the pipe organ in the “singing seats in the rear of the church”. As seen in a later photo (below) the choir and organ was moved to the front of the church, thereby doing away with the practice of the congregation turning it back to the preacher during the singing of hymns. The original stereoview belonged to Mrs. Otis Wyer, a long-time member of the church.

During Urban Renewal in the 1960s, and due to deterioration of both this church and the Warren Congregational Church, those buildings were demolished, and the resulting merger of the congregations erected the present day Westbrook Warren Congregational Church.


wcc2 wccinterior
"Second" Westbrook Congregational Church ...................Later view of interior, with choir and organ in front of congregation


lambs hill
Lamb's Hill Ski Slope



In 2014, a man came into the Historical Society asking if there had ever been any ski slopes in Westbrook. After sending out queries to our members, we discovered this photo of the Lamb’s Hill ski slope, and the following memories about the slope:

George H. remembered skiing here. “They had a rope tow.  Ray Letarte ran the slope.”

Norm W. used to work there. His job was to make sure that the ropes stayed on the car wheels. It was called Lamb"s Hill Slope in the late 1950s. 

Ann B. remembered skiing in Cumberland Mills. Her Dad would drive her and her friend to the slope, then they would walk home.

Sally K. remembered sliding/skiing on Lamb’s Hill which was part of the Lamb Farm.  She and her friends would slide toward Main Street, or the rock ledge drop-off, until the horses were let out of the barn.  Those large draft horse frightened the girls…so they would decide that it was time to get back to the fence and go home.

Tom D. remembered the hill well!  “One memorable day in 1944 my Boy Scout troop spent a Saturday tobogganing there and later engaged in a monumental snowball fight. I remember being in the subgroup which defended the fort that we had constructed at the top of the hill. This was a troop attached loosely to the Warren Congregational Church, ? Troop #84?, with the minister Mr. McDonald as our Scout leader. It was a long hill and one got the longest ride down in town on toboggan, skis, or sled. I remember it was close to a house rented by the Rolfe family at the time”

Polly H. related that “in the 1930s we would walk down Main Street to Bill Lamb’s house and ask to slide down Lamb’s Hill…no ski slope there then. We would take shovels to cover the S.D. Warren rail road tracks with snow before sliding…and then clear them off when done, so the trains could use them. It was on the back side of hill where Larrabee Village is now.  Also, when I was in Miss Wyer’s class at Forest Street School, we walked down to Warren Library to the 3rd floor where Redman’s Hall was, and met Adm. MacMillan and his Eskimo…shook hands with each. Also met Charles Lindbergh in Old Orchard Beach where my grandparents lived.”


Mrs. Emmaline Jackson, organizer and first President of
The Ammoncongin Literary Club



With today’s availability of books, newspapers and easily obtainable news, both on paper and via TV and Internet, we often forget about how things were with our ancestors.

The first club for Westbrook women was formed in Cumberland Mills in December, 1892.  It would be named the AMMONCONGIN LITERARY CLUB, and would welcome any woman of Cumberland Mills who was “accepted by unanimous vote of the Advisory Board, and upon payment of an admission fee.” The Club would be limited to 50 members.

In its Constitution it stated that the Club’s purpose was to   “create a center for mutual improvement of its members in literature, science, art, and the current events of the day.”   The Constitution also stated that there would be no unkind criticism among members, and that partisan politics and sectarian religion would not be discussed.

Programs were presented by members at each meeting, and the topics of the programs reflected the statue of women in that day.  Authors such as Tennyson, Whitter, Longfellow, and Shakespeare were discussed and compared; readings were given of The Merchant of Venice; there were also papers presented on  Psycical [sic] Research, Domestic Science, Hygiene, and Scientific Discoveries.
But, as an example of  ‘what goes around, comes around’, in 1893 their minutes report that there were reports given on the use of medications and abuse of medicine; immigration, “not so much the numbers as the quality of our immigrants, some restrictions must be made. Capitalists responsible for the undesirable element in immigration”…subjects that are still being discussed in 2017!
The Ammoncongin Literary Club became recognized as the oldest woman’s club in Westbrook and continued to be active up until 1969.  Aside from the regular course of study, the club also responded to may calls for charity and was identified with civic betterment.


AL 2

The photo on the left is from a news article which reported on the dedication of an elm tree and bronze marker in Riverbank Park.  To commemorate its 40th anniversary in November 1932, the past presidents of the Ammoncongin Literary Club planted the tree.
Pictured, left to right: Mrs. Cora Roberts, Mrs. Sarah Ames, Mrs. Isabel Ray (oldest past president in point of service), Mrs. Rose Graham, Mrs. Ernest Theis, Mrs. Ralph Whitney, and Mrs. Paul Fraser.

    References: Ammoncongin Literary Club records, on file at the Historical Society  

The American Band



Westbrook has long been known for its love of music and its great bands.  One of Westbrook’s earliest bands, the Westbrook American Band, was incorporated by D.W. Babb.   Its first leader, as listed on a small newspaper announcement of the incorporation (date unknown), was Nelson Mayberry. Howard Babb later became its long-time leader.  The band played at parades, fairs, veterans’ functions, and other public gatherings. It was a popular attraction right up until it was disbanded in 1894 because of 'hard times'.

The Salaberry Band, organized in 1884 by The Reverand Father A.D. Decelles, soon took over as the Westbrook Band. The band was named for a  French Canadian folk hero, Charles de Salaberry.

In the 1860s Tony Clark organized Tony Clark’s Juvenile Band. The band was where young people received a music education which prepared them for joining the city bands as they got older.

In 1889 Tony Clark organized another band in Cumberland Mills and called it the Presumpscot Band. It became a popular parade band and was known throughout state.  As membership in this band dwindled, the S. D. Warren band, organized in 1936 by Samuel Guimond who had once led the Salaberry Band, became the City Band.

A very popular youth group was the Crusaders Drum Corp, organized in 1947.  S. D. Warren Co. supplied the drums and the Catholic Action Organization provided its uniforms. Their spectacular uniforms and snappy marching made them a hit with the spectators.

The 1896 Maine State Register, lists four Westbrook bands under ‘Associations’: American Band, H. S. Babb leader; Westbrook City Band, Jerry T. Tourangeau leader; Tony Clark’s Juvenile Band in Cumberland Mills, Tony Clark leader; and the Cumberland Mills-based Presumpscot Juvenile Band.
The Rotary Boys Band, the American Legion Juvenile Band, and, of course, the Westbrook High School Band are also parts of our music background.  Westbrook also has a glorious history of violin makers. Come into the Society to see more information and photos of Westbrook’s musical history.


band-tcTony Clark Juvenile Band

Bande Salaberry
    References: Music Notebook, Scrapbook Collection  
SDW strike


This great 8X10 photograph was recently donated to the Society by the granddaughter of Harold Summer Winslow, the photo’s original owner.  

It is identified as a picture of  “IPM [International Paper Makers] Strikers of Warren Paper Mills, Westbrook, Maine 1916.”  But one of the most interesting points of the photo is where it was taken… in front of the Brown Block in Cumberland Mills.   In 1916 the block, and the land around it, was owned by the S.D. Warren Co. and, according to the booklet A Presence in the Community, The Warren Family Legacy, it was reputed to be the oldest building in Cumberland Mills. 

In 1876 the S.D. Warren Mill established a library/reading room for its mill employees and their families. This Cumberland Mills Library, as it was then called, was housed in a single room above the Mill Agent’s office.  Because of its popularity and the increasing size of the book collection, the library was moved to the Brown Block , 479 Main Street, in 1908.  When this photograph was taken, there was no sign for the library because it was not opened to the general public until 1929. At that time its name was officially changed to the Warren Memorial Library.

At one time the three story Brown Building housed William and Walter Stevens’ Barber Shop on the 1st floor and the Red Men’s Hall and Saccarappa Grange on the 2nd.  Apartments were on both the 2nd and 3rd floors. A lodge room and storage area occupied part of the 3rd floor.

In 1933 the Warren Memorial Foundation purchased the building and the property for a public library. In the 1940s, due to increased library usage, a growing collection, and limited space, the library foundation undertook a study to improve the facilities.  As a result, the entire building was remodeled; the roof was lowered, eliminating the third story, and the library took over the entire first floor in 1949. 

the the early 2000s the building was lifted and moved back from Main Street, where it sits today.  The Warren Memorial Library has closed, but this building, well over 150 years old, still stands, and now serves as the home of the Northern New England Conference for the Seventh Day Adventists.

  References: A Presence in the Community, The Warren Family Legacy ; Library Collection notebooks, Then & Now Scrapbook.
Also see [this web site]:  People, Place & Events, Cumberland Mills Barber Shops (Stevens); Photo Archives: Paper City Lunch
(See 'Collection' page to view another Saccarappa/Galveston Island home)

menard house
(Photo taken 2017)



[ED: This page usually contains OLD photographs, but this editor feels that the topic of Maine lumber in Texas, bears posting.]

If you ever visit Galveston Island, on the east coast of Texas, be sure to check out the houses made from Westbrook lumber.  (See Activities page for information on the Samuel May Williams house). 

The MENARD HOUSE is located at 1605 33rd Street, Galveston, Texas. Michel B. Menard arrived in Texas in 1829. With Samuel May Williams, he formed the Galveston City Company and helped found the City of Galveston, in 1839. He was also a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and a member of the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

Mr. Menard built his Greek revival-style home in 1838 and it is the oldest, still standing, house in Galveston.  A good part of this house was built with lumber shipped from Saccarappa, Maine.    The original house consisted of the central portion, built with lumber ordered from Maine and brought to Galveston  on ships.  In those days there was a great lack of proper materials, tools and skilled workmen in the area,  so it was more economical to bring lumber from Maine than from the few mills that were at that time in Texas.   Therefore, Menard had the pine lumber and Ionic columns for this house shipped from Maine. 

By 1837, two years before Galveston became incorporated as a city, 1,000 people had settled in Sacarrap (i.e. Galveston, first named Saccarap). As mentioned on the Activities page, the settlement was named after Saccarappa, the place which furnished Galveston with its building supplies and some of its citizens.

Ionic column made of Maine wood


City Hall in the Scates Building, 1960s; Carpenter Street was on the left of building.



Over the years, Westbrook has had many different City offices.

The first official Westbrook City Offices were on the second floor of the Scates Building, built in 1903 and located across from the old Bridge Street exit. The Municipal Court Room was located in the rear of the offices. Westbrook lawyers who served as judges during the years the court was held there, until about 1965, were Judge Tolman, Fabius M. Ray, William Lyons, Frank Pride, Wade Brigham, Armand LeBlanc and Francis Rocheleau.   The Police Station and jail were located behind the Scates Building on Carpenter Street.  [See 'City Offices' on the Photo Archives page.]                                                      

Due to urban renewal in 1967, the City Hall Offices moved to 790 Main Street, on the corner of Spring Street.  The City Council Chambers were in the basement.
city hall main
City Hall, corner of Main and Spring Streets
    In 1995 the City Offices moved to its current location at 1 York Street.  
city hall york

References: WESTBROOK MAYORS: A Brief History of the Village, the Town and the City of Westbrook
(see Gift Shop to order a copy)


Francis A. Cloudman in his touring car



Westbrook 5th Mayor was Francis A. Cloudman. He was born in Westbrook on June 16, 1839, in the so-called old Fitch house which stood on the site of Jordan's Foundry at 907 Main Street.

Mr. Cloudman was married to the former Annie Bodge, who was born in 1843.  Their children were Frank and Andrew Cloudman and Mrs. Felix Barrett.  Their grandson, Francis Harold Cloudman, son of Andrew, lived at Newcomb Place and operated a hardware store in downtown Westbrook. His great grandson, Francis Harold Cloudman, Jr., a graduate of Westbrook High School in 1938 and of West Point in 1943, was killed in an accident in 1945 while serving in Czechoslovakia during World War II.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Cloudman joined the 5th Maine Volunteers and played in the regimental band.  It was in honor of his older brother, Capt. Andrew C. Cloudman, born October 4, 1834, that the Cloudman Post #100 of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Cloudman Relief Corps were formed.  Captain Cloudman enlisted as a private in 1861, served in the First and the Tenth Maine Regiments, and was killed at Cedar Mountain in August 1862.

Mayor Cloudman was elected to serve two years on the City Council, and he was appointed a member of the Committee on Streets.  He played a large part in laying out new streets to accommodate a growing population which stood at 7,000 in 1897.

Francis Cloudman was employed as a millwright and superintendent of the pulp mill by S. D. Warren Co. and worked there for 33 years.  He lived a long and active life and died on April 15, 1926, at the age of 87. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.  He had lived in Westbrook all his life, first on Cumberland Street in his younger years and later at 582 Main Street near the Warren School.

[A footnote to Westbrook history:  The old Westbrook Hospital at 537 Main Street in Cumberland Mills was established by Dr. Felix Barrett, the son-in-law of Mayor Cloudman.  This hospital, commonly referred to as "Dr. Barrett's Hospital", is now an apartment house. Mrs. Barrett was the former Cora I. Cloudman.]

Mayor Cloudman - 1897


Copied from WESTBROOK MAYORS: A Brief History of the Village, the Town and the City of Westbrook
(see Gift Shop to order a copy)


878 Main Street - LaFond & Co., est. 1884



Anyone who grew up in Westbrook during the early to mid 1900s, remembers the LaFond Department Store in the Brackett Block*, on the corner Main and Brackett Streets.  The store had large window displays which tempted everyone to stop, and at least look.

Sifroy Lafond was born in Canada and was educated there.  He worked ten years in small business in Canada, before immigrating to Maine and opening this store in Westbrook.   His son, Hormidas A. LaFond, was born in Westbrook, and was a graduate of Bod Institute in NYC, a  famous window-trimming school….I did mention the great displays at the store, didn’t I?  Hormidas was employed by his father during his school years and became a partner in the business in 1905.  Both men were known for their honest methods and fair dealings.  “Everything reliable and desirable in ‘dry & fancy’ goods, ladies furnishings, etc.”, could be found here. It was described thus: “entire lower floor is  department store, 2nd floor - dresses and hats,  3rd & 4th floors –apartments; 6 employees...  Extensive stock includes dry & fancy goods, linens, hosiery, gloves, corsets, wrappers, & furnishings …sold at moderate prices."

Following the death of Hormidas, the business was run by his son, Leo, until it was closed during urban renewal in the 1970s. 
Beautifully designed and decorated LaFond window displays

References: 1909 Souvenir Trade Magazine, Businesses and Industries Notebooks

- A Glimpse of Westbrook History -

John, Lillian, and Lottie in 1914, at their home at 160 King Street
St. Hyacinthe Church can be seen on the left                    


People often donate photographs, or genealogies, or memorabilia, to their local historical society, but Lillian Kinmond LaChance (1926-2005) did it all.  This isn’t to say that she was/is the only one to do this, but her photographs, along with her family history as related to Westbrook, is of special interest to many.

Her ancestry reflects that of Westbrook’s Scottish immigrants, many brought here to work in the woolen and spinning mills. Some papers give a personal history of the Scotch Hill area, with its housing built by the Westbrook Manufacturing Co. for its workers. The papers relate snippets of their arrivals, (via steerage class), aboard ships from Scotland; their blue-collar jobs in the area: painters, tinsmiths, mill workers; and their many contributions to the City of Westbrook. 

The photographs seen here are of Lillian’s immediate family and their family home at 160 King Street. John Kinmond, Lillian’s father, son of one of the immigrants, was born in North Gorham on September 1, 1883 and attended Westbrook schools. He worked at S.D. Warren mill for 54 years, retiring from the electrical department. He was a member of Temple Lodge, AF & AM; the oldest member of Presumpscot Valley, Knights of Pythias, and the last surviving member of Cleves Rifle Co. of the Maine National Guard. For 31 years he was a member of the Valentine Hose Co., Westbrook Fire Department.  He died April 19, 1974.

His wife, Lillian’s mother, was Lottie Fuller Kinmond from Portland. She was born in 1880 and they were married in Portsmouth, NH in 1909. They lived most of their lives at 160 King Street and the photographs in Lillian’s papers show a history of that house.  Lottie was a member of the local Pythian Sisters. Lottie died in 1957 and she and John, along with other family members, are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Lillian was an active member of the Westbrook Historical Society and had a passion for genealogy.  After her death, the Society received many New England genealogical books from her library.  This page reflexes a small glimpse of her contributions to Westbrook history.


Lottie and John 1914

160 King Street 1945
John Kinmond, WFD, 1934

References: Kinmond Family History, as compiled by Lillian Kinmond LaChance


Mildred Laurensen Pickard, Gordon Griffith, Velma Libby Johnson, Bertha Varnum Pratt, Margaret Graham MacDonald,
William Lamb, Archibald Sabin Parker, Thomas W. Ray, Joshua H. Goodridge, Albert J. Twombly, Clyda Blanchard Chick, Frances Holston Chamard                               


This photograph was taken inside the Westbrook Trust Company on Friday, August 6, 1926, as we can tell by the calendar on the table. Also of note are the bars on the cashiers' stalls, the safe deposit entrance, the ink wells on the table...and the names listed on the back..

This City's oldest bank, Westbrook Trust Company was organized in 1891 under a special charter granted by the State Legislature of 1889. It's purpose was to provide banking service to the people and the businesses of Westbrook. At that time there was no law authorizing the organization of trust companies but, through the efforts of the Honorable Fabius M. Ray, a member of the legislature, the charter was granted. The first officers were: President, Leander Valentine; Vice President, John C. Scates; Treasurer, Russell D. Woodman. Mr. Valentine was the town's most prominent citizen , as its first Mayor in 1891, and a former customs official. Mr. Scates was a local druggist and Mr. Woodman was also a former customs official.

A large modern bank building was built on Main St in 1916 (interior seen in this photo) and  later branches were opened in Cumberland Mills and in Pride's Corner. Until 1928 the bank operated successfully and profitably under local management and ownership. In 1928 the bank and its business were acquired and taken over by Fidelity Trust Company which established a branch in this building. In 1930 a new, larger building was erected next door. The original building was demolished in 1955; it last tenant was Alice St. Pierre's Millinery Shop. When Fidelity Trust liquidated in 1933, Westbrook Trust Company was re-constituted as an active and independent bank under its original charter.

In 1969 Westbrook Trust Co. merged with three other banks to form the Northeastern Bankshare Association.

Original Westbrook Trust, Leander Valentine is 2nd from left
Notice the dentist's trademark (a tooth) hanging overhead.

This 1931 photo shows the original Westbrook Trust Company (small two-story brick building) to the right of the new building. The original bank building had a Dentist on the second floor and, when the bank moved into the new building, the first floor became a Millinery Store. Later the old building was torn down to make way for an expansion and a driveway to the new bank building.

wtc seal
The Westbrook Trust Company Seal closely resembled the Seal of Westbrook

References: 1909 Souvenir Trade Magazine, Highlights Of Westbrook, Businesses and Industries Notebooks


H. Ordway Furbish, Ovide Harvey, Napoleon Gagnon,Clarence Pinkham, Clifton Boutelle, Walter Pratt,
Henry Ingraham, Andrew Arsenault, Arthur Knight             


Since this is an ‘inaugural month’, it might be of interest to look back at some of the people who ran our City in years past. This photograph was taken in 1942 and shows some of the newly-elected leaders of Westbrook. At the time of this picture, the City Council consisted of thirteen aldermen; not all are seen here, but the missing members’ names have been added (*).  The election of 1971 saw the City change to a seven member Council.

Listed left to right:
1. H. Ordway Furbish, who served as Mayor from 1942-1945, during the war years. He was employed as a
supervisor of S.D. Warren’s finishing department.

2. Beside him is Ovide Harvey, a Westbrook native, and a graduate of St. Hyacinth School and the St. Hyacinthe  Seminary in Sherbrook PQ.  He also graduated from Grays Business School, Portland. He became the City Collector and Treasurer and later served as State Racing Commission Auditor.

3. Napolean Gagnon was elected Alderman of Ward 4 (along with John C. Foster*). Mr. Gagnon operated several grocery stores in the area and at one time would served as Tax Assessor.

4. Clarence M. Pinkham served as City Clerk from 1942 – 1944. He graduated from Westbrook High School and married a local girl, Agnes Pratt.

5. Clifton P. Boutelle and  #6, Walter K. Pratt were both Ward 1 Aldermen. Mr. Pratt was a star athelete of Westbrook High School, Class of 1922.

7. Henry W Ingraham was elected Ward 5 Alderman (along with Alfred K. Dolloff*). Ingraham served, at least, two terms

8.  Andrew Arsenault represented Ward 3 (with Robert G. Fortin*). Mr. Arsenault would later retire from S.D. Warren Co., after 39 years of service.  

9.  Arthur L. Knight (with John P. Burke* and Robert B. Littlefield*) were Aldermen-at-Large. They all served at least two terms.

(Trevor F. Finnerty* and Irvin H. Finney* were Ward 2 Aldermen)


The photograph was taken in front of Violette’s Shell Station, 307 Main Street, Cumberland Mills.


References: Westbrook City Reports, Scrapbooks


Main Street 1880
Left side of Main Street, looking west: Charles Waterhouse (Tailor shop) and Cigar Factory (Sacks Bro's’) (in large building),
W.E. McLellan Blacksmith (middle building), Libby's carriage shop


Samuel E. McLellan had a long-standing, family business at 918 Main Street in Westbrook. (See last month’s article about B.G. Pride Co., another Westbrook family business.)   Mr. McLellan was descended from the Gorham McLellans, early settlers and history makers of that town.  He came to Westbrook as a young man and started a successful blacksmith shop, doing horse shoeing, ironing, jobbing and carriage work. 

His sons, Henry and William joined him in the business, William at the age of 17.  After Samuel’s death in 1887, the sons carried on the business, and with the death of Henry in 1892, William was left as sole manager of the shop.

By 1909 the business was known as W.E. McLellan’s Blacksmith Shop, employed two helpers, and was described as having “gained popular favor by giving satisfaction, both in regards to superiority of work and reasonable charges.” 

William Edward McLellan was born in Westbrook and was educated in the public schools. He was known locally as ”Ed”. In an old Trade Journal he was described as a “business man of well-known executive ability and has a thorough knowledge of all that pertains to this line of effort, and is highly esteemed by the community…He is a practical, experienced man, and at all times doing conscientious work.”    He was a member of the Masons, Red Men, and Knights. of Pythias.

The shop was located at 918 Main St, at the West End of Saccarappa, as downtown Westbrook was called in those days.  He did all kinds of general blacksmithing and horse shoeing. Some of the best family and trotting horses were shod at his shop.

The business continued its success until the advent of the automobile made horse shoeing secondary.  Mr. McLellan finally closed his shop and moved to Gorham where he died. All three men are buried in Saccarappa Cemetery.


mcclellan blacksmith

    This beautiful old photograph, from the Walker Memorial Library Collection, shows the alley and backside of W.E.McLellan Blacksmith Shop. Looking across Main Street you can see the Presumpscot power station and the old Universalist Church building which was demolished in the early 2000s to make way for a new building holding apartments and retail shops.  

McLellan Blacksmith Shop was in the area that is occupied, in 2016, by Presumpscot Place, next to Friendly Discount Store,

References: 1909 Trade Magazine, Fabius Ray's History of Westbrook, Highlights of Westbrook History



At the turn of the 20th Century, Byron G. Pride had a prosperous business in Westbrook, dealing in fuel and ice.  A native of Westbrook, Mr. Pride graduated from Westbrook schools and the Westbrook Seminary (Westbrook College or University of NE) on Stephens Avenue. He worked a few years for S.D. Warren Co. before starting his own business in 1885. He started the business with one cart and “Old Black Charley”, his long-lived horse (he died at age twenty-seven) who pulled it. From this meager start, he developed a profitable business selling coal, wood, and ice, that eventually required eleven teams and a large work force.

Mr. Pride was known for his fair business dealings and for selling the best grades of anthracite and bituminous coal, superior hard and soft wood of all kinds, Sebago and Presumpscot ice*, all at the lowest market prices. 

B.G. Pride Co. became a true father-son, or family, business when Merritt G. Pride succeeded his father as head of the business and his son, Byron G., joined the business in 1946. B.G.Pride Co. had offices at 547 and 922 Main Street and continued into the 1960s.

1947 newspaper photograph: " Merritt G. Pride, left, who succeeded his father as head of B.G. Pride Company of Westbrook, coal, oil, and equipment dealers, founded 70 years ago. Representing the third generation in the business is M.G. Pride's son, Byron G., right, who joined the concern early last year...The present head of the company looks back on 40 years of active service at the same location selected by the founder, whose photograph hangs on the wall,in post Civil War days."

*harvesting ice from local lakes was a profitable occupation before the advent of electric refrigerators.

References: Illustrated Souvenir Trade Magazine1909, Westbrook Businesses & Industries Notebook, Discover Maine magazine



This beautiful old photo shows an unpaved Main Street in 1899, a fun-looking July 4th parade, and best of all, it gives a history of Westbrook’s 19th century businesses.  The photograph was probably taken from the second floor, or roof, of the Vallee building before a fire leveled the building to a one-story building that we see today.

In the right forefront is the Edwards Block, holding the Edward’s Dry Goods (on the ground floor) and the Haskell Silk Mill offices on the second floor.  This building still stands on the corner of ‘old’ Bridge Street; it would later house Warren Furniture, and in 2006, become the home of Portland Pie Co.
On left side of Main Street, the first building holds the West End Drug Store; the Scates & Co. Drugs and J.C. Cross Fruits & Confectioners are in the next building.  The next two buildings (at 883 – 888 Main Street) were owned by C.P. Paine.  The property was acquired by Paine in 1869, and were believed to be the oldest buildings in the Vallee Square business district.  Louis Kourapis purchased this property in 1946, tore down the two buildings, and  constructed a one story brick building on the corner of Central Street, to house his store.   The tall building, seen next, is the I.O.O.F. building which housed the Brook Theater on the 2nd floor and a ‘Green Front’ (State Liquor) Store on ground level, in the 60s.  In 1912 the Star Theater was built on the lot between the I.O.O.F. block and Central Street.   Both buildings were razed in the early 1970s for urban renewal.


knowlton machine
Knowlton Machine Co., Dana Street


In 1864, John J. Knowlton arrived in Westbrook , or Saccarappa as it was then called, at the request of James Haskell.  Mr. Haskell wanted Knowlton to take charge of the repairs in the cotton mill where he was agent.   Thus began 125 years of Westbrook business history.
J.J.  Knowlton had been a general mechanic before coming to Maine from Gloucester, MA.  Mr. Knowlton, his brother Daniel, and brother-in-law Maurice Hodgkins, set up a small shop which they named Knowlton Bros. and the business quickly prospered.  By 1873 they erected a two-story brick building further up the river from the original shop, where the company’s  power was provided by a water wheel from the lower dam.

In 1882 the company advertised gear cutting and all kinds of mills work.  It is estimated that 9 employees made up the Knowlton Bros. staff  at that time, and the average pay was $8 to $10 per week. In 1888 J.J. Knowlton bought out his partners, and with his son John D., ran the business until his death in 1912.  John D. became President and remained so until his death in 1941.  John’s brother George, and George’s son Ralph, were also members of the firm.

Between 1890 and 1910 the company built water wheels and boring mills, also acetylene generators and stereopticon lanterns (the forerunner of the slide projector).  The shop became known for its metalizing, parts fabrication, hard facing, grinding and other services which required specialized equipment.  Knowlton Machine became internationally known for its looms that produced the plush seats of Pullman cars and automobiles. They also produced Konseal machines, which allowed pharmacists to encapsulate powdered medicines. This so improved the dispensing of medications that the machines were soon used in almost all drug stores .

During WW II the company was involved in the manufacturing of parts for ships and shipyards, machine tool parts, and 50-caliber bullet machine parts. They provided many contractors with gears, sprockets, special tools, and general machine work needed to maintain the plants.  Knowlton Machine Company  became one of the largest manufacturers of commercial industrial gears  in the State of Maine. 

The company continues to this day, but in 1989 they moved from Westbrook to Gorham. It is no longer run by the Knowltons and is now known as Marca Coating Technologies.

**As an aside, George Knowlton, son of John J., is credited with bringing the first motor car to Westbrook.

An old glass slide shows the interior of Knowlton Machine
Photo of Knowlton employees; you can see the gears on ground

For more information about this company, join us at our November meeting when Ken Moody will present a program on the Knowlton Machine Company. [See our Programs Page for more information.]

REFERENCES: Businesses  & Industries Notebook, Scrapbook Collection, Highlight of Westbrook History, photo of building by Mike Sanphy, other photos from Westbrook Historical Society's Collection

333 Spring Street
333 Spring Street, circa 1920
(William Clarke in baby carriage)


The house at 333 Spring Street was built in 1910 by William Bragdon. In 1919, speaking before a group of  supporters who had paraded up Spring Street to the house, the newly elected Mayor Bragdon made his mayoral acceptance speech from this front porch.

William B. Bragdon 1868 - 1965

Mayor Bragdon was born in Windham.  He was employed for 50 years in the papermaking, mechanical and electrical departments of the S. D. Warren Co.  He became General Manager of the Presumpscot Electric Company which was absorbed as part of the electrical department of the mill.  His first stroke of work in the electrical department was installing the first telephone in the plant in 1886.  As early as 1887, Mr. Bragdon installed the first incandescent lights in the mill. 
As an aspiring politician, W. B. Bragdon ran for a seat in the State Legislature and won his first victory. During his term there he was able to play a part in the passing of the so-called Blue Laws.  When he was elected Mayor of Westbrook in 1918 he defeated the incumbent, Mr. 0. G. K. Robinson, who had been a favorite with the voters, having been elected seven times.  Mayor Bragdon served a one year term as Westbrook mayor.


333 Spring Street, circa 2015

William Scribner and his daughter and son-in-law, Millie and Lee Clarke, bought the house in 1920 and moved in when the Clarke's son William was only a few months old.  The family named the house and land Blue Spruce Farm.  The farm remained in the Clarke family until 2014.  Long term City Clerk, William Clark (see People, Places, Events page for more information on Mr. Clarke) ran the Blue Spruce Farm Dairy from this location for many years. The house and lands were sold in 2015 and today are the site of the Blue Spruce Farm Housing and Apartment Complex.

clark 9 333 spring
333 Spring Street at start of construction in 2015 ..................................333 Spring Street in 2016.
(the main house can be seen on the right of both photos)

...References: WESTBROOK MAYORS book, Tom Clarke (son of Wm. Clarke) who supplied some of the photos



Westbrook has always been known for its music, from our great fiddle makers to our marching bands.  However, when looking at this photograph in the Westbrook Historical Society collection, one must wonder what this was all about!!  Was it a skit, a party, or just a group of wild and crazy people!! 

An Internet search for 'O.M.H.A.' turned up 'Ontario Minor Hockey Team'. Maybe this photograph belonged to one of Westbrook’s Canadian citizens?  Along with music, hockey also had a great history in our City. As told by the person who donated the following photos,Westbrook used to have its own hockey rink and if the second picture is any indication, the games were VERY well attended!

Some of the old photographs in our collection certainly make for interesting stories and suppositions!!

The Canadian Club (semi-pro) Hockey Team, Westbrook
[Gerard Francoeur is 3rd from left, back row. He later became team coach, and was the last coach to take the team to Boston]
A game at the rink behind Brown Street School and the Barton house.
...Visit the Historical Society to see our collection of Westbrook sports figures and teams. The two hockey pictures were donated by Gene Francoeur of Westbrook, son of Gerard Francoeur.


With all the construction and changes going on in downtown Westbrook in 2016, it might be good for us to take a look at the past.. This is a photo looking down Bridge Street from Main. It shows the business area of Saccarappa in the 1800s. You can see the bridge in the background, as well as the old Bean House (with the two big chimneys; the building is now long gone) across the river. The Bean House sat across from the Dana Warp Mills. Stores lined this area of Westbrook.

    This photo was taken from the Dana Mills side of the river,looking toward Main Street. Today this bridge is replaced by a foot-bridge over the river, and a new bridge to the right of this photo will change the downtown traffic flow from Bridge and Brown Streets..  

And a third look at the same area in the 1950s. Stultz Electric is the red building on the right. The building was torn down and replaced by the parking garage.

This area now has a totally new look, with the upper end of Bridge Street cut off to make a pedestrian-friendly shopping area. Change is good....but memories should be preserved!


George Watson............ ?.............Cleve M. Gurney


The Society recently received a scrapbook which contained the picture seen above. It was labeled "Store at the corner of Rochester and Seavey Street....Cleve Gurney had a great family neighborhood grocery store for many years."

When we researched the store, we found a reference to it being located at 6 Pine Street. Pine Street is the short street running between Rochester and Haskell Streets, and at the end of Seavey Street. Gurney & Higgins Market is listed in the 1950 and 1953 Westbrook City Directory; in 1957 there is a Kittridge Market listed at 6 Pine Street. Let us know if you can provide more information about this store.

    NOTE: Visit us to learn more about old Westbrook businesses.  

1906 - 1973


“One spring day in 1925, the city of Westbrook closed for a baseball game. The paper mill shut down, signs on shuttered storefronts read, “Closed. Gone to the ball game.” The game was at Warren League Field between Catholic High School (now Cheverus) and Westbrook High. The pitchers were Husky Aube (a Westbrook boy) for Cheverus and Gene Hebert for Westbrook.  Local fan were upset that Husky was playing for the opponent that they picketed his house.  The outcome was a win for Westbrook and Aube returned to WHS for his senior year.

Homidas Joseph Aube, know by nickname Husky, was the youngest in a family of nine. He became a legend in Westbrook as a baseball player and as the city’s long-time chief of police. He was a graduate of Westbrook High (1927) and from Fordham University in NY where he made the college national all-star team in 1930.

In 1931, a local newspaper headline “Husky” Aube, Westbrook and Fordham Pitcher, signed by N.Y. Yankees”. Westbrook very own Yankee!!

Aube spent 4 years with the Yankee organization but an auto accident injury probably undermined a lengthy career. In 1934 he threw a no-hitter for a Yankee farm team, Binghamton, but the Yankees had other crack pitchers that year, Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez, so he was not able to break into their rotation.  Aube roomed with Cy Perkins, and later Lefty Gomez. To Babe Ruth, Aube was “The Kid’”. In later years Aube would tell his family many funny stories of Ruth. 

Husky returned to Westbrook after 1934 season and began a long career in Westbrook police work. He joined the WPD in 1935 and served as its Chief for 15 years, serving under three different Mayors. Following retirement in 1961, he worked as a security guard at Weyerhaeuser Co. and S.D. Warren until he retired two months before his death in 1973. One year later he was inducted into Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Husky still remains a hero in the minds of many Westbrook residents.


Husky in his Yankee uniform

Westbrook Police Department 1954, Chief Aube
    References: News clippings, scrapbooks, History of Westbrook Police Department by S. Lyons  

Warren League Grounds, 1925


This is a photo taken at the Warren League Ground, later named Fraser Field, on Stevens Avenue. The ball field is still in use but the home plate seen here, is today's right field and the bandstand is long gone.The grandstand had showers and locker rooms and backed up to the railroad tracks; railroad cars are visible in the background. Crowds of 1,000 often attended games and, as you'll read in an upcoming article, businesses sometimes closed for games..

This photo shows Mayor Eugene Cummings presenting honors to Harry Stanford, captain of the Westbrook High School 1925 baseball team which had won the Telegram League Championship.

Baseball, the great American sport, has always been popular in Westbrook, with churches, schools, businesses and neighborhoods supporting the teams. Below are photos of a couple of Westbrook teams.


BB2a Irish Hill team. [Irish Hill is the section of Westbrook from Saco Street to Spring Street...up on the hill.]

Shop team 1914, S.D. Warren Co.




Yes, I know that you people who are in the north, have probably seen about all the snow you want to by now...but the Society has so many great photos of snow falls of old! [The operative words are: 'of old'!] The children seen above, are probably feeling extra special because they have a closed-in sleigh in which to ride to school...not the open school barge that is seen in our Photo Archives. It looks really cosy in this contraption!

Below are a few pictures of snow that we hope not to replicate any time soon!


NRA, S.D. Warren 1933


“NRA, S. D. Warren Women” is the writing on the back of this photograph. There is also a handwritten note beside the photo saying: "Parade 1933, all abled workers, men & women, had to march in parade with I.D. caps & banners of where they worked..."  To some  “younger” people who notice this picture, their first thought may be of the National Riflemen’s Association … WRONG!!!

This is a picture of S.D. Warren workers, women, marching in a parade in front of Riverbank Park (note the rock monument in the Park, on the left of the photo).    Although we don't know the exact date or occasions when this was taken - it may have been at a Labor Day Parade,(which would have been fitting) - the people certainly are expressing their support of  President Roosevelt’s
National (Industrial) Recovery Act.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated in March 1933, one quarter of the nation’s work force was out of work. This was in the midst of the Great Depression, and even those fortunate enough to have jobs worked under unfavorable conditions. Overproduction in the 1920’s led to inflation, and in 1929 the Wall Street Crash flattened the United States’ economy. This infamous catastrophe resulted in a level of production in 1933 significantly less than what it had been just four years earlier.

The National (Industrial) Recovery Act of 1933 (NRA) was one of the most important and daring measures of the President’s New Deal.  It was the centerpiece of his initial efforts to reverse the economic collapse of the Great Depression. That New Deal law was designed to promote recovery and reform, encourage collective bargaining for unions, set up maximum work hours (and sometimes prices) and minimum wages, and forbid child labor in industry. NRA was signed into law on June 16, 1933, and was to remain in effect for two years. It attempted to make structural changes in the industrial sector of the economy and to alleviate unemployment with a public works program. Under the supervision of the NRA, several hundred industry codes were rapidly enacted, but public support soon diminished. The codes tended to increase efficiency and employment, improve wages and hours, prevent price cutting and unfair competition, and encourage collective bargaining. However, they also tended to raise prices and limit production. Businesses found the codes burdensome. It succeeded only partially in accomplishing its goals, and on May 27, 1935, less than three weeks before the act would have expired, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

Even knowing the dissatisfaction to come, we can understand why these people were happy to be marching.

So beware that NRA stands for different things to different Americans !


An NRA Poster

Same banner as seen in photograph



Westbrook's Presumpscot River


The Westbrook Centennial booklet (1914), states: "Westbrook is favored with rivers & streams. The Presumpscot is the principal river and source of the establishment and continued permanence of the great industries of Westbrook,. This remarkable river never fails in the most severe drought and the two falls art Saccarappa and the one at Ammoncongin have been in continuous operation in mill products for about 175 years.”

100 years later this statement still rings true; not only is the river a source for industry but it is also a place of recreation. The river itself is 25.8 miles long, running from the main outlet of Sebago Lake and through the communities of Standish, Windham, Gorham, Westbrook, Portland, and Falmouth where it emptys into Casco Bay. 


Presumupskeg, [many variations of the spelling can be found in ancient documents] meaning “many rough places”, is the name the Aucocisco Indians gave the Presumpscot River. They called the two sets of falls along the river, Amoncogin, “high fishing places” and Saccarappa, “falling towards the rising sun”. The Aucociscos were proud of the river, not only because of its majestic beauty and pure water, but also because they depended on it for their livelihood, fishing and planting. With the arrival of early settlers in the 1700s, villages and businesses sprang up at each of the falls because of the energy it provided for the running of grist, saw, and paper mills.


As a result of the mills, three small villages sprang up at Saccarappa and Amoncongin and at Pride's corner where stages coaches traveled to New Hampshire. [See the Neighborhoods section on Collections page, to learn more of thes villages.]


The beautiful Presumpscot runs through the middle of our city and is spanned by three bridges: one at Saccarappa Village (Main and Bridge St. in downtown Westbrook), one at Ammoncongin (Cumberland Mills at Cumberland Street), and one at Pride’s Corner (U.S. Rte 302).   Three bridges, three settlements, one river and now, one city.

Bridge Street bridge
Bridge Street bridge construction
Cumberland Street bridge 1883, looking from Mill
Cumberland Street bridge, taken from ball field area
Pride's Corner bridge before it was washed out in flood,1896 Building on right is the Corn Shop
[from History of Pride's Corner by J.R. Lewis
Pride's Corner bridge, 2015
See Newsletters, Winter 2012 for more information on our bridges.



Photographs are often given to the Society because no one wants to throw them away and family members do not know who the people are, what the event was, or what to do with them! That is how we happen to have this unmarked picture in our collection. WHAT EVER WERE THEY DOING?! It's a professionally taken photograph, not a snapshot. Oh, the stories we can imagine!

In the past, Westbrook often held community events...could this 'family' have been participating? Or maybe they were moving away, too poor to hire a professional moving company so the family dog, with his straw-hat, is used to haul the family's possessions! Opps, the spinning wheel won't fit! But the family is all dressed up in their finest, which would lead to doubts of them not being able to hire a van.

Do you have a copy of this picture or know the history behind it? If so, contact the Society.




Brown Street in French Town


In July of 1976, Percy Conant and his daughter, Eleanor Conant Saunders, made a list of puzzlers for those who attended the dedication of Bicentennial Park, next to Hannafords Market on William Clarke Drive. The dedication program asked, 'Can you recall and identify the locations on the following list?'
A few years ago we asked Eleanor to help clarify, for future Westbrook generations, the locations of these long-lost neighborhoods and historical landmarks. They are as follows:


4 Corners - (1) Bridge & Cumberland Streets; (2) Spring & County Road
Little Canada - North Street, area of St. Hyacinth School
Hottentot- old name for Cottage Place
The Flats- lower Main Street, from City Hall to Riverside Street
Cellar Field - sunken field bordered by Conant, New Gorham & Saco Street
Scotch Hill- Bridge, Walker, Pike & Webb Streets
Irish Hill- from Saco to Spring Street; the hill area
Dagger Town- Polish neighborhood: Falmouth & George Streets
French Town - Brown Street, from Bridge to Cumberland Streets
"Pork" Hill- old name for what's now Park Hill; [this was a corruption of the name 'Park Hill' because the English garrison was situated there and the English ate a lot of pork, whereas the locals ate more beef
Lost Nation - area off to the left side of Longfellow Street (after 108 Longfellow) that was not passable in mud season
Duck Pond -US Rte. 302, Highland Lake region
Saccarappa - original name of village at west end of Westbrook
Pride's Corner-Rte 302 from Presumpscot River to comer of Brook & Bridgton Road (actual corner)
The Village - Saccarappa Center
Ammon Congin - old name for Cumberland Mills; original name of village at east end of Westbrook
Cumberland Mills - area near Sappi (SD Warren Paper Mill); old village at east end of Westbrook
Bird Land - development off County Road near Spring Street: Oriole, Cardinal, Finch, etc. Streets
Brickyard- Hawke's Brickyard, Hawkes Street (where Hannafords is now)
1 st Spring- on Spring Street (area of golf course)
2nd Spring - on Spring Street (area of golf course)
Old Car barns- (1) on Conant Street where bike shop is (2) at corner of Main & Saco Streets
Centerville- Riverbank Park; this was the division between Saccarappa & Ammoncongin
The "Star" - movie theater on Main Street & corner of Central Street (where Hub Furniture is)
Underground Railroad - Brackett House, later Lafond's Store corner Main & Brackett Street
The Sakokis- a river steam boat that went from Saccarappa Falls to Windham [another boat was
named The Washington)
1 st Saw Mill - Conant Mill on Pork Hill
Rialto - theater on Main Street, beside Star Theater; was on 2nd floor, later the Brook Theater
Coconut Beach - east side of the river upriver, up above the fall [the Danas had a cottage there]
Presumpscot - the river that divides the town; also the Presumpscot House, downtown Main Street
Site of Corn Shop - on the riverbank in Cumberland Mills, where the swimming pool is now
De clintons - local Hockey Team
Roosevelt Trail- US Rte 302, name used only on the Windham end now
King's Cove- Lincoln St, now skating rink; formed when Mr. King filled in the area on which to build
a house on his farm [Haskell bought land from Mr. King in order to build his Silk Mill]
Lamb's Hill- off Main Street as you enter the city; now called Deer Hill; the hilly area behind City Hall
The Island (2) - (1) foot of Ash Street .. Indians lived there; when people fell in the river, their bodies
washed up there (2) off the river bank below Fredette House
King's Orchard - Lovers' Lane: Chestnut to Lincoln Streets
Bean House - 3-story mansion built-by Joshua Webb, later converted into an apartment house by
Woodbury' Dana; torn down in 1970s; was on Bridge Street near Brown Street. [remembered for
its circular stairway & skylight J
North School- originally at corner of Bridge & Pierce Streets; moved closer to S.D. Warren Mill & made into a private home in later years
Christian Hill - Bridge St in area of old Bridge Street School; house at 146 Bridge Street was hauled from
King's orchard and used as the meeting house                                            .
Berris Pond - beyond Bermside (large white home on right side of New Gorham Road)
Bermside- Wise House, on New Gorham Road, beside the tow path
Danish Neighborhood- Haskell Street, Libby & Boothby Avenue


To add a few more modem terms that may be lost to the younger generations:
Crusaders - local youth Hockey Team
Silk Mill - Haskell Silk Mill on Lincoln Street, now condos
Poor Farm - on Saco Street at top of hill; now site of Public Works garage
Holy Ground - tenement house with a bad reputation; now Shell station on Main Street, across from
The Canal - The Cumberland & Oxford Canal; from Stroudwater, through Beaver Pond, beside
Bermside, to Conant Street, to the river
Grist Mill - on Pork Hill; only one north of Kittery
Colonial Acres_- DiBiase development (1960s) off E. Bridge Street: Colonial, Puritan, Mayflower Sts.,etc
The "Mill" - S.D. Warren, now Sappi, Paper Mill
Halidon, Tax Free Colony - homes on lower end of Halidon Road
Saunders - Saunders' Dowel Factory of I Forest Street, on left just beyond the railroad tracks
The Black Bridge - RR bridge across the river up river from the Elms; has a foot walk across the river
"Tit- ile" - petit ile, "little island" (in French); the island behind St Hyacinth Church used for skating

CMPC playground
Cumberland Mills ....................................................Pride's Corner playground



Caleb Bradley
1771 - 1861

The Stroudwater Parish, comprised of the area that is now Westbrook  and the Deering section of Portland, was created In 1764.   The 1st church of the parish was built around 1767 at the corner of Capisic Street and Stevens Avenue.  The Rev. Caleb Bradley, a 1795 graduate of Harvard, was ordained as pastor of the church in October of 1799, and held that post until 1829. During those years he married 550 couples* and officiated in 1400 funerals, not receiving a fee for one of these until he was 76, so reported one article.
Most local references to the Rev. Bradley state that he was a beloved figure in the area, often walking many miles to administer to his flock.  However, this writer was unable to find many personal references to his life.  He was married three times, if the research is correct; he was married to Susanna Smith, a daughter of Capt. John Smith of Staughton, MA, secondly to “the widow Partridge”, and also to Abigail Loring Codman, widow of Capt. Codman of Gorham.  Rev. Bradley, or Father Bradley, as he was called, lived in Bradley’s Corner in Stroudwater.

He was described in one reference as “a man of pronounced individuality”. Curious as to what this comment meant, further digging produced the following personal information about the Reverend, in a reference about Nathaniel Hawthorne:

In Dec 1818, Nathaniel Hawthorne was sent to Reverend Caleb Bradley's school in Stroudwater, near Portland. Stroudwater was a rural crossroads with tanbark-paved streets; its houses sat high above the Fore and Stroudwater rivers. The article goes on to say that “Nathaniel's teacher, Reverend Bradley, was an unpleasant person--his autobiographical sketch reveals his stinginess. Although it was customary for a minister to repay the marriage fee to the first couple he married, Reverend Bradley "held fast" to what had been given to him refusing to honor the custom. He complained of his work--"the ministerial duties were many, and well might I exclaim, 'who is sufficient for these things'. He complained of insufficient compensation for his military services and of modern-day Sabbath schools, and, after he wed his second wife, the Widow Partridge, he joked, "I married this old Partridge myself."  The author of the article deduced that “Nathaniel did not enjoy his time at Reverend Bradley's but he may have felt satisfied later when he could use story material from his stay at Stroudwater. He immortalized the stinginess of the household by describing the cold parlor, around whose tan-bark fire the minister's family sat in the darkness in "A Vision of the Fountain," a story about a boy who is boarding with a minister's family.”

Well, will the "real" Parson Bradley, please stand up!

*A copy of Rev. Bradley's "Marriage records of 1799 – 1891", which lists marriages performed by him, can be found at the Historical Society.




Arhur .. Fred
Harry .. Charles .. William
Sons of Joshua Saunders

Last month's photo was devoted to the Saunders Bros. Dowel Mill of Cumberland Mills [See Photo Archives]. It included a picture of the principal owners of the mill, Harry and Arthur, and their sons.

While going through a box of photographs recently donated to the Historical Society, we came across this beautiful old photograph of the SAUNDERS BROTHERS. On the back is written:

"After Frank died, they had this picture taken about 1929 on a trip when Will Chadbourne accompanied them."

How wonderful that this photograph was preserved and that the date and names was included. Many of the other pictures in the box were unlabeled.


         “Small Birch Dowels is a Specialty”


Photo by Mike Sanphy

The Saunders Brothers Dowel Mill was a fixture in Westbrook from 1917 to 2002.  Many may not remember seeing it, since it was hidden in cul-de-sac off Forest Street, beside the railroad.  The following history of the Saunders’ mill is taken from two articles written by founder, Harry Saunders, and were written by him for presentation at a Decemvir Club meeting [see Photo Archives for more about this organization]

Joshua Saunders, father of the founders of Saunders Brothers Company, made his living in the Oxford Hills area, by lumbering, farming & coopering (making staves fitted for barrels). He also made dowels, since it was the only way he could find to use the white birch which grew on his timber lots. His first venture into producing dowels was in 1880 and one of his first markets was through Eben Fox, father of N.T. Fox, located in Lovell.  Joshua had six sons, William, Charles, Fred, Frank, Harry and Arthur. Fred, Frank, Harry and Arthur all followed in Joshua’s footsteps to some extent. Harry was born in 1871 and by the time he married in 1893, the family owned a small mill in Waterford, but had discontinued dowel making.


Harry started cutting timber with Fred and they began to cut and turn the oak and ash wood into dowels; they did not use birch at this time. The work was hard and the hours long, but the results was all profit…if you didn’t take into account their labor!  Company papers record that The Saunders Brothers firm was started on January 1, 1900, and was probably the business operated by Fred and Harry.

Arthur and Frank, meantime, were also working in the lumbering line.  In 1904 all four brothers decided to join up and start a business in Bingham, where they heard there was a large amount of white birch.  By this time they had a contract with L.L. Mason (later Mason Mfg. Co.) in South Paris. L.L. Mason’s Headquarters were in Portland and they were then the largest exporter of dowels in the country. When the business at Bingham ended, the brothers decided to go different ways; Fred and Frank went into a new line of work in another state and Arthur and Harry made plans to make dowels elsewhere.  They bought a mill in Bridgton and developed a good business, even branching out into Vermont where there were huge stands of birch.  

By now it was 1917, the country had entered into the ‘great war’, and they had no trouble selling their product.  But the brothers missed Maine, so they sold out their Vermont business and moved the business to Westbrook.  “Why we picked this particular place, I don’t exactly know except it was located at the intersection of 2 good railroad and not being far to a water port in Portland”, wrote Harry.  The business did well here and saw a healthy growth. By 1937 (when Harry’s article was written) it was still a small company, dowel concerns never get very large, but it employed 100 men and women and used 4,000 cords of birch yearly.

Harry and Arthur remainded the principles of Saunders Brother until their deaths, one in 1949, the other in 1950. The Saunders Brother continued to be run by Saunders family members up until the time it moved out of Westbrook in 2002.


Dowel Making (as described by Harry W. Saunders)... “a dowel is a piece of wood turned round and from a few inches in length to several feet. The diameters are from 1/8” to 1”, and sometimes larger. We make mostly small dowels from 3/16” to 1/15” and our way is to saw the birch into thin boards or slats. These slats are then fed through a sort of double surface molding matching which makes several dowels at once. Use of dowels is too numerous to tell, some are used in the making of furniture, some in toy making and a great many are returned into other articles.”  In later years there was increased usage for dowels: “We make many carloads of umbrella shanks…penholder blanks, arrows, small dowels for games… glue pins for making of furniture, to say nothing of the lowly lollypop stick which we ship in lots of some twenty-five million sticks."

SAUNDERS. ” saunders
........Saunders Brothers Feb 9, 1948 .......................................Dowel game sold by Saunders Brothers
......Sitting: Arthur L. and Harry W.
..........back: Donald K.,son of Arthur,
Hugh C., H. Warren and Robert, sons of Harry W.

    References: Business Notebooks: Saunders' Mill , Eleanor Conant Saunders' Collection notebook: Saunders Bros. containing articles written by Harry Saunders, Donald Saunders' genalogy writings  



post office
Westbrook Post Office, Bracket Street (1936 - 1978), now Ocean Communities Federal Credit Union


If you are new to Westbrook, you may recognize the name Ocean Communities Federal Credit Union, which sits just off William Clarke Drive, near CVS, but did you know it was once our post office?

Mail service was established in Saccarappa (old name for down-town Westbrook) in 1797, when the town was still part of Falmouth, and the post office retained that name until 1891 when it became the post office of Westbrook.. Over the years, the post office was housed in various stores on Bridge and Main Streets before moving into the new Scates Building in 1903. The Scates building also housed City Hall at that time . [The Scates Building, on Main Street at the head of Bridge Street, was torn down during Urban Renewal in the 1970s.]

When the post office on Brackett Street was built in 1938, the building was the first to be built by the Federal government in Westbrook, and was Westbrook’s first post office building. As was typical of the times, the exterior was very art deco….something that gets forgotten until brought to mind by a simple request for information on the building’s cornerstone!   Over time, one forgets how beautifully constructed our buildings of yesterday much craftsmanship went into their outside facades. Luckily, one request to the SocietyS made me stop and take a close look at this wonderful work of art.

    PO2 PO3  

Look at the detailed work on the outside of the building, and the work in the cornerstone which gives so much information.  With mail services declining because of the Internet, it is good that these beautiful old buildings are being maintained and rehabed for new uses.

    Visit the Historical Society to read more about Westbrook's post offices and postal services and to learn what happened to the Waldo Pierce mural that once hung inside.  

Editor's Note (2020): See 'People, Places and Events' page for infomation on this group




It is always nice to discover information about Westbrook organizations We recently received this photo, along with 2 posters and a copy of the By-laws for the PLATINUM KNIGHTS of Westbrook, Maine. 

The By-laws state that the objective of this organization was “to promote safety on the highway and to create interest in various types of Hot Rod activities, and create an attitude of good sportsmanship and good citizenship among those members so dedicated to safety.”  Their headquarters was at 430 Bridge Street. 

It is our understanding that this group met in the early 1960s. If you were a member, or know anything about the group, please contact the Society at








school house 2
Construction of the first Westbrook High School house - 1958


Carl B. Jensen, Director of Vocational Education at WHS in the 1950s, believed that the most beneficial vocational education course - one which would both educate its students and be of service to the community - should train students in subjects directly connected with practical, everyday thinking.  This training should immediately pay off for the students as they enter into the business world, and also be of tangible value to the community where the students live.

In 1957, with the support of Galen I. Veayo, Superintendent of Schools, Jensen proposed a project that would entail the building of a house - from start to finish - by high school students aged 16 to 19 years of age.   Local citizens became enthusiastic about this ‘pilot’ project ...a project never before undertaken in any U.S. school.   The Westbrook Rotary kicked off the project by donating a lot of land on which 20 boys would build a house.  With no financial support forthcoming from the school budget, Jensen secured supplies, services, and financial aid from more than 20 local firms.   More than 25 additional businesses contributed publicity, advisory and instructional aide. Local architects, plumbers, electricians and heating engineers volunteered to assist with supervision and instruction. High school students in the Home Economics course reviewed decoration schemes and those in the Business courses recorded construction costs. The quality of construction on this first home on Libby Avenue was high …if mistakes were made, they were torn out and redone, under the watchful eye of job instructor Carl Robinson. 

The Open House for the 1st student-built home was in June, 1958 and the subsequent sale of the house kicked off a very successful  program which continues to this day.  Each year, the profit from the sale of the house goes to support next year’s project.  

Thanks to Mr. Jensen’s vision, close to 50 Westbrook houses has been constructed and sold since 1958.  WHS Vocational school students also constructed the Home and Family Living Center at the high school (1973 – 1978) and portable classrooms in 1988.  Students and community continue to benefit from this project.   




school house 1school house5

Ground breaking for 1st school-built home: _____________, Galen Veayo, Superintendent of Schools; Elmer Currier, Mayor; Phil Stultz, of Stultz Electric Co.; District Governor of Rotary Club, Walter Hall; Russell Morse, former School Committee chairman
The completed house  

NOTE: Past Society President Betty Morabito, with the help of members of the Westbrook Rotary Club, compiled a scrapbook with articles and photos documenting the early 'school-houses' history. It may be seen at the Society, 'School Collection'. Below is a partial list, compiled by Betty and the Rotarians, of houses built by Westbrook High School students. If you know of any additions or errors, please contact the Historical Society.


Westbrook-Gorham Rotary House Project

1958  42 Libby Avenue  1st house        
1959  43 Libby Avenue                                      
1960  124 Lamb Street
1961   149 Lamb Street              
1962   269 Forest Street                                          
1963   199 Fores Street                                            
1964   61 Lamb Street                              
1965   39 Clifford Street
1966   28 Deer Hill Circle
1967   9 Roy Avenue
1968   14 Roy Avenue
1969   20 Roy Avenue
1970   22 Roy Avenue
1971  180 Marrett Street
1972  16 Deer Hill Circle
  1973  through 1978 -Home & Family Living Center
1978  modular, built on slab at WHS
1979  547 Bridge Street
1980  Ross Road, Old Orchard Beach
1981  modular house, moved to Gorham
1982  unfinished house, sold ‘as is’

  1983  Superintendent’s office, Main Street
1984  Holmes Avenue, Portland
1985  568 Methodist Road.
1986  65 Pride Street
1987  Land of Nod Road, Windham
 1988  portable classrooms
1989  ranch house, moved to Gorham
1990  Burnham Road, Scarborough
1991  12 Village Lane
1992  Saco Street
1993  Central Streett
1994  West Pleasant Street
1995  156 Marrett Street
1996  146 Marrett Street
1997  Huntress Avenue. 
1998  Rte 302, near Methodist Road
1999  Stroudwater Street
2000  Stroudwater Street
2001  Stroudwater Street







Around 1895 Mr. S.D. Warren, whose father established the S.D. Warren Co., provide the means and
equipment for a manual training school to be held in the Warren School on Main Street. The training school was fashioned on the Swedish Sloyd System. The purpose of the Sloyd system was to make boys and girls skillful, both in the use of their hands and in the application of theories and principles. Both boys and girls were instructed on carpentry ad mechanics.  Along with regular school classes, the intermediate grade students spent two hours per week at the Sloyd school learning mathematical rules and applying them in the designing and manufacturing of household and decorative objects. [This later evolved into the high school ‘manual training course’.]

The above photograph was printed from a glass negative that was purchased by the Society. The seller
only knew that it was someone from Westbrook, ME; it took member Suzan Norton to realize that the sign the boy is holding: ‘W.S.S. – Westbrook, Me.’, stood for the Westbrook Sloyd School.

There is a Taboret (table) on display at the Society which was made at the Warren Manual Training School by Adele Rothgeb Makowski. It is designed and decorated in the Sloyd manner. For anyone interested in learning more about this type of system, Suzan Norton has compiled some articles which may be found at the Society.






Leander Valentine, Westbrook's first Mayor, was 77 years old the year he was inaugurated.   He had been a very active politician and business man, having served both in the State Legislature and Senate when Westbrook was still a town.  He had also been a member of Governor Hubbard's staff in 1850 and 1852.
               Mayor Valentine was in the grocery trade, first with T. B. Edwards, then with Valentine-Hardy & Co. and then, Valentine and Pennell.  He became the first President of the Westbrook Trust Co. in 1890.  Mr. Valentine had been a school teacher for nearly 20 years before launching out on this varied career.              
               Leander Valentine was born in Saccarappa (then part of Falmouth) in 1814 and spent his childhood in the Cape Cod style house that still stands at 543 Main Street.  His parents were Major William and Abigail Spring Valentine.   
              The Mayor was married to Margaret Coolbroth.  They had one daughter who died in infancy.
               In his inaugural address Mayor Valentine spoke of problems which he and the Council had to face in 1891. He pointed out that the bonded debt amounted to $109,500.00. When this amount was added to expected bills to be paid, liabilities amounted to $114,570.65.
               During his term he addressed the status of the schools, sewers, Poor Department, streets and sidewalks, as well as the status of the Fire Department.  At that time there were only two hose companies, one at Saccarappa and one at Cumberland Mills. The station at Pride's Corner was over thirty years away.
              The annual report for the fiscal period ending in February 1892 included, in part, the high school Principal’s  report which stated that nine teachers at the school had received salaries totaling $2,433.23 and the bill for fuel amounted to $32.00.
            An interesting observation by the Mayor in his address to the first Council was, "I think, as our plank sidewalks become unsafe, they should be replaced with more durable material.  I consider that such a policy would be one of economy."  It would seem that the ladies of Westbrook might approve this action, particularly at times when they walked along the street in their long skirts during the spring mud season.
            Mr. Valentine built the large white house which still stands at 99 Saco Street.  He died on July 23, 1895, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. He had lived in Westbrook and served its citizens all his life.

  Information take from the 2014 edition of Westbrook Mayors - A Brief History of The Village, The Town, and The City
See gift page on information about buying a copy of the book.)

Eleanore Fournier, Miss Maine 1943
(Photo from Miss Maine web site)


A few months ago the Society received a query asking if a certain person had ever been ‘Miss Westbrook’.   We were unable to find a list of people chosen for the title of ‘Miss Westbrook’, however our Scrapbook Collection gave us quite a bit of information!  (Our large scrapbook collection consists of donated, personal collections of ephemera and information on Westbrook people and events.)
One of the most exciting things learned during this search, was that Westbrook actually had a woman chosen as ‘Miss Maine’; Eleanore Fournier was selected as ‘Miss Westbrook 1938’ and went on to become ‘Miss Maine 1943’.
It appears that several organizations have been responsible for the contest over the years: the American Legion Stephen W. Manchester Post, the Westbrook Fire Department, and the Westbrook Police Department have all hosted the event.  There is even an article found in a scrapbook, about Rudy Vallée donating the cup for ‘Miss Westbrook 1930’.

The following is a  list of the titleholders we were able to find:
    Miss Westbrook 1929 - Theresa Labrecque, W.H.S. 1927
Miss Westbrook 1931 - Sylvia Lebel, W.H.S. 1930
Miss Westbrook 1932 - Evelyn Kimball, W.H.S. 1931
Miss Westbrook 1938 - Eleanore Fournier, W.H.S. 1939 - Miss Maine 1943
Miss Westbrook 1944 - Lucille Bernard
Miss Westbrook 1945 - Sue Landry
Miss Westbrook 1946 - Lina Gagnon
Miss Westbrook 1947 - Constance Libby W.H.S. 1946
Miss Westbrook 1955 - Victoria Clark
If you have information on someone we have missed, please notify the Society at 207.854.5588 or
  References: Westbrook Historical Society's Scrapbook Collection




For those readers out there who worked at the S.D. Warren paper mills, I'm sure they will remember the monthly company publication the Warren Standard. This 'newspaper' was printed on a beautiful glossy paper and contained a wealth of information about the paper industry, the employees and the city of Westbrook.

A couple of months ago, the Photo of the Month was about the Westbrook Inn, or White House, as some called it. For those with a mill connections, the photo seen above, is the White House they remember.

This photo, and the photos below, were in Vol. 19, No.7, 1969 Warren Standard. The title was "Then and Now". The script follows below:

"Then, the 130-year-old White House [seen above]-- known as the "Goodell" house -- served the Company for many years during which it was used for various office purposes.

During the summer in 1968, a new main-office building was completed, the former main-office building was renovated and given a new name -- The Gate House -- and down came the White House!

Now, a new guard station has been built where once the White House stood. [see photo below] The balance of the space has become a most welcome expansion of the office parking lot. Newly paved, with a raised blacktop foot walk, attractively planted with evergreens and vines, fenced in with wrought-iron fence and entrance and exit gates, the "now" approach to the main offices presents an attractive and functional look."

SDW whitehouse
NOTE: The Westbrook Historical Society has a near-complete collection of the Warren Standard, as well as a vast collection of other mill ephemera.



Standing, left to right: Rose Webber. Mrs.Edna Webber (daughter-in-law to Rose, sister-in-law to Geraldine), ?Hazel Chambers, Neta Fielding Manchester, Ella Sawyer Barber, Wilhelmina Scholl, Ada Hawkes (sister-in-law of Harriet Clark), Belle Wheeler, Harriet Clark, Marion Noiles, ??, Eva Aube
Seated, left to right: Mildred Chase, Mrs. Stewert, Kathy Dunfield, Geraldine Webber Bickford (her mother, Rose Belle Webber is standing in back), Katherine Thompson, Mrs Verna Jones, ??, Dorothy Gordon
[names updated Nov. 2014 thanks to Roland Hawkes & Nancy Curran]


Since last month was devoted to a men's club, it is only fitting that this month we look at a women's organization.

The Ap-a-sun-ta Club was started by Kathy Thompson Nichols Jones, for the purpose of getting the women of Pride's Corner together. Her daughter, Arlene Dunfield Bean, was a Camp Fire Girl and her campfire name was "Apasunta", which means "Greater Beauty". Kathy felt this was a fitting name for the women's club, which met in members' homes. [We do not know when the club was started or when it ceased to be. If you have any information, please contact the Westbrook Historical Society. ]

The picture of the Apasunta Club was sent to the Historical Society a few years ago by Geraldine Webber's granddaughter. She also sent a photo of the Grain & Feed Co. which was on the corner of Bridgton Road and Brook Street in Pride's Corner. It was owned by her great grandfather, Walter Webber. *The general store (larger building in the older photo) was destroyed by fire in the 1940s and was replaced by the building seen here on the right. The grain and feed building on the left side of the store, survived the fire and was later replaced by the current structure. * [later information supplied by Roland Hawkes]

AP2 302&Brooka
Yesterday .................................................2012



Back: Harry W. Saunders, Richard J. Libby, Stephen E. Cordwell, Horace H. Towle, H.J.R. Tewksbury
Front: Josiah D. Winship, Luther Dana, Paul Huss Smith, Oscar A. Fick, Ralph W. Haskell
[NOTE: Photograph taken after the death of charter member Rev.Jonas Taylor, who died in 1921. Oscar Fick replaced him.]


Clubs, societies and organizations are in every area of the country, but the Westbrook’s Decemvir Club was a most unique organization. It was the 'brain child' of Joe Winship and H.J.R. Tewksbury, who decided to form a small business man's club. Its uniqueness lay in the fact that it consisted of ten members, engaged in ten different lines of business, and it met ten times a year.   The first meeting was January 13, 1921 and held at the so-called White House. [See last month’s article about the Westbrook Inn or “White House”.]

The charter members were: the Rev. Jonas Taylor of the Warren Church; Stephen E. Cordwell of S.D. Warren Mills; Luther Dana of the Dana Warp Mills; Ralph W. Haskell of the Haskell Silk Mills; Harry W. Saunders of the Saunders Dowel Mill; Richard J. Libby, Superintendent of Schools; Paul Huss Smith, Merchants; H.J.R. Tewksbury, Press; Horace H. Towle, Law, and Josiah D. Winship, Real Estate.  When the Rev. Jonas Taylor suddenly died, five months after the organization of the club, Oscar Fick was chosen to fill the vacant spot.

The Decemvir Club’s meetings were on the second Wednesday of each month, from September to June, and held in a member’s home. A different member entertained at the meetings by presenting a paper, followed by an informal discussion. Not much is found about the contents of these presentations, except for one newspaper article which mentions they were "of a very high order.”  It tells of a paper written by Rev. Jonas Taylor, and presented at the first meeting; its title was The Art of Conversation.  Subjects of other presentations were Daniel Webster, the Romance of General Knox, and an amusing sermonette given by Luther Dana.  If only these papers had been preserved for us to read today!

One amusing news article preserved at the Historical Society is titled Decemvir Ladies Dine.  It seems that club members expected their wives to provide a supper at each of the meetings. Apparently, after awhile, the wives got tired of this arrangement and announced that there would be “a strike next fall unless the men came across and gave them a good time this summer”.  Rather than see their club come to an untimely end, the men took their ladies out to Gray Rock, Dingley’s Island, and gave them a banquet and 'thank you' gifts.  Needless to say, the strike was called off and the club continued, at least through 1942 when Harry W. Saunders wrote a history of the club. It also seems that the 'Ladies' Outing' became a yearly event!

decemvir clock
A beautiful piece of memorabilia, related to the Decemvir Club, was recently donated to the Historical Society. It is a wooden,10 inch, facsimile of a clock, once belonging to Oscar Fick who was one of the earliest members of the Club. The time of 7 o'clock relates to the time of the monthly meetings but a big question is...what does that little red bug on the right side stand for? Any ideas?
  References: The Decemvir Club of Westbrook, Maine by Harry E. Saunders & various news clippings
See articles about other Westbrook organizations in the Photo of the Month Archives and in the Newsletters




The "White House" at Cumberland Mills was once home to several generations of the Larrabee family. It later became the Westbrook Inn, a "public resort of ill repute." . There was a story that the Rev. Parson Bradley once stopped in and found a gambling game going on. He scooped up all the money and took it with him for his church. The life of this White House was short since the S.D. Warren Company bought it to rid the community of its bad influence. They moved the building to its present location at 36 Cumberland Street and converted it into a company boarding house. It later became a hotel and is now an apartment building. It still bears the Westbrook Inn sign. This old post card shows the railroad or trolley tracks just to the left of the building; a brick apartment building is now between the Inn and the tracks.

The Westbrook Inn (aka The White House at Cumberland Mills) was originally built on a tract of land on lower Main Street opposite present day City Hall. The original building was only one story and built by an early settler named David Small. Benjamin Larrabee of Portland acquired this house and sixty acres of land and he sold the house which was moved to Cumberland Mills. It is said that the S.D. Warren Company purchased the building and greatly enlarged it to serve as a boarding house for some of it’s workers. There are no dates given of when the house was built, moved or expanded. S.D. Warren purchased the Mill in 1854 so maybe 1880’s was when the Mill acquired it.  

In an old Trade Journal it was stated that the Inn "established in October 1905 in close proximity to the business center, is a most home-like hostelry, and has a good reputation for excellence of service ...There are 30 nicely furnished sleeping rooms, with hot and cold water, electric lights and steam heat. The dining room seats 60 people...The rates are one dollar and a half per day...Five people are employed."

In 2007, when the St. Hyacinth Historical Society disbanded, they donated the "Bell-Hop", (seen below) to the Westbrook Historical Society. This type of front desk bell was used in inns and hotels. By pushing on the flange at the base of the clapper, the clapper springs back and hits the bell. This would notify the hotel personnel that someone was at the desk.



    References: Highlights of Westbrook History, compiled by Ernest Rowe: Fabius Ray's Story of Westbrook, compiled by Karen Ketover  

                               FOREST STREET SCHOOL 1949  CHEERLEADERS
Front: Wanda Christensen, Frances Stackie, Virginia Nash, Sally Percival, Marilyn Pennell, Janet Manchester
Back: Richard Levesque, Diane McKinley, Ann Blodgett, Shirley Kinmond, Amarylis Blake, James Johnson


The following information was supplied by Sally Percival Knigh regarding the above photo:  “Oh yes, the Forest Street School Cheerleaders - We wore red skirts & bows - All 8th graders, we cheered the boys’ basketball games, mostly against Bridge Street,  in Cumberland gym (no gymnastics back in ’49) and no girl’s games. I think Virginia could twirl the baton and became the leader”

Ever start one project and get side-tracked to something else? Well, that happened with this photo. The Society is always happy to receive school photos, especially with names attached, so when we received this one I started to file it in the appropriate Forest Street School notebook …we have 3 pertaining to this school! 

Lo and behold, I found more information about Forest Street School than I realized we had.  During its 8oth ‘Birthday’ Celebration, in 1974, Marion McFarland compiled a history of the school.  Marion had been a teacher at Forest Street from 1932 - 1972, so was well versed in the subject. [To see full text, click  HERE]

In 1984, Jr. High students at the Forest Street School Enrichment Center, came up with the following time line for the school:
            1894 - School was built
            1899 - Eight rooms completed and put into use
            1912 - First drinking fountains installed
            1914 - First piano purchased
            1917 - Electric lights installed
            1923 - Library started
            1927 - Rooms divided in two with barriers
            1952 - Dewey Decimal System set up for library
            1968 - Hot lunches offered
            1974 - 52 students transfer to Congin School
            1983 - School Closed

            1984 - Enrichment Center


Forest Street School, corner of Main & Forest Street, Westbrook, ME


wsbk meeting
Westbrook's First Meeting Hall in Deering, Corner of Brighton and Stevens Avenue


When the area now known as Westbrook was set off from Falmouth in 1814, a new town named Stroudwater was incorporated. However, this name did not meet the approval of the majority of the inhabitants, so three months later the name was changed to Westbrook, in honor of Col. Thomas Westbrook. At that time the town boundaries included Woodfords, Stroudwater and Deering (which extended as far as the Forest Avenue entrance to Deering Oaks) and was in the District of Maine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, since Maine did not become an independent  State until 1820.

Archelaus Lewis, Justice of Peace, called the first town meeting, before the name was changed to Westbrook, at the meeting house in Stroudwater.  In 1820 town meetings were held in the First Parish Meeting House on Capisic Street, later known as the Parson Bradley Church.  In 1830 when the town was no longer allowed to use that facility they arranged with the Universalist Society to use their chapel on Stevens Avenue for town meetings. Soon it was voted to build a town house on Riverside Street near Warren Avenue, which at that time was the geographical center of the town.  Since the meetings were held in March when heavy snow often covered the roads, the town soon realized that this site was not ideal and the building was sold. Later meetings were probably held in the Saccarappa section of town.     


This information, as well as early maps of Westbrook boundaries, lists of Westbrook Post Masters and Town and City Clerks, can be found in the updated Westbrook Mayors book, now on sale at the Society and on our 'Gift' page.




On May 28th 1914 a clipping in a local newspaper reported that  “…a huge bowlder (sic), which will form the center of the entrance to Riverbank, the new park which will be dedicated during the centennial celebration, was placed in position. The bowlder was secured at Rocky Hill and hauled to Riverbank during the day yesterday. Before the centennial the bowler will be properly inscribed as a permanent monument to the centennial.”

That boulder can be seen in this beautiful old post card of Riverbank  Park. The Park was dedicated on June 9, 1914, the last day of celebration of the Centennial of the Incorporation of the Town of Westbrook.  One would think that the park site was selected because it was located midway between the east and west ends of the city.* The name of the park was suggested by the Honorable John E. Warren. Mr. Warren had a pathway built from the old swimming pool along the bank of the Presumpscot River to the grounds of Riverbank Park. In order that no building enterprise could destroy the plans he had made, he bought, and held for many years, the land which eventually became the park, paying the taxes and finally selling it to the city for the original purchase price.

In the 1915 first annual report of the Trustees of Riverbank Park, then under the management of the Cemetery trustees, they commented that the park was the “one spot in our city dedicated for the benefit and recreation of all our citizens.”

A Monument Association was formed as a result of the 100th year anniversary. Their purpose was to raise funds and plan a design for a monument to honor all of Westbrook’s veterans, at that time, the veterans of the Civil War.  On July 4, 1917, Mayor O.G. K. Robinson accepted the 8-foot bronze soldier in Civil War uniform, atop its 9½ -foot base of Barre granite.  Mr. & Mrs. Woodbury Dana donated the statue and it was designed by sculpturess Alice Ruggles Kitson of Quincy, MA.  The town paid $500 for the base, partly paid by school children who purchased shares in the Monument Association  at 10 cents a share.

Judging from this information, the post card must have shown Riverbank around 1915-1916, after the boulder was placed and before the monument was dedicated.  The Park has been changed over the years: new monuments to veterans and events , houses torn down, trees planted, but with such a history, it is no surprise that Riverbank Park is still a very vital spot and is probably the most used park in the City.

*One older Westbrook citizen remembers her father relating that the area where the park is now, then empty land, was the dividing line between Cumberland Mills and Saccarappa Village; a line that boys of the two villages hesitated to cross. 


riverbank2 riverbank3




Woodbury K. Dana, circa 1900


A town or city is built on its citizens. So, during Westbrook’s bicentennial year as a town, it may be advantageous to take a brief look at a few of our early citizens.

W. K. Dana is one person who comes to mind when thinking of early Westbrook. “When one’s eyes fall upon the words Dana Warp Mills, the name Woodbury K. Dana instantly is spoken for he is the Dana Warp Mills”, so commented Judge Fabius M. Ray in an early article about Dana Mills.

Born on June 7, 1840 to prominent Portland citizens, Woodbury Kidder Dana attended private and public schools in Portland, then graduated from the Lewiston Falls Academy (later named Edward Little High School).  At this point he knew he wanted to enter into business, preferably one of his own.  After an early business adventure failed due to his lack of experience, he worked in Lewiston and Gray mills, gaining experience in the manufacturing of cod lines and bags and bunch yarn, 2 products which would later become staples of his Westbrook mill. He gave little regard to the stigma of the son of a prominent businessman becoming a laborer in the cotton trade.  He obviously felt he had to start at the ground level in order to learn his business. 

Mr. Dana was a religious man who read the Bible through at least once a year. It was written in a family biography that he spent several evenings a week going into homes of fellow employees and teaching them to read, write, and do arithmetic. He purchased books and supplies and taught them elementary studies.  This characteristic of caring  would be reflected in the treatment of his employees throughout his business career.

In September 1863 he enlisted in the 29th Me. during the Civil War. He served in Texas, Louisiana and Virginia.  He was discharged in 1865 and was named department commander of the Maine G.A.R. in June 1865. 

After the war Mr. Dana was ready to begin his life work as an independent manufacturer.  In 1866, with Thomas McEwan, he formed the Dana & McEwan Company at Saccarappa Falls; its purpose was the manufacturing of cotton warps. After a few years, Mr. Dana bought Mr. McEwan’s interest in the company and shortened its name to Dana Mills.    Within seven years, the mill had grown so large that it had to move into larger building on Main Street, then six years later it moved to the Island at the Falls.

The character of the man who made the goods was stamped on the goods themselves. They were made with honor and of a high standard; for years they sold themselves.  The quality of his product was due to the used of the best-known appliances, skilled labor, and intelligent supervision.  He valued his employees in an era when this was not always the case. He encouraged his employees to experiment in the Company’s machine shop and generously recognized the results of their efforts and their skills.

He served as an alderman in his adopted city, was President of Mallison Power Company, and a trustee of the Walker Memorial Library.

When interview in 1976, Miss Marion Dana, a niece, stated that “Mr. Dana was very much loved, and at…[the 50th anniversary of the founding of the mill]… in 1916, everyone turned out. Thousands of people came, and they celebrated by a parade….”  She relates that the mill employees gave him a diamond stick pin as a token of their affection.    

With its closure in 1958, The Dana Mill ended its 91 year history (1887 – 1958) in Westbrook.


To read more about W. K. Dana and the Dana Mills, see: Highlights of Westbrook History; Interview with Miss Marion Dana; Woodbury Kidder Dana, a Biographical Sketch; Fabius M. Ray's History of Westbrook.






Let it snow…let it snow…let it snow!  Maybe we don’t feel this way in this cold winter of 2014, but “back in the old days”, when life was simpler and didn’t offer as many options as today, winter was seen as wonderful time for outdoor activities.  Ice skating on the pond, sliding down the local hill and going for a sleigh ride, were greatly anticipated events.  

The Historical Society has many old photographs of winter activities and snow cleanups.     

In this photograph, a group of young people are going on a sleigh ride…maybe an old time school bus?* Hopefully it was not too cold out that day since the boys are not wearing mittens and, even though most of them are wearing hats, their ears are bare.   The few girls in the wagon are wearing warm knitted hats and scarfs.   But the one thing they all have in common, they all seem to be enjoying a sunny, winter day.

    *This is a photo of "The School Barge", according to Margaret Hawkes St. Pierre. Her father, the late Rev. Kenneth C. Hawkes, told her that the barge was driven by Mr. Woodbury and was stored for many years in the barn at Duck Pond on Rte. 304. Later the barge was moved to Smiling Hill Farm.  



Warren Block in Cumberland Mills, 1914
(Circular sign: "Westbrook Centennial")


        In this year of 2014, we will celebrate the Bicentennial of the Incorporation of the Town of Westbrook. In 1914 the celebration of the Centennial encompassed one week of festivities, and old photographs show the bunting decorated store fronts on the Westbrook businesses.   With the celebrating to come in June 2014, it is good to look back and try to imagine what life was like when Westbrook was in its infancy. 
       The years leading up to Westbrook’s Incorporation were filled with hardship, brought on by both National upheaval and primitive conditions.  The War of 1812 resulted in the United States being infested with British cruisers, from Eastport to Mississippi, and causing a state of blockade.  Provisions were so scarce that imported articles, even flour and bread, commanded extravagant prices. Without local harvests or imported foodstuffs, Westbrook must have suffered heavily.  Black markets flourished. Supplies were so dear that pork went for $50 a barrel. Coffee, molasses, brandy and tea prices skyrocketed in 1813, often doubling from the pre-war cost. Prices did not return to normal until 1815.
        The winter of 1815, the first for the Town of Westbrook, recorded heavy frosts throughout the area. Frost was reported upon the window panes in July and most all crops were ruined. At that time the people were so dependent upon the local soil for sustenance that they were obliged to resort to game meat and fish; other foods could only be purchased as a luxury.
       On the brighter side, paradoxically, while the blockade injured seacoast areas, it helped manufacturing grow inland.  Thirty new companies were incorporated in Maine in 1814. Westbrook could easily have enjoyed this manufacturing boom — thirty-one local business concerns were assessed that year.
          Adding to the hardships of this war was the fact that Maine's heart wasn't in it. In 1814 the    "United States" were not, in fact, united in spirit.  Massachusetts was thinking of seceding; and we must remember that at the time of Westbrook’s Incorporation it was a town in the District of Maine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  On June 9, 1814, the very day of Westbrook's incorporation, proof of the sentiments of Massachusetts, appeared in an article in a major local newspaper, the Portland Argus:

         “Advices have been received .... of a proclamation issued by the
             government of  Massachusetts……

          “By this proclamation it is asserted that Massachusetts withdraws
from all participation of the war, and declares her amity towards
           England. It is also said that English prisoners in that state have been liberated
           and means been taken to effect a perfect conciliation with this country (England)."

          If in 1814 the Nation was primitive politically, it was equally primitive domestically. "Chains, shackles and ring bolts" were standard equipment at the County House (jail). At home, "homespun clothing was generally worn by all classes. The girls were taught the art of spinning and weaving, and if they were adept in this art, coupled with that of cooking, it was considered their highest accomplishment to meet the duties of wife and mother."  
         1814 is a significant  year in Westbrook history; but it is also a year that will long be remembered in our nation's history. For it was after a night-long battle, when the haze and smoke of the cannons had finally cleared, that ...our flag was revealed intact at the battle of Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore, Maryland. On that September morning, in 1814, Francis Scott Key, a prisoner aboard ship in the harbor, dashed off most of the verses of our immortal Star-Spangled Banner!
          As these words shows, we have come a long way since Westbrook became a town.

Centennial Banner which hangs in the Westbrook Historical Society

Auto and Girl Scout floats


Saccarappa Grange float




Machine Shop 1888
Front row, left to right: Ed Randell, H. Barber, Geo. Melcher
2nd row: Jim Fisk, Dana Plummer, Geo. Graham, Clark Morton, Frank Murray
3rd row: Ruben Holsten, Geo. Hallowell, Andrew Cloudman, Geo. Morrill (foreman), Ed. Richardson, Chas Morrill,
Simon Elder
Back row: Fred Naylor, Dave Hannaway, Sam Hallowell, Ed Hale, Ed Hamblen


This great photograph of the S.D. Warren Machine Shop crew of 1888, is from our S.D. Warren Collection. Throughout the years, the Warren mill preserved many of their workers and departments in hundreds of photographs. This was probably due to the fact that they published a workers' newspaper, in later years called the Warren Standard. Those of us who had family members working there, remember the paper printed on mill glossy paper, full of pictures and interesting article about the employees.

This picture is representative of most of the worker photographs ...the men proudly showing off for the camera, work tools proudly displayed ...notice the wrench and hammer, instruments of their trade.

Another good feature of the Warren photographs is that names are usually included,again, because of the printing of the photos into the newsletter. But whatever the reasons for the pictures and their labeling, they remain for our pleasure all these 100 plus years later.

NOTE: Names were copied as they were spelled on the photograph




Isabel T.Ray, in her Historical Sketch of Westbrook, commented that "it is not known with any degree of accuracy on what date the first white man settled within the limits of what is now known as the City of Westbrook….what settlers came did not remain …probably the earliest settler here of whom we have any record was Joseph Conant", who came from Beverly, MA with his brother Samuel. They were the great grandsons of Roger Conant, first settler and Governor of Naumkeg, now Salem.

The year of the Conants arrival in this area is not known but in 1728 two lots of land in the area were assigned to him. The Conants ran a saw mill & grist mill on the falls at Saccarappa and were also farmers. Some of Joseph's descendants settled in the Highland Lake area of Westbrook. Samuel married Mary Peabody and it is from this family that Conant Street was named.

This old photograph, from the Warren Library Collection, shows the old Conant homestead on Park Hill. It was built by Samuel Conant and at one time was considered to be one of the oldest houses in Westbrook. The renowned sculptor Benjamin Paul Akers, creator of the Pearl Diver, was born here.

The Warren family took title of the property from the Conant family and the property had several other owners before it became vacant and fell into a dilapidated state. The House was destroyed by fire sometime around 1915.


Presumpscot Elect Co. under construction in 1907 ...Park Hill and the Conant House can be seen in background




Stone marking site of Colonel Thomas Westbrook's grave


June 9, 2014 will mark the Bicentennial of the Incorporation of Westbrook.  In 1988, Mayor Philip Spiller (1922 - 2005) was contacted for information on the origin of the name ‘Westbrook’ and for some details about our City. Some of his responses, as well as information taken from “Letters of Colonel Thomas Westbrook”  give a history of our City and its namesake.


Westbrook was named in honor of Colonel Thomas Westbrook, an early Indian Scout in the Province of Maine (when Maine was still a part of Massachusetts) who in 1727 became Mast Agent for the Royal Navy at old Falmouth. It was named June 9, 1814, 70 years after the death of Col. Westbrook.   Col. Westbrook was remembered as being the first of the area's great Colonial entrepreneurs, a visionary businessman.  It has been suggested but not documented, that the name was brought to the attention of select­men by a member of the family descending from the Colonel's sister, Mary Westbrook Knight.

Although his home was in Portsmouth, NH, Col. Westbrook was an Indian scout and fighter in the Maine area as early as 1704.  He did not come to live in Maine until 1710 and  is recorded as living in Scarborough by 1719. His brother-in-law, Nathan Knight, an agent and contractor for Col. Westbrook, also lived in that town.

In 1727 Col. Westbrook permanently settled at Stroudwater and was admitted as a citizen and proprietor of the town of Falmouth. He had received an appointment as the King's Mast Agent and he found Stroudwater the place best suited to his needs because the nearby Saccarappa area was already deeply involved in lumbering.


In 1718 the Town of Falmouth had been incorporated and covered a very large area of land on Casco Bay, the Fore River and Presumpscot River; but as business community centers emerged, citizens chose to carve out separate towns with separate leadership: Cape Elizabeth in 1765; Portland in 1786; and West-brook in 1814. Westbrook was separated from the town of old Falmouth in 1814; and within its boundaries was the village of Stroudwater on the Fore River where Col. Westbrook had settled.

At the first town meeting on March 14, 1814, the name "Stroudwater" was chosen for the new town, but within 3 months the name was changed to Westbrook to honor the Colonel. (The Town of Westbrook became the City of Westbrook in 1891 when Leander Valentine was elected the first Mayor under a mayor-council form of government.) 

  During Col. Westbrook's military service he became well acquainted with, and joined into business ventures with Brig. Gen. Samuel Waldo. Waldo later took him to court and, through shrewd legal procedures, stripped Westbrook of his land and money.  The Colonel’s financial losses, combined with impaired health caused a rapid decline in his health and he died in debt in February, 1744, leaving a wife and daughter.

It was Col. Westbrook's family who decided to bury his body secretly because it was then the custom for any creditors to hold the body for settlement of outstanding claims. No one was sure for 232 years exactly where the old Colonel's body was laid to rest.                  


Roger Knight, a descendent of Nathan Knight, had been told that a rock framed mound located in the woods of his family farm was the grave of Col. Westbrook.  In 1976, the Country’s Bicentennial,  Mr. Knight invited the Westbrook Historical Society to excavate the site on the property and Col. Westbrook’s remains were found there along with a metal plaque with part of Westbrook's name showing and a hinge and small steel oval that could possibly have been a piece of his belt buckle. The stone and plaque shown here now marks the burial site which is located just over the Scarborough line on the Knight farm.



To the right is a copy of the King's Broad Arrow or King's Mark. Col. Westbrook's men would stamp trees with this mark to signify that the tree belonged to the King and would be cut and sent to England for use for ships' masts. Of course these were the best trees with the largest diameters, 24" or larger, and selected for the King's Navy.

This is the significance behind the Westbrook schools'
teams being call "BLUE BLAZES"




This is a photograph of the Catholic Action Crusaders Clubhouse on the corner of Lincoln and Bridge Streets. The building was originally used as the office for   the executive and clerical staff of the Haskell Silk Mill until purchased by the Crusaders in 1939.


The Catholic Action Crusaders Club of St. Hyacinthe Church was comprised of male youth, 16 years old and up, from the Westbrook parish.  The Crusaders were formed on April 12, 1937 when a young curate, Father Adrien Casavant, encouraged  twelve baseball players to form a catholic action movement. Within four months the original membership of twelve rose to the astounding number of one hundred and thirty-six. The parishioners rallied behind their young men and patronized every enterprise of the new Crusaders.  These endeavors included baseball, basketball and hockey teams, as well as light dramatic presentations and minstrel shows. The Crusaders baseball team won the 1938 Westbrook Twilight League championship.

Upon joining, the young parishioners learned the purpose and expectations of the organization:
"This club is an organization of catholic young men grouped together in order
    to promote good clean social, athletic, intellectual, and religious activities.

"Of a Crusader, we expect one thing: to be a gentleman. We expect him to live
    a good clean decent life
and to do nothing that will bring shame and dishonor
himself, his family, his religion or his club.
“We expect him to be a man of honor and a good sport. We want him to be
    friendly with all his fellow
members and to be courageous and gentlemanly…
“If you follow these simple rules of a Crusader, you'll be an honor to yourself, your country and your religion…..”

Within a few years of its formation, the church members decided that the boys needed a place of their own where they could meet and group together. The club president, Raymond Morin, and his aides found a suitable location and building, the old offices of the Haskell Silk Mill. Father Casavant and Armand LeBlanc took upon themselves the task of secur­ing the purchase money and a Corporation to oversee the adventure was formed from leading men of the parish.

Thus, by early 1940 the Catholic Action Crusaders were proud possessors of one of the best club­houses in the state. In a news article at that time, the building was described as such:
 “On the first floor of the 42 by 35 foot, two story structure, will be a large social room with a fireplace, a library with another fireplace, a trophy room, directors' office, a large reception hall and a pool and game room. The entire second floor will be given over to a gymnasium with a boxing ring and apparatus. The building will be completely air con­ditioned and indirect lighting will be installed. It will be finished in a modernistic style.”
Youngsters, by the dozens, flocked to the membership committee seeking admission, a comfort­ing fact for those who had labored hard to make their organization enviable to all catholic youth.

     By the fifties membership in the club was waning and the building was sold to the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1951. In 1958 a fire in the building greatly altered its outside appearance.


Ray Morin proudly shows off his Crusader
Drum & Bugle Corps uniform

Crusaders New England Baseball Champions
Front: Jules Bernier, Roger Belanger, Gerard Fefevre, Conrad Poitras,
Roger Aucoin, Albert Doyle
Back: Adrian Cote, Aime Daniel, Bill Aube, Red Francoeur (manager),
Rev. Casavant, Jimmy Morris, Arrthue Bernier, Roland Fredette,
Camile Brochu




First row, left to right: Coach Frederick Harlow, Malcolm Roma, Philip Buotte, Robert MacHardy, William Cary,
Ronald LaBrecque,Ronald Johnson
Second row, left to right: Manager Richard Robinson, Robert Barrows, Donald Fogg, Wayne Worcester, Armand Caron,
Jackie Gaudette, Peter Grondin, John Johnson, Asst. Manager Lawrence Rousseau
Third row, left to right: Raymond Landry, Josiah Morse, Maurice Harvey, Richard Fortin, Lawrence Robichaud, Edward Poitras, Robert Bernier, Erlon Knight


Little did this team know that when they won the Telegram League and State Championship in 1951, that it would be FIFTY-THREE years before Westbrook would ever capture another such titile!

Below is the team information as it appeared in the Westbrook High School yearbook The Blue & White 1952:


The Westbrook High baseball season of 1951 was really successful. Our team captured the Telegram League and State Championship.

When we entered the final game with South Portland, we had a 12-3 record and were tied with the Capers for first place. We won the game 4-3 in ten innings behind Bill Cary, ace moundsman. The winning play turned out to be the "double-squeeze" which Coach Harlow had had the boys practicing all year.

We drew a bye in the first round of the State Tournament and faced South Portland again in the second round. With another close game expected, a large crowd turned out. Cary again held the Capers and we pounded out a 7-1 victory. With South Portland out of the way, we faced Lewiston. Cary went to the mound again and we smacked Lewiston, 9-4, to win the Western Maine Championship. This gave us the right to meet Presque Isle for the State Cham­pionship at Bangor. Gary went to the mound and pitched tremendous ball to hold Presque Isle to three hits. We won the game, 9-0, and ended a very successful season.

As anyone who followed the team could see, it was built around ace south­paw Bill Cary, who pitched terrifically all year. Bunky Buotte rounded out the other half of the battery doing a great job of receiving Cary's southpaw slants. The infield gave Cary good support during the year. Mal Roma was at first base, Freshman Bob Bernier was at second base and Joe Morse was at third base. Bob MacHardy, the batting star of the club, was at shortshop. The speedy outfield consisted of Larry Robicheaw, a great defensive outfielder, in left; Toots LaBrecque, a former second baseman, in center; and Dick Fortin, a transfer from Cheverus, in right. A good spot pitcher was Erlon Knight, who had a 3-0 record. Reserves who played an important part were Jackie Gaudette, Armand Caron, Wayne Worcester, Maurice Harvey, and Bob Barrows. Cary, Buotte, Robicheaw, and MacHardy were selected for the All-Telegram League Team, while LaBrecque, Morse and Fortin were given honorable mention.

A great deal of credit should be given to Coach Harlow, who brought the the team through in beautiful style. His knowledge of baseball and his love for the "world's greatest game" inspired the team throughout the season.




sewing circle


This beautiful old, unmarked photograph…probably taken in the 1920s or 1930s, judging from the dress, hair styles and wrist watches… speaks to a time long gone.    A favorite afternoon activity for young ladies of the early 19th and 20th Century  was to gather with friends and do needlework; this group paused a moment to capture their handiwork on film. On close-up we can see lace-work (tatting), crochet, embroidery, cut work, sewing and hooking; what a variety of skills!  These pieces could be packed away for the bridal chest, used as gifts, or donated to the needier families in the town.

One early local organization dedicated to doing charitable deeds...such as sewing for the needy...was The Martha Washington Charitable Society of Saccarappa, Maine. The group was formed in 1846 and amended its Constitution from that of the Female Charitable Society developed on September 6, 1842.

“…believing that to alleviate the miseries of the poor and extend a hand of
Charity to the suffering and destitute is a duty incumbent on all…the object
of the M. W. C. Society is…to aid the poor without regard to religious
sect... by giving or lending such articles of clothing or other means
of promoting their comfort or happiness….”
In the M.W.C. Society’s book of minutes from 1850 - 1852 they list some of the following items  that they donated:   …a hood & gloves , pillowcases, shoes,  night caps,  shirts, dickeys, chemises, night drapes, cradle quilts, shawls, quilts and sheets, as well as cloth and yarn.

For more information on the Martha Washington Charitable Society and on other Westbrook organizations see:
Fabius M. Ray's Story of Westbrook compiled by Karen Sherman Ketover
The M.W.C.S. Record Book at the Historical Society
Westbrook Historical Society's collection on Westbrook Organizations




Joe Vigeant, Bill Laviolet, Phil Guimond and father Sam Guimond****


This photo shows the interior of the old Dana Warp Mill. Smiling men stand beside bales of cotton which would eventually be made into warp for use in weaving cotton fabric. The process of making warp is described  as follows:
                             “ The process of making warp is most interesting. The bales of cotton are taken to the picker room where it is put into machinery from which it emerges in a wide white alt. It is now taken to the carding room and made into rolls, and from here to the doubling frames. Then the yearn goes through
four processes, making it each time a little finer. The next step is spinning, then comes the spooling and warping; the warps are dressed into beams and are ready for shipment.”

These workers had good reason to smile; Woodbury K. Dana, the progressive general manager of the mill for fifty-six years, was known for being generous and thoughtful toward the treatment of his employees.  The company insured the lives of all employees who had been with them nine months or longer and adopted a liberal policy in helping its employees own their own homes. By the 1950s fringe benefits were listed as: Accident & Life insurance, life insurance, a pension plan, six paid holidays a year, vacation pay, and workmen’s compensation insurance.

The mill was started in 1866 under the name of Dana & McEwen and was a simple  2-story wooden structure which stood on Bridge Street,  on the banks of the Presumpscot River overlooking Saccarappa Falls.   Under Dana’s management the Westbrook business, which started with a few spinning frames, gradually grew to a fair sized cotton mill of 56,000 spindles and over 600 employees. By then it was called Dana Warp Mill.  At one time it consumed 4,500,000 pounds of cotton and produced over 4,000,000 pounds of yarn per year. Due to the company’s growth and the need for more space, the large brick building which can be seen today, was erected on the same site as the original building. 

Even though the management of the company was always wisely progressive, the increasing use of synthetic fabrics, increasing government regulations and heavier labor costs forced the closing of Dana Warp Mills on January of 1957.

**** After this page was put up, a photocopy of the picture was found labeled "Bails & Bails of Cotton, Dana Warp Mill, 1920s". The men's names were listed under the photocopy. It is always exciting to find a photograph which is dated and has names!

To read further on the Dana Warp Mills, see the following books at the Westbrook Historical Society:
Highlights of Westbrook History,
Woodbury Kidder Dana - Biographical Sketch
Fabius M. Ray’s Story of Westbrook
Westbrook, Maine, a History (booklet)
History of Westbrook by Westbrook Historical Society (booklet)
Dana Warp Mill Notebook containing articles & photographs of Dana Mill




1st trolley
Westbrook’s first electric car, Car No. 74, was built in 1892. The “Spring Street” on the letter board is now Woodfords Street. (This picture is taken on Congress Street where the horses are towing the car over to the electrified Deering and Westbrook tracks.)


The first electric street cars appeared in Portland in 1891 on the Deering line, and ran from Monument Square to Morrill’s Corner.  Horse cars had been operating in this area, which was part of Westbrook until 1871, since 1864.

On December 22, 1891 the Westbrook City Council discussed a proposed electric line extension into Westbrook. The line would operate through Spring (now Woodford’s) Street from Forest Avenue, then along Brighton Avenue, on through Cumberland Mills and Main Street, to the foot of Saco Street.  The Westbrook line would the first section to be built purposely for electric operation on the Portland system.

In January 1892 the Westbrook Council accepted the Portland Railroad Company’s offer of a 25 year franchise.  Certain rules and regulations were discussed and accepted: a 5 cent fare would be charged between Cumberland Mills and Saco Street; cars would be limited to eight miles per hour in the city and no more than fifteen miles per hour outside the compact area; the rails would be installed in the center of the street instead of on the side.   There were some concerns about the line coming too close to a Cumberland Mills church but the Council approved the location.

Two new electric cars being built at the new Bracket Street car barn would be finished in time for the opening of the June extension. The cars were described as being 32 feet long, furnished with an oak and South American red wood interior and the exterior was to be painted olive brown or wheat (then better known as Pullman car color) and decorated in gold and vermillion. The top panel was to read: SPRING, BRIGHTON & MAIN STEETS.  In the middle of the car WESTBROOK was to be painted in large letters with the lower panel reading NASONS CORNER & CUMBERLAND MILLS.

 The early cars were equipped with two twenty-five horse power motors, hand brakes, no fenders or vestibule. A brakeman was employed to help stop the train when passengers wished to get off, to announce the streets and to ring the signal bell to the motorman. The conductor of the train collected all fares and checked all railroad crossings

June 29, 1892 was the Official opening of the Westbrook Trolley Line. Two electric cars carrying the Directors of the company and guests arrived at the Westbrook city square. The American Cadet Band and a large crowd was in the square as the cars glided to a stop amid the music and the waving of handkerchiefs. As soon as the cars were emptied of the dignitaries, the band and the citizens boarded and were given a ride to the east end and return. It was a joyous occasion.

From then on cars left the head of Preble Street for Westbrook every half hour starting at 7:10 Am. By July it was reported that more than 1,000 people per day used the line.  In 1898 the Westbrook City Council approved an extension of the Westbrook line which would allow it to continue on into Windham and Naples. 

By the early 1900s electric street railroads operated in most large cities in New England. By changing cars several times it was at one time possible to ride on electric cars from Westbrook to Boston. Electric street cars were a convenient means of transportation and a lucrative investment for its owners. They also stimulated the building of suburban homes and businesses outside the now-expensive city limits.

But time and progress march steadily on and by 1939 some of  the trolley cars were replaced by  gas driven buses. The Westbrook trolley line continued until April 20, 1941 when it was reported on the front page of a Portland newspaper:

                                     “ Crowd Jams Last Trolley to Westbrook
                                             Buses Take Over Service Today
           The rumbling wheels of the trolley No. 175, described by company employes (sic)
           as a Saco car, wrote the last chapter in an era of Paper City trolley transportation
           that covered a 45-year period”.

To read more about the Westbrook street cars, visit the Society and ask to see Charles Heseltine’s collection on Westbrook Trolleys      .




Haskell Mill


The Haskell Silk Company, manufacturers of silk dress goods, was one of the foremost silk manufacturers in New England. Their product was supplied through retail houses in almost every state of the union and carried the name Westbrook throughout the country. The company was established in 1874 and was the only company of this type in Maine and was one of the oldest in New England. James Haskell resigned his position as Agent for the Westbrook Manufacturing Company to establish this business. James Haskell was the President of the company, his son Frank Haskell was the treasurer and his other son, Edwin Haskell, was the General Manager. Frank Haskell, was appointed to succeed his father as agent of the Westbrook Manufacturing Company. He served both companies until 1889 when he was forced to resign as Treasurer of Haskell Silk Company to devote full time to the Westbrook Manufacturing Company. He did however continue as a director and part owner of tie Haskell Silk Company until his death in 1896.

The first Haskell Silk Mill stood on the west side of Bridge Street, next to the bridge that crosses over the Presumpscot River [at the rear of the present day Portland Pie Company and on the land where the Bridge Street traffic spur is located.]

The Haskell Silk Company started off manufacturing spool silk and twist and six operatives were employed. The business grew at a rapid pace and in 1881 the company began the manufacture of dress goods. Black was the predominant color at first. The silks were woven from pure silk, dyed in the yam. In the next few years many beautiful colored silk and satin patterns were woven.

All of the silk used in the manufacturing was imported from Japan in the form of skeins and the following process of making silk material was used. The skeins were rewound, followed by a procedure known as "doubling", and were then ready for the spinners. Next, the silk was reeled, dyed and wound again making it ready to be warped and quilted and woven into yard goods. The inspection or "picking" followed and the material was finally ready for finishing. The "picking" of the silk was for many years done by women in their own homes, creating a flourishing home industry in the town. The Haskell taffetas, with black warps and colored filling, were manufactured in large quantities and were widely sold throughout the United States.

Due to the large demand for these Glace' Taffetas, it was necessary to expand still further and a new mill was built further up the river on Bridge Street. This new mill contained thirty-thousand square feet of floor space and employed from two hundred fifty to two hundred seventy-five employees. The dye department boiler house and repair shop were housed in a separate building. The Mattison Power Company, located at Mattison Falls in South Windham, supplied electric power for this mill. This power station was built at the same time as the mill by the owners of the Haskell Silk Company and Dana Warp Mills. The president of the company, James Haskell, retired during this period due to ill health. William Poole became the new president of the company and Lemuel Lane became the Treasurer of the company both of these men were family connected.




marguerita lunch2


I am sure there is no one around who remembers The New Marguerite Lunch on Main Street near Vallee Square, but these two old photographs deserve more than just a passing glance, especially since they show both the inside and the outside of the business. The faint writing on the back of the photographs indicates that they were taken in 1912.  They were donated to the Society by the daughter of John Hay, a well-known Westbrook citizen and local ‘undertaker’ whose extensive collection of cabinet card photographs of Westbrook buildings and businesses can be seen at the Society.

In looking at the outside view we see, on the right, Rocheleau’s Clothing Store, a local landmark until the 1970s. Although there was no listing for Marguerite’s Lunch in the Westbrook City Directories available at the Society, Rocheleau’s was listed at 861 Main Street in the 1912 Directory. A barber (pole) can be seen on the other of Marguerite’s and a Moxie sign hangs in the window behind the man in the doorway. Obviously a celebration was in progress when this picture was taken ...maybe the 4th of July was the occassion for all the patriotic decorations?

Inside the lunch we can see a sign over the fountain which says: “Our Trusting Dept. is on roof…Take Elevator”…an early 'business' sense of humor? There is also a small sign on the top shelf which expresses: ‘Merry Christmas’ so this photographs was not taken at the same time as the exterior one but together they give us a real flavor of a small town business at the turn of the century.


Marguerite interior




Black bridge
Looking from Brown Street side of river, below Cottage Place, toward Main Street and downtown; footbridge
would be on the downtown side of the bridge


The old railroad bridge which spans the Presumpscot River from Brown Street (across from Cottage Place) to just below Fraser Field, bridges more than the river that once brought life to the Indians’ corn and fish to the high fishing place called Ammoncongin. The “Black Bridge”, as it has been called by many generations of Westbrook residents, also bridges time. Just its name evokes many a memory in the hearts of Westbrook citizens. A 1988 news article found at the historical society states:

          “Many a boy, contrary to the instructions of his parents, has hurled himself from the bridge to
plummet into the cooling waters on a hot summer day. Thousands of cigarettes have been sneaked,
and thousands of kisses have been stolen, in the shadows of the black bridge… Upon the granite blocks that hold its steel girders are layers upon layers of paint, and upon its girders are splotches of paint as if some artist had gone mad. Yellows, blues, greens, whites, pledging love, immortalizing rock stars, cussing teachers and policemen, and publishing the politics of the day. They are all there. The hippies of the sixties, the Beatles, Nixon, Kennedy, AC-DC and Van Halen, Power to the People, and Hell No We Won't Go.  Yes, the black bridge has seen it all, and  recorded most of it.”  

[ED note: A walk across the bridge in 2012 found that the graffiti has been mostly painted over…but the bridge still remains a busy thoroughfare.]  

This black hulk of steel, (now red with age and rust), grows out of the skeleton of its wooden predecessor and remains today much as it did when our fathers and grandfathers yelled out in glee and leaped skyward, to fall into the waters below. It seems much the same as when a boy carved the name of the girl who would become his life's partner into the railing of the footbridge. Yet, the bridge does change.

The first bridge at this site was built in 1870 as part of the first 17-mile stage of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad (completed to Vermont in 1875). For the first years the only people who saw the bridge were crews and passengers on the railroad, boaters on the Presumpscot, and those few who troubled to walk through the woods or fields that stretched unbroken along both sides of the river in that area.  That first bridge, built of wood, went out in 1896, victim of a raging ice-clogged river. It was replaced with a steel bridge standing on the stone piers of its predecessor.

By that time, settlement on the northwest side of the river had reached the point where there was a demand for more direct access to the commercial and cultural advantages on the Main Street side. The result was a wooden foot­bridge hung beneath the steel. Over the years this became many a youngster’s favorite route to Main Street, the ball field and swimming pool and to school. In 1989 a galvanized steel grating replaced the traditional wooden walkway of the bridge. Pipe rails were installed along inner sides of the walkway at 18 and 42 inches.  The cribbing that supports the Brown Street end was replaced with three hangers that clamp and are welded to the I beam girder.  In 1992 the City Council voted for two street lights to be installed at the ends of the bridge which had become an unsupervised center were teenagers and young adults hung out; underbrush was also cut back due to fires in the area. One year later, the Council decided to consider other ways to light the area since CMP costs for the proposed lighting would have been $5,000.

Today there are no trains traveling over the bridge. The through trains on the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad, which carried people across the bridge by the hundreds and thousands to Sebago Lake picnics and parties, to vacations in the White Mountains, and on to destinations in Vermont and Canada, are only memories. 
But the footbridge remains a vital piece of our history.  Maintained by the city of Westbrook, the walkway remains a thoroughfare for those who aren't old enough to drive a car or don’t own a car and to some who use it to reach the pathways that stretch along the riverbank. A well maintained walkway is on the Main Street side and goes from the Sappi Fine Paper Co. all the way to Saccarappa Falls and Vallee Square.

When my husband and I visited the bridge in November 2012, on a beautiful sunny fall day, people were walking on the bridge, both on the walkway and overhead on the rails, and families were walking the Main Street side foot path. It was a busy day for foot traffic. Yes, the people still come, probably now for exercise or as a shortcut, since there are cleaner places to swim. But the view along the river remains a beautiful thing to see. We did not see any lighting on the ends of the bridge nor did we see much graffiti. It appears that the huge blocks of granite supporting the bridge have been painted gray but there are still a few places where you can spot a person’s name spray painted on the blocks or on the bridge itself.  Two things of interest that we discovered on our walk, (1) there are two sets of tracks, one for narrow-gauge and one for wide-gauge trains and (2) there is a U.S. Geological Survey Marker on the bridge stating that the elevation is 69 feet above sea level.
In this era of growth, when we are losing more and more of our landmarks, historic buildings and farmlands, this great Westbrook landmark continues to serve Westbrook’s citizens.

Early photo of the wooden footbridge ........................................Metal footbridge of 2013




city hall
1910: Charles Moses & H.F.G. Hay, Mayor


In 1814 a new town of Stroudwater was incorporated. This name did not meet the approval of the majority of its inhabitant so three months later its name was changed to Westbrook, in honor of Col. Thomas Westbrook. At that time the town boundaries included Woodfords, Stroudwater, and Deering which extended as far as the Forest Ave entrance to Deering Oaks.

Archelaus Lewis, Justice of Peace, called the first town meeting, before the name was changed to Westbrook, at the meeting house in Stroudwater in 1814.  In 1820 town meetings were held in the First Parish Meeting House on Capisic Street, later known as the Parson Bradley Church.  In 1830 when the town was no longer allowed to use that facility they arranged with the Universalist Society to use their chapel on Stevens Avenue for town meetings. Soon it was voted to build a town house on Riverside Street near Warren Avenue. The town soon realized that this site was not ideal, since the meetings were held in March when heavy snow often covered the roads. so the building was sold. It is probable that later meeting were held in the Saccarappa section of town.

By 1868 Westbrook’s population had increased to the extent that management of municipal affairs of such a wide spread area were unwieldy. The town petitioned  the state to divide. In 1871 the town of Deering, which included Woodsfords, Morrills Corner and Stroudwater, was incorporated.  This left Westbrook with a population of less than 3000 but with industries developing and two railroads passing through the town, by 1880 the population had doubled.
By 1887 there was a  general consensus that the old government no longer suited Westbrook’s increasing needs and a town meeting was held at the Odd Fellows Hall in Cumberland Mills to discuss a City Charter. The state was petitioned and the legislature charter was granted that same year (1887) but was not accepted and put into operation until 1891.

The first official Westbrook City Offices were on the 2nd floor of the Scates Building, built in 1903 and located facing Bridge Street. The Municipal Court Room was located in the rear of the offices. During the years the court was held here (until about 1965) the Westbrook lawyers serving as judges were Judge Tolman, Fabius M. Ray, William Lyons, Frank Pride, Wade Brigham, Armand LeBlanc and Francis Rocheleau.   The Police Station and jail were behind the Scates Building on Carpenter Street.
This photograph was taken in the city offices in 1910. It shows Charles Moses on the left (listed as ‘real estate’ in the City Directory of 1910) and H.F.G. Hay, Mayor on the right.  It is interesting to note the cords going from the chandeliers to the table lamps..were the city fathers trying to save on expenses? And what a ‘great view’ out the window!

Due to urban renewal, City Hall moved to 795 Main Street in 1967..  The Offices moved to 1 York Street in 1995, where they remain today.




"Mr. Landry Milkman Saco St. House 1943"


Here comes the milkman!  Do you ever wonder what those words mean to today’s young people?  To a lot of us it means the delivery of milk right to our front door stoops…fresh and oh, so cold in the winter months.   Remember how the milk would freeze in winter and the cap would pop off the bottle?  And how the cream separated from the milk and Mom would use it to make fudge…or chowdah?  And how you knew the milkman’s name since he walked to your door, milk bottles clinking, to pick up the empty bottles and leave the new order? This snapshot of “Mr. Landry, the milk man” was taken in 1943 when milk was still delivered in a horse-drawn wagon and came from local Westbrook farmers.  Who is it that complains about the ‘good-old-days’? 

The 1891 Westbrook City Directory lists sixteen people under the heading ‘MILK’: Isaac G. Babb (off Spring St.), Smith Babb (Stroudwater), George M. Cobb (listed as Methodist Rd, Rocky Hill District),James H. Gowen (Duck Pond Rd), Deering Colley (Brook Rd, Prides Corner), George E. Herman (Cottage Place, Cumberland Mills),George R. Johnson, (Buxton Rd), Alonzo Libby (Main St.), James Morris (Methodist Rd), S.F. Pride (Bridgton Rd), Albion Quinby (Saco St), John Roberts (Saco St.), Cornelius Small (Methodist Rd), John Tilton (Stroudwater), Woodbury Bros. (Bridge St. Duck Pond district), and Frank Woodman (E. Bridge St.).

Over the years there have been many small dairies in Westbrook which delivered milk in their own labeled bottles:  Westbrook Dairy (run by Mace Willis Messenger)*, Elm Maple Farm (Roscoe and Richard F. Libby), Blue Spruce Farm (William L. Clarke), Grondin Dairy (R.J. Grondin), Westbrook Croft Dairy (G.A. Smith), Maplehurst (F.D. Bachelder, R.B.Taggart), Riverton Dairy, Valley View Farm (I. M. Boothby), Walnut Crest Farm (Clinton Rines), Twin Falls (R.J. Grondin), Ledgemere Farm (J.A. Kimball and Sons), Green Acres (Clifford and Gorman Thompson), Old Acres (M. H. Waterhouse) and Pine Grove Farm (J. S. Gordon).  Today, I believe there is only one dairy farm in Westbrook, Smiling Hill Farm; and their milk, still in glass bottles, is delivered to the supermarket.

As years went on and the cause and spread of diseases became better known, larger dairies like Hood and Oakhurst were better equipped to sterilize and process the milk. Since the milk was consolidated, the delivery areas expanded and for many years the milk was delivered door-to-door from small trucks.  When the automobile became more prevalent and everyone could get to the market, that practice was stopped.  No one will deny that the milk is much safer now but some of us do not want to forget the Milkman and this piece of our history.

*ADDENDUM: Linda Messenger Stewart of Delaware sent a correction for this article in regards to the name of the owner of Westbrook Dairy, Mace Willis Messanger, her father, She also supplied further information on that dairy: "I am the first born daughter of Mace Messenger named in your reference to Westbrook Dairy. Please be advised that Daddy's name is Mace Willis Messenger ... there was no such person as William Messenger. Westbrook Dairy was established by my grandfather, Carl Harvey Messenger. My Daddy took over when his father passed away in the early 1950's (I believe 1951 or 1952)" .
Stephen Landry of Buxtonn adds the following information to this photo: "Mr. Landry the Milkman" is Alfonse Landry and the horse's name was 'Dick'.  Dick primarily did the milk runs but was occasionally used on the farm for light duty task such as raking hay."

We welcome any comments or corrections to our Photo pages.

The Society has a Westbrook Dairy display which includes photos and articles, a milkman's bottle basket, milk cans and a large collection of Westbrook milk bottles. 





When I first moved to Westbrook in 1951 it seemed as though there was a church on every corner.  When I came upon this (collage) postcard at the historical society it seemed to support my earlier thoughts. Recently I checked the City Directory for 1953 and discovered that there were 15 churches in Westbrook at that time, 10 on Main Street!!!  They were: Advent Christian at 677 Main St., Bethany Hall at 540 Main, First Baptist at 733 Main, Full Gospel Assembly at corner of Seavey & Oak, Highland Lake Union on Bridgeton Rd, Plymouth Brethren at 540 Main, Pride’s Corner Union on Elmwood Ave., St. Hyacinthe at 295 Brown St., St Mary’s at 631 Main, Salvation Army at 10 Fitch St., Trinity Lutheran at Main & School St., Universalist at 719 Main, Warren Congregational at Warren Ave. & Cumberland St., Westbrook Congregational at 852 Main and Westbrook Methodist at 755 Main.   The churches pictured on this card in 1909 were a few of our older churches.
ADVENT –The Advent Christian Parish, under the leadership of the Reverend William Mitchell of Kennebunk raised funds to purchase a lot of land and build a church in Westbrook.  Services were held in the Red Men’s Hall until 1886 when the church building was dedicated. The Church tower, stained glass windows and a new organ was installed in 1910-12.   The building still stands next to Riverbank Park and is being used for religious purposes but not connected to the Adventist faith.
DANISH LUTHERAN/ FIRST LUTHERAN - The first Danish family arrived in Westbrook around 1873. They brought with them the old family Bible, Luther's Postil, and their hymn books. Feeling the need of spiritual guidance, they called together other local Lutheran families for religious services. By 1876 Lutheran services were held in Westbrook homes nearly every Sunday afternoon.  With increasing attendance there was a need for a church building so on November 2, 1882 the First Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Westbrook, Maine, was organized.   By 1891 the land for the site of the present church building, on the corner of Main and School Streets, was purchased from John E. Warren. On New Year's day 1893, the church was dedicated. All services were conducted in the Danish language until 1905 when one English service a month was held. The church has been enlarged and remodeled but it still stands and maintains an active congregation.
CATHOLIC - In 1854 many catholic families arrived in Westbrook to work in the mills, on the railroad and clearing the river way. Originally Catholic settlers had to walk to Portland to attend Mass. Later it is claimed that they met in a brick house on Cumberland Mills before renting a chapel in Brigham Hall in downtown Saccarappa. As the number of families increased and after outgrowing their chapel, land was purchased on Brown St. in 1877 for a church building.  St. Hyacinthe Parish, seen on this card, was dedicated in 1879.  In 1941, due to an increasing congregation, a long-planned large stone church was erected to replace this old wooden structure. The last service was held in the old church in 1942 and services started in the new church across the street. Work continued on the new church until January 15, 1950 when a solemn High Mass and dedication took place in the completed church.  The 3 Catholic parishes of Westbrook, St. Hyacinth on Brown St., St. Mary’s (1916) on Main St. and St. Edmunds on Bridgeton Rd (in Pride’s Corner) merged in 2010.  Due to the overwhelming choice of the parishioners, the Catholic services still continue at the older stone church building on Brown St., now call St. Anthony’s Parish at St. Hyacinth.
WESTBROOK CONGREGATIONAL - There was a First Congregational meeting house at Capisic Street, now in Portland, as early as 1767. This church was where Rev. Bradley served for 30 yrs. It was quite a walk from Saccarappa to Capisic so in 1832 twenty-three members of Parson Bradley’s Church asked dismission to form the Second Congregational Church of Westbrook, later called the Westbrook Congregational Church. The Rev Joseph Searle was called as pastor and for two years meetings were held in Small’s Hall on the second floor of the Edward’s Block on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets.  In 1834 land was purchased on the corner of Main & Brackett Streets and a church building, modeled after the meeting house on Capisic, was built for $2300. The building underwent many renovations, additions and improvements over the years but it always kept its clean, simple beauty. When the Westbrook Urban Renewal was in full swing in 1974, the church building was demolished and the congregation merged with the Warren Congregational Church to form the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.  A new church building was then built on land further up on Main Street, next to the Walker Memorial Library.
WARREN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH - In 1865, under the Rev. Joseph Danielson, the First Congregational Church started prayer services in the Village of  Cumberland Mills. The meetings were held at different homes until the size of the group outgrew this arrangement. In 1866 the women of the village joined together into the Cumberland Mills Ladies’ Sewing Society with the object of raising funds toward furnishing the first Protestant church to be erected in the Village. Samuel D. Warren, owner of the local mills, offered to purchase a lot for the building and to contribute $5000 toward its erection. Any cost over that amount he would match dollar for dollar from pledges. The Cumberland Mills Ladies Sewing Society became affiliated with the church and helped raise funds. The Warren Parish was legally organized and incorporated in July 1868 and the church building on the corner of Warren Ave. and Cumberland St. was completed in 1869.  The first minister was Rev. Elijah Kellogg of Harpswell.  The congregation remained active until 1974 when structural problems, so severe as to be impossible to repair, were discovered in the church. With the news that the Westbrook Congregational Church would be razed and moved by urban renewal, the two congregations merged to form the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.  This congregation is still an active participant in our city.
UNIVERSALIST - Early in the nineteenth century about forty members of Parson Bradley’s Stroudwater Congregational Church “withdrew” because of their Universalist tendencies and formed a free meetinghouse on Saco St.  A church building was constructed on Upper Main Street in 1832 but it did not seem satisfactory to its members. Many years of inactivity followed its construction, with only occasional services, until 1887 when a new church ‘more centrally located to accommodate those living in Cumberland Mills’, was envisioned.  Construction on this church, seen on the postcard, was started in 1887 and in 1888 a 3-day celebration of dedication was held. In 1904 the Rev. Harry E. Townsend was called to the pastorate and stayed for over 40 years, a much beloved minister of the church and an active member of the community.    The Westbrook Methodist Church continued to be active until 2010 when a dwindling and aging congregation prompted it to close its doors and offer the building for sale;  the building remains empty two years later.
FIRST BAPTIST – “The Lord surely works in mysterious ways”, reports the Brief History of the Westbrook Baptist Church, ”and when, in 1885, there was still no Baptist Church in Saccarappa, He sent to Scotland for the one who would start the work to place one here. To accomplish this he made use of the needs of the Westbrook Manufacturing Company Gingham Mills for trained personnel from Scotland to instruct their people here in the textile process. Among those who came over at this time from Scotland was Mrs. Roger Hilton, a woman who loved the Lord and immediately set out to work for Him here. Seeing the need in Westbrook, she started a Sunday School Class of small children in her kitchen on Scotch Hill.”  Soon more than just the Scottish people were attending the classes. The class size grew rapidly and it became necessary to transfer to larger quarters; during the next few the years the Scotchmen’s Football club house, the Grand Army  and the  Odd Fellows Halls were all used for the Sunday School. Many at the school members also attended the Free Baptist Church in Portland. As the group enlarged the locals wished to establish a church in Westbrook. The present church, designed by architect John Calvin Stevens, was dedicated on Oct 28, 1888 and was fee of debt at its completion.  The church history relates that the local Press reported on November 2, 1888: “The Church starts out in its good work with twenty-eight members and a bright outlook for future growth.”  And how true that statement was; the church building has undergone renovations and improvements over the years but its congregation remains an active force in the City.
 METHODIST – According to tradition, Methodism  made its first appearance in Saccarappa (later called Westbrook) when Robert Fellowbee, a circuit rider came and preached in Mr. Conant’s house on Park Hill in 1799. The First Methodist Class was formed in 1814.  After the first town meeting house (later called “the Old Iron Works” ) was built on Saco Street in 1817, Methodist meetings were held there every other Sunday.  (Congregationalists met on the alternating Sundays.)  When conflicts arose among the users of the meeting house, the Methodist members withdrew to a variety of locations. First they built a vestry on Main Street but by 1841 they had outgrown it and built a larger church on the present Church Street (which thus acquired its name). This church was destroyed by fire in 1864. For the following two years the Methodists met in the Universalists church and then in Warren Hall. In 1866 the congregation took steps to erect a new building on the corner of Main and Foster Streets, the structure pictured on this post card. The church was dedicated October 17,1867.  Methodists flourished in Westbrook, holding the first Methodist conference here in 1871 and boasting the largest Bible Class in the state up to that time in 1916.  However, by the 21st Century the church’s enrollment was aging and diminishing so the structure was sold and in 2003 it became a Teen Center

            Sources: Highlights of Westbrook History and local church histories; all may be found in the Society’s research collection.




The picture was taken from a 1975 newspaper (staff photo by Walter H. Elwell).


This photo shows two mid-19th Century houses on Main St next to the old junior high school. You can also see the Methodist Church on the far right. These houses sat on the site of the ‘new’ central post office planned by Westbrook Urban Renewal Authority.  

The house in the foreground, the former Douglass Wallace residence, was moved to 128 Spring St to become the home of Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Lefebvre. The house next to the school, also owned by Mr. Wallace, was offered for sale  ….but ended up demolished, along with the west wing of the school, in order to make room for the post office.

In the photo below, taken in 2012, you can see the post office and hidden behind the large tree, is the school. At the far right you can just make out the front of the Methodist church (sans part of its steeple) which now serves as a teen center.  The house that was moved to Spring St. is still serving as a residence.

Editor's Note (8/2013): A recent vistor to the Historical Society reported that the house next to the school was NOT demolished but was moved to Little Avenue..




Back Row: Mildred Swain, Mrs. E.S. Walter, Neta Bailey Fielding, Dorothy Hawkes, Wilhelmina Scholl, Harriet Clark
Middle Row: Ruby Swain, Beatrice Pride, Edna Pride, Mildred Pride, Alba Pride, Inez Clark, Helen Clark
Two girls, second row:  Mildred Swain, Kathleen Thompson
Front Row: ? ,      ? ,    ?/ Dorothy Gordon, Esther Swain, Adelaide Gordon Marion Walker.
Left seated:  Philip Scholl, George Gross, Mrs. Gross behind
Right seated:  Minister Alexander Duncan (1911-1918), Milton Swain, Ellen (Bidie) Thompson behind


According to AN EARLY HISTORY of PRIDE’S CORNER by John R. Lewis, the early religious affiliation for the settlers of The Corner centered around the Friend’s Meeting House in Riverton and the Parish Church in Westbrook.  Even though there  was a  Sunday School  meeting in the area by 1885, it wasn't until 1909 that it was felt that there was a need for a  church and church school in Pride’s Corner. An organizational meeting was held in John Clark’s store and officers were elected, teachers selected and the Sunday School was named the Pride’s Corner Union Bible Society.

Up until 1911 the school and preaching services were held in the Pride’s Corner school with the city’s permission, but the city began showing “a change of heart” in this setup.  In 1912 land on Elmwood Street was purchased and fund-raising was started for the construction of a  church building. With great pride, and lots of hard work, The Pride’s Corner Union Church Society dedicated the Prides Corner Church on June 20, 1915, free from debt.

The church has always been a strong influence in the lives of the people of The Corner. This picture of a Sunday School class was taken on the steps of the Pride’s Corner school so was taken before 1912. Many of the people in the photo were children of the original founders. The names are included on the back as well as a brief insight into the lives of some of the school members.


On the back of the photograph is this summary of some of the people pictured:

Dorothy Hawkes, dtr of Isaiah Hawkes, m. Harold Hawkes
Harriet Clark, wife of John Clark
Ruby Swain m. VanVliet
Beatrice Pride, dtr of James & Dora Pride/m. Francis Libby
Edna Pride, dtr. of Charles & Cora Pride,m. Sheldon Chase
Mildred Pride, dtr. of James & Dora Pride, m. Harold Pride
Alba Pride, dtr of Charles & Cora Pride, m. Charles Lewis
Inez Clark, dtr of Harriet & John Clark,m. Morris Hawkes
Helen Clark, dtr. of Harriet & John Clark ,m.Leon Eldridge
Mildred Swain, m. Lawrence Harmon
Kathleen Thompson, m. Fred Dunfield, m. Nichols, m. Jones

Thus we have a mini history of a neighborhood... on one photograph!

Thanks go to Nancy Curran for sharing the names and information listed on the back of her photograph




(Cumberland St. bridge on left with S.D. Warren mill behind, Warren Congregational Church in the background)


In 1905 Cornelia Warren funded a ‘swimming pool’ to be built in the river since this was the only swimming area available to the children at the turn of the century.  The pool was placed on the banks of the Presumpscot River, nestled between the Elms and S.D. Warren Paper Company. From early morning until dusk, boys and girls would swim, wade and splash at the ‘river bath’.

The pool was constructed by placing cement block bases in the river and building a ‘pool house’ upon the blocks. The area was surrounded with a boom, and slats placed around the blocks were meant to keep out most of the flotsam. The river flowed through the slates connecting the pieces of foundation, making the center a “fresh” water tank which formed a swimming area.

In one old newspaper article the pool house is described as follows:  “lockers ringed two sides of the pool. There were steps into the pool, and a wooden floor slanted downwards from one end; each year the river was drawn down and workmen from S.D. Warren Co. repaired or replaced the dryer felt (heavy canvas) that covered the floor. A rope in the middle warned swimmers of deep water beyond. On the opposite end were two diving boards, one on a platform.”  The center of the house was left open to the sky. 

This early photograph shows what looks like a full roof but everyone remembers the center roof-area being left open to the sky, and most other photos support this. The cement foundations are all that is left of the river bath and they can be seen along the east banks of the river.  This was a very popular summer spot for Westbrook children but there was no way to purify the water flowing through the pool. Remember, at that time there were many active mills along the river and above the swimming pool.  Despite being subject to pollution, it was long agreed by the Cornelia Warren Community Association* that the facility was still safer for children since they were under the eye of a life guard, than to risk a fatal accident in the river due to unsupervised swimming. However concerns for the children’s health and safety became a major concern when the polio outbreaks in the 1940s were thought to be spread via swimming. 

In 1947, the Association seriously considered the idea of building a new swimming pool. Once they were able to secure financial backing with funds provided by the Association, the S.D. Warren Paper Mill, the Warren Memorial Foundation, Dana Warp Mills, and funds collected through a city wide fund drive, the excavation for a the new facility was started in October of 1947.

The new pool, which would utilize Sebago Lake water, would replace the old tank operated by the Association. A wading pool was also made available on the playground before the season opened the following June. The swimming pool was eighty feet wide and 150 feet long and allowed 300 people to swim at one session. It was completed in 1949 and the ‘river bath' became history.

Did you ever swim there? If so, drop us a note to tell us of your experiences.

* Cornelia Warren Community Foundation was incorporated in 1925 from a trust left by Miss Warren who died in 1921. (She was the daughter of Samuel D. & Susan Warren.) Its purpose is to maintain the many gifts that Miss Warren gave to the City of Westbrook.

(Information taken from A Presence in the Community: The Warren Family Legacy.  2000)
Visit the Society to see interior photographs of the pool house and photos of kids jumping from the 2nd story into the river.






A recent query to the web page prompted a look at this old photo (c. 1900s) of the Warren Block in Cumberland Mills. Notice the horse and wagon…and the two-way streets. Today the block is a one-way triangle route.

In 1882 Mrs. S.D. Warren (wife of the owner of the nearby S.D. Warren Paper Co.) commissioned the construction of the Cumberland Hall. In later years the building has come to be called the Warren Block.  Francis H. Fassett and John Calvin Stevens of Portland were hired as architects and Stevens designed the building, considered to be one of his finest early designs. Mrs. Warren intended the building to be used for community services and activities and to benefit the citizens of the area, many of whom were employed by her husband. [See archived photo article about the Cumberland Gymnasium founded in 1904 by Miss Cornelia Warren, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel D. Warren.]

Cumberland Hall was built in the Queen Anne style, one of the most sophisticated and complex style structures in Maine at the time. It portrayed the progressive trend in the late 19th century to let the inside use of the building dictate the outside design. Another factor in its design was the triangular piece of land on which it was designed and built, thereby making the three storied building an elongated shape. The roof is an irregular hipped style with a small domed tower.  The foundation is granite while the building is a mixture of brick and frame construction. The first two stories are of brick and the third is wood covered with shingles. Exterior decorations are made of brownstone and terra cotta.  Also reflecting the period style, the windows were designed with many small panes.

This photo shows the building as originally constructed, before the ‘nose’ building was added in the late 1940s, early 1950s.  Since its erection the block has been ‘rehabbed’ a few times but the outside original  style and flavor have been maintained.

The Warren Block has always been an active and focal part of the Cumberland Mills community. Over the years it has housed a branch of the post office, a pharmacy, a dress alterations shop, a cobbler shop, a book binders, a bakery, a laundry, KFC, as well as restaurants, bars and, today, a tattoo parlor. 

It may have been 1974 before the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places but it has always been a Cumberland Mills landmark.




Back: Coach John Paddy Davan, Bill Palmer (Manager), Philip “Bunky” Buotte, Tony Wedge, Earl Barrows,  
         Bob Barrows, John Barton (Assistant Manager)
Front: Bill Cary, Bobby Morton, Bob MacHardy, Larry Swett


In 1951 Westbrook High School’s basketball team became the 1st Westbrook team in twenty-four years to win the Maine Class L Championship title and bring the trophy home to the Paper City. The team marked up its 26th straight victory when it beat Bangor High 71 to 54 to win the final game of the tournament.

The Blazers headed off to the New England Tournament with high hopes. They were pitted against Worcester's St. John's High in the first play-off game and St. John's won, 69 to 61. Westbrook put up a good fight and ended its season with a 26 – 1 record.   Bill Cary was named to the second team of the Boston Garden’s New England Inter-Scholastic Basketball Tournament all-star team. The high school students and the entire Westbrook community gave the team a heroes 'welcomed home'.

This team photograph and two scrapbooks with clippings of the team members histories, going back to their grammar school basketball years, were recently donated to the Society by Manager Bill Palmer (seen in the photograph.) Bill still beams with pride when he speaks about those glory days. His sacrifice in donating the memorabilia for all to share is much appreciated by the Westbrook Historical Society.


HL Grange


The Westbrook Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, No. 87 was organized January 11, 1875.  In 1934 the name was changed to Highland Lake Grange No. 87.

Meetings were held in the upper room of the Duck Pond school until 1889 when this building (photo circa 1910) was erected on the corner of Hardy Road and Bridgton Road (Rte. 302).

The hall was used for church meetings during the winter months. A stable and storage building was added next to the hall in 1905.  Money for the addition was raised from a two day “Fair and Exhibition” which raised $75.10. Electricity was installed in 1926 and the first floor was leased from 1926 to 1937 to P.B. Burns for a store.

The Grange was an active member of the community. In 1934 their protests aided in preventing the proposed closure of the Prides Corner fire barn. Fire protection for the hall, however,  continued to be twelve pails of water.  The Welfare committee furnished a clock for the school and members set up playground swings.

In the 1960's the Grange was moved from its original location and placed on a new foundation, with an addition.  In the early 2000's the building underwent further improvements including new windows, insulation, roofing and electrical upgrades.

The Grange has been and continues to be a vital member of the community, from its founding to the present in the 21st century. In the early years the Grange supported local farmers with a store, entertainment programs, and agricultural fairs. In recent years public suppers are held to support various causes, and the  Grange opened the hall for use by other groups such as 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts

Thanks go to David Gowen for an update on this still vital facility.



Highland Lake Grange 2013



According to records in Washington, D.C., a post office was established in Saccarappa on November 1, 1797. Enoch Freeman was the Postmaster and the “town” was a part of Falmouth. The post office was named Saccarappa until the town of Westbrook was incorporated in 1814. (Westbrook was actually incorporated in February 1814 under the name Stroudwater but three months later the name was changed to Westbrook).

In the early years the post office was located in a store on Bridge Street and mail was distributed to patrons from a “merry go round”: all the mail was placed on the merry go round and patrons would twirled it about and retrieve their mail.

There were also post office branches in Cumberland Mills in the Warren Block (opened in 1870) and in Prides’ Corner.  [See Photo Achieves: A.D. Woodbury Store]

In 1903 the main post office was moved to the Scates Block on Main St across from Bridge.  At this time free delivery of mail was instituted  and Charles W. Munson, a local historian, was appointed as one of the four first City mail carriers. He later became a carrier in the Cumberland Mills branch. [Most of the information in this article was taken from Charles W. Munson's article History of Westbrook, published in the local newspaper. The full article may be found at in the Society's archives.]

In 1935 a federal post office building, seen here,  was erected on Brackett St. where the main post office remained until 1978 when the current building was constructed next to the old high school on Main Street.. The building on Brackett St. has been converted for commercial use.

January 2012


Leaving the old location
17 Dunn Street

A lot of packing to do

The new home
Where to put it all?
Putting it together again

Here to help....


It all depended on the volunteers!
Opening soon! - 426 Bridge Street


PC Lunch

Cumberland Mills
(The following is Robert Barton's memories of the white building on the left of this photo. The large three-story building was the Brown Block which later became the Warren Library)

            Paper City Lunch, owned by Chester Watson, used to set on the west side of  the Warren Library, on land owned by the S.D. Warren Co. When Cornelia Warren decided to close the old swimming tank on the river in 1945 and build a new one on higher ground, Mr. Watson was told that he would have to close his diner. When the diner closed George Barton (my father) bought all the dishes for $100, then in 1946 decided to buy the building for another $100.   Dad got Mr. Richardson from Gorham to help move the building to the other side of the library onto land owned by Charles Thompson.  This move was done at night so as to avoid all the public works and City hassles….the building was put on rollers, a rake was used to hold the power lines up, and the building was moved to its new home at 16 Warren Ave. [At that time Warren Ave ran from Portland, past the mill and met up with Main St. by the library.]  
            My mother worked at the paper mill then so it was up to Dad to run the diner. Since he did not have the know-how or the funding to run it alone, he entered into partnership with Bertha Laffin and renamed the place Friend’s Lunch. However, these two co-owners were not too friendly and Mrs. Laffin told Mrs. Barton that she was with going to either “kill her husband (Mr. Barton) or buy him out!”  But it came about that Mr. Barton, Dad to me, bought her out and changed the name to Barton’s Lunch in 1954. (By this time we were also running the greenhouse on Brown St. where we lived.) During the 8 years the luncheon as owned by our family, we paid rent for the land to Charles Thompson and, after his death, to his daughter Margie Doulin.
            It soon became too much to run both the luncheon and the greenhouse so Dad sold Barton’s Lunch to a Mr. Kenney. When the business closed in the 1960s it was known as Lynn’s Lunch and was run by Harlan & Evelyn Rounds.

  NOTE: The portion of Warren Avenue between Cumberland Street and the Warren Library, just beyond Paper City Lunch, was later renamed Harnois Avenue in Honor of Chief Pierre Harnois, first permanent Chief of the Westbrook Police Department who was killed while assisting other law enforcement agencies at Limerick Maine in May of 1959.   



Westbrook Centennial 1914

In 1657 Squitterrygusset traded a tract of land running from Capisic (now part of Portland) to the Ammoncongin falls to fisherman Francis Small for “one trading coat a year and one gallon of whiskey”. In 1666 George Murphy bought a tract of land on the opposite side of the river which ran from the area of the great falls (Saccarappa Falls) down river from the lower most planting grounds. These two transactions with the local chief Squitterrygusset are believed to have been the first to give a deed of land within our city to the white man speculator.

In the years to come the local tribes experienced some embittered resentment of the white man’s usurping of their lands and staged rampages and skirmishes resulting in the the exodus and then return of the settlers. The settlers prevailed and the city of Westbrook was created in 1814. As this photograph shows, all was peaceful by 1914 and the local native peoples joined in the festivities of Westbrook’s Bicentennial Celebration. The Aucociscos culture and influence on our city is still reflected in the area by its many Indian place-names:

Saccarappa, changed from Saccarabigg (original native name) means - “falling toward the rising sun”. This name was used as the “upper” village name for many years and is still the name of one of our grammar schools.
Ammoncongin, the name used for the “lower” village and falls means– “high fishing place”.
This was the area later called Cumberland Mills and was often shortened to “Congin”, the name of another of our grammar schools. 
Presumpscot River means “many rough places river” referring to the many falls.





 According to An Early History of Pride’s Corner by John R. Lewis, there were at least two major quarries in the Pride’s Corner area of Westbrook.

The oldest quarry was located behind the old Pride’s Corner Union Church.  It is thought that stone from this quarry was hauled into Portland by oxen to build Fort Gorges and other fortifications following the War of 1812. Also, stone from this quarry may have been used to build the 'Palmer House' at 295 Pride Street. 

The second quarry was located near 607 Bridgton Road (US-302) and started operation in 1868. Owned by Jim Pride, the quarry consisted of a stone shed, tool shed, a polishing machine and two cranes. The cranes were operated by hand winches and were used to lift heavy blocks of stone onto horse drawn wagons. Stone taken from this quarry was used for boundary stones, paving stones and curb stones for the city of Portland. The quarry ceased operation during World War II and is now filled with water, making it a serene looking pond beside the road.

Although both quarries have ceased to exist, the Westbrook Historical Society has a few beautiful old photos, such as the one above, which show the process of stone excavating in the late 19th century. Especially poignant is the proud stance of the workers.




 "A picture is worth a thousand words...."
That may be, but this beautiful old photograph is labeled only "Longfellow Street Westbrook, Maine circa 1890s." Who are these people standing in front of their lovely home and barn? Where is the house located? Is it still there? These are all questions asked each time an unidentified photo appears at a historical society. Certainly when this photo was taken these questions would have been easily answered but time goes by, people move and pass on, and buildings are modified or destroyed. These people are probably ancestors to some budding genealogists out there...if only the photograph had more information!

By Edna Gowen

[Ed.: The Historical Society has many early memories of the Duck Pond/Highland Lake area which were written by local historian and life-long Westbrook resident, Edna Nye Gowen (1892 - 1981). Without these written accounts much of the area history and genealogy would have been lost. Articles similar to this would make wonderful, informative entries into the 1st Annual Westbrook History Contest, sponsored by the Westbrook Historical Society.  See Activities page.]


"Man in vest on far left is Frank Pinder. Man behind children is Fred Pinder. The man to right of Fred is Howard Gordon.
The two small children are Pinder children: Ora Pinder Roberts is the smaller child."


  As one stands by Gordon Grotton's home near Hill Pond [937 Duck Pond Road] it becomes morn and more difficult to imagine how it must have looked there when a factory occupied the east bank of Mill Brook for most of the distance from Duck Pond Road to the Dam.

From 1880 to 1900 the Portland Woodenware Co. was located there, employing a large crew of men making wooden pails; 12 qt. Water pails, 25 Ib. candy pails and small and large tubs. The official name of the factory was that given above but the local name was always the “Pail Factory”.

In Clayton’s History of Cumberland County I found the following: "At the outlet of Duck Pond there is an improved water power, of 50 horsepower upon a fall of 17ft."  This was written about 1870 and at that time or earlier the water power was being used by the Cumberland Bone Mfg. Co, producing bone manure with an annual product rated at $23,000.

About 1884 the factory burned and from then on it was under the management of the Portland Woodenware Co.

I have been told that loads of logs were dumped into the Mill pond and as needed were pushed into the saw mill atop the dam, and there, sawed into lumber.  There also was a stave mill.  Those operations used power from the Water wheel or from an engine house below the dam when the water was low.
Back on the hill beyond the dam was the lumber yard and drying shed.  Here many of the teen aged boys around the corner earned their first pay checks - One dollar for a ten hour day stacking lumber and staves.
Horses were used to haul the pails to market and somewhere in back was a building where the drivers stabled the horses.

On the west side of mill brook about where the Macomber house is now, was a storage building, 35’ X 50'.  The road to the lumber yard passed this building.

Beyond the bridge and on the side opposite the storage building was a cooper shop, known otherwise as the shook mill.  Those hogsheads and barrels were made [here]. It was a fascinating shop for school boys - fire and water produced the steam that helped shape the staves.

A.D. Woodbury Store, c. 1890


A.D. Woodbury Store was located at the corner of the Bridgton (Rte. 302) and Duck Pond Roads. It was operated by Dyer and Sadie Woodbury (Alvin Dyer Woodbury). The Woodburys lived at 1102 Bridgton Road opposite Ridge Road.

The store was heated by a wood stove with a base of sand around it to prevent a fire.  It was not only a store, but a post office and local gathering place. Dyer was the post master there for thirty years and at the time of his death was the fourth oldest in the state. After the R.F.D. service was established his post office was the only 4th Class post office in the state.

A dancing school was located on the second floor and community dances and event were held there.

The stage coach ran from Lower India Street, Portland (Grand Trunk Station) to Harrison. The stage
carried mail, freight and passengers. Despite bear skin robes, it was a cold trip from Portland in the winter! The stage stopped at Woodbury’s, one of several stops, to change horses. Woodbury had scales for weighing freight pick up along the way.

Sadie Woodbury was described as a strong willed person. She wore dentures that she would clack and in an argument they would not stay in place. She was reported to have changed the name of the post office from Duck Pond to Highland Lake, influencing the change of name of the area.

[Much of this information was received from Fred Gowen and recorded for the Historical Society records.]






Summer time is a time to be it 2011 or 1900! This photo was sent to the Society by Michel Giguére, of Quebec City, the grandson of Anna Rose del Lima Labrecque Giguére (third from the right). It was taken on the rocks "near Portland around 1900 - 1905" . Anna was an elementary school teacher in Westbrook before marrying Conroy Giguére and returning to Quebec City to live. Three of the women are holding lobsters. Their dresses are all so sparkling makes you wonder what was the nature of the happy occasion...graduation, perhaps?

**(See People, Places and Events page for more information on Anna Labreque)





In an 1982 article in the American Journal (the local weekly newspaper) Ione Barton (1902 – 1988) reminisced about Brown Street School. The school was erected in 1887, the year before her father built his house next door, and Ione attended Grades 1-5 there. She recalled that the parents of a lot of the children worked at S.D. Warren and that “Lots of French children were sent to the Brown Street School so they could learn to speak English.”   This only seems logical since it was a neighborhood school situated on the edge of the French speaking section of town and next to all the “mill-built” housing. (Located on Brown Street at the head of Garfield Street.) 

Ione remembered Julia Doyle as principal and teacher of Grades 1 and 2. (Miss Doyle would later celebrate 55 years as a teacher and principal at Brown Street.)  The photograph below is from Miss Doyle's collection; you can see her in the back row.  If you were able to enlarge this photograph, taken in the late 1890s, you would see that at least 10 of those pupils in the front row are without shoes!

The school was destroyed by a massive fire on March 23, 1958.  The school was never replaced and Barton’s Florist was built on the old school foundation, using the same sewer and water mains as the school.

Westbrook neighborhood grammar schools are now replaced with 4 area schools – Canal, Congin, Saccarappa and Pride’s Corner.


I BrownSt




(from Development of the Westbrook School System by Marian V. Chick, 1955):

1794 - 1st recorded school in the area is held at the Wiinslow-Boody house on E. Bridge St.
1812 - North School built; 1st schoolhouse in Westbrook
1820 - Legislature requires all incorporated towns to be divided into school districts; by 1824 Westbrook has 13 districts.
1871 - Deering becomes a separate town, thus reducing Westbrook’s school districts to 7
1873 - Westbrook School System begins when the old school districts are abolished and all schools
become the property and responsibility of the towns. Westbrook has 7 buildings and districts in which  schools are maintained, there are  2 high schools, one in Pride’s Corner).
             Westbrook is unusual in that 2 of its teachers are Normal graduates (there are only 294 in the entire state.)
1897 - First time that “no school” signal applies to high school – before that, school rain or shine!
1888 - First special teacher of music is hired
1906 - First practice teachers from Gorham Normal are used
1906 - Electric lights  installed in 1 or 2 rooms in high school
1909 - Industrial Department started in Dana Warp Mill
1911 - First sanitary drinking fountain installed in Brown Street school; all buildings, except rural schools (Rocky Hill, Pride's Corner and Highland Lake), have them by 1913.
1920s - (early) S.D. Warren Co. gives each commercial course student 2 weeks of practical experience in the company office.
              Boot and Shoe Fund established to supply pupils with necessary clothing
1925 - Forest Street School averages over 51 pupils per teacher
            Every school room in the city and Prides’ corner has electric lights
1927 - Out-houses finally eliminated
1947 - Drivers Education started
1954 - 42% of the class goes on to further education
            Westbrook provides equal pay for equal work regardless of sex (prior to state requirement)
1955 – City’s total teaching staff is 80

**2011 - Student enrollment citywide 2,438 - Teaching staff 274




Left to right: Louis Chretien, Joseph Hebert, Walter Hale, Edward Hebert, Willis (Billie) Mitchell,
John Pare


In 1873 the police force for the town of Westbrook worked under a constable style of policing. When Westbrook was incorporated as a city in 1891 an official police department was organized.

This great photograph of the Westbrook Police Department was given to the Society by the grand daughter of Willis Mitchell. The names and the date 1906 are listed on the back. However, a reprint of the photograph appeared in a local newspaper with the date of 1912. No matter the date, these men stand proud in their tall helmets and brass-buttoned uniforms ....ready to protect the citizens of Westbrook.


Westbrook's Opera House


A sketch of the Speirs Block, corner of Main and Speirs Streets
(current site of Subway)
The Westbrook Chronicle, Friday, November 19, 1897
Handsome New Opera House  “THE WESTBROOK”

“In the erection of the handsome four story block, bearing his name, Mr. Alexander Speirs of this city has conferred a positive and lasting benefit on the city of Westbrook that cannot fail to be appreciated in time to come.  The building…forms an important link in the business interests of the east and west ends of the city…”

This article goes on to describe the interior of the building in glowing terms and at great length. (We should note that the Westbrook Chronicle was owned by Mr. Speirs!)

The Speirs Block was located nearly in the center of Westbrook, on the corner of Main and Speirs Streets.  'The Westbrook', as the opera house was quickly dubbed, was situated on the top floor of the building. The Surehold Truss Company was located on the ground floor and a mail order business, a newspaper and a bean pot factory were also in the building.

The opera house was dedicated November 24, 1897. Ladies were assisted from their horse drawn surreys by men in top hat and tails and Mr. Speirs himself was on hand to greet the guests. The evening’s  entertainment was provided by the Oxford Concert Company of Boston and the Jefferson Orchestra of Portland.

'The Westbrook' soon became the hub of city activity, hosting social and political events and all types of entertainment. Westbrook High School held its graduations here for the classes of 1898 through 1904.

Surprisingly, no actual photographs of the building have been located. However, the tattered newspaper photograph seen below, appeared in the CHRONICLE-GAZETTE on Friday, November 25, 1904 when the “disastrous conflagration” of the previous Saturday night was reported.

Seven years almost to the day, after its dedication, a fire broke out and destroyed the building. The cause of the fire was attributed to a short circuit in “the apparatus used by Mr. George W. Collins for his moving pictures.” 200 people had been at the movie show when, at ten o’clock, Mr. Collins started the last picture of the evening. Flames sprang from the machine and the celluloid film started to blaze. Luckily the manager and ushers calmly assisted the patrons to the exits and no injuries resulted. The damage to the building however was beyond repair. 

Thus, Westbrook lost its opera house.

To read more about Mr. Alexander Speirs, the Speirs Block and The Westbrook,
visit the Westbrook Historical Society library’

Main Street Office

Before the advent of power companies it was necessary to build an industry close to a river in order to use the water power…via water wheels, pulleys and pipes… to work the machinery.  Power companies allowed factories to be located wherever it was most convenient since the power could be brought to the business over wires.

The Westbrook Electric Light & Power Co. was the first such company to supply electricity to Westbrook.  The name was later changed to the “Presumpscot Electric Company”. Their main office, seen here decorated for the 1914 Westbrook Centennial celebration, was located on Main Street.

The company had three power stations in Westbrook’s west end. Water was taken in at station No. 1 and transformed into electricity which was used for supplying the lights here and in Deering. Its power was also used for driving motors for various establishments. Station No. 2 transmitted power to the paper mills and Station No. 3 supplied power for operating the Westbrook, Windham and Naples road. There was also a station at the Lower Falls of the Presumpscot, which transmitted power to the paper mills. This electric power plant is owned by S.D. Warren Co.

The Company was described in a 1907 Trade Journal as follows:
“The company, originally established with 50 H.P., has today a 10,000 H.P. capacity and furnishes light and power for the city. That the company has been a great benefit to the city and vicinity goes without saying, always giving steady and reliable service. The plant is quipped with all the latest and most up-to-date machinery and is under the management of W.B. Bragdon, an efficient and practical electrician.”

The Presumpscot Electric Company continued in business until 1922 when the city lighting interests were sold to the Cumberland County Power and Light Company which is now known as the Central Maine Power Company.

Saccarappa Station of Presumpsoct Electric Co. as seen in an early Trade Journal

The original power company may be gone but the Saccarappa Station still stands beside the Presumpscot River in Westbrook's 'west end' and there is still a sign over the doorway proclaiming its history.

Saccarappa Station in 2010
by Oliver A. Cobb
[From the 1907 Board of Trade Journal]

1900 - Officers of Warren Phillips Lodge of Masons; Henry S. Cobb Master

The early conditions of Westbrook were not conducive to secret societies, neither were they plenty or flourishing at that time anywhere in Maine or…in the world…

We find no record or tradition of any secret society in Westbrook previous to 1840. About that time a Lodge of Rechabites was organized…but it was short lived….

About 1844, Odd Fellowship having obtained a footing in the State, a Lodge of that order was founded in Westbrook and received many members, the number of members reaching two hundred within five years.  The name chosen for the Lodge was Saccarappa and the number was eleven. After a few years of prosperity and rapid growth the interest in the Fraternity began to decline and practically ceased to exist,   although the charter was never surrendered, it being held by a faithful few during these years of adversity,   they keeping the Grand Lodge dues paid.  After these few years of quietude the Lodge was re-organized, the charter brought from its concealment and another era of prosperity began which has continued with slight interruption to the present time. About 1880 some fifty of the members withdrew and formed Ammencongin (sic) Lodge at Cumberland Mills.  While a little feeling probably arose at this time on account of their action it soon passed away and the Lodges work harmoniously… Cummings Encampment and Naomi Lodge of Rebekahs meet with Saccarappa Lodge, the members of which are made up about equally from both places.

About 1850 a Lodge of Temperance Watchman was organized and flourished for several years. The temperance movement became so strong after a few years that prohibition was made the law of the State and the society of Temperance Watchman ceased to exist. About 1860 societies of Good Templars began to be formed and several have existed in different places in the town, Duck Pond now Highland Lake, Prides Corner, Saccarappa and Cumberland Mills… Free Masonry was introduced into Westbrook in 1856. Temple Lodge No. 86 being organized and chartered that year… In 1883 fifty odd of its members dimitted and organized Warren Phillips Lodge No. 186. The brethen (sic) left peaceably and quietly and the old Lodge presented the new a set of silver Jewells for their officers as an earnest of their good feeling. ....Eagle Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was organized in Gorham about 1857 and was moved to Westbrook a few years later. They hold their meetings in the hall with Temple Lodge and their membership is practically equal with the Lodge, reaching 216 at last report. Westbrook Council No. 15 Royal and Select Masters also meets in the same hall. It was organized and chartered in 1891… Masonry was long considered to be expressly ordained for men and no woman need apply but degrees connected with the order having been formulated, woman knocked at the door of the Lodge-room, where they confer degrees both upon themselves and the brethren… Mishap Chapter No. 3 was organized in 1891 at Westbrook and Beulah No. 5 a year later at Cumberland Mills.

About 1870 the organization known as Knights of Pythias was launched in the community and Presumpscot Valley Lodge No. 3 was chartered at Saccarappa and grew apace… and later Westbrook Lodge was started in Saccarappa…Connected with the Pythians is the Pythian Sisterhood called Calanthe Assembly and is wholly made up of the ladies…

About 1875 when Granges were being organized the citizens in the north part of the town started one to be known as Westbrook Grange…the number is augmented by those coming from the neighboring towns of Windham and Falmouth… They own their commodious hall.

The veterans of the Civil War were not early in uniting and forming a Post but about 1880 Cloudman Post, named after Andrew C. Cloudman who early gave his life for his Country, was organized…  While the members are growing old they made a commendable appearance Memorial day and hold meetings twice a month. Connected with the institution is a Ladies' Relief Corps made up of the veteran's wives and daughters. The Sons of Veterans and the Ladies' Aid, composed of their wives and sisters, are also nourishing organizations. The camp was named after William Wade, a young man formerly residing here…

About 1880 the order of the Golden Cross having risen to promience in the country a Commandery was established at Saccarappa and shortly after another at Cumberland Mills…About the same time a Lodge of the Iron Hall was formed. The order was for men only and required a mint of money to run…

A year or two later labor organizations began to be popular and the Knights of Labor being the pioneer grew apace. Within a year there were over a million in the United States. The need of a society like this was never really felt in Westbrook yet it came and came with a rush. Within a year four lodges were established in the town… The Knights of Labor organization was worthy of a better fate as the precepts taught were good and nearly all were eligible to join, the only occupations that were denied admission were Lawyers, Bankers, Gamblers and Politicians, but Trades Unions took the place of the general union, being more select and more easily managed. Trades Unions have never flourished in Westbrook the only attempt being a Paper Makers Union which lasted only a few months.

The Red Men started at Cumberland Mills about 1890 with over one hundred charter members… The wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of members have a society connected with the Red Men called Daughters of Pocahontas.

The Foresters of America also hold meetings regularly and are a worthy organization as their name would indicate.  [See Spring 2009 Newsletter, for more information on this Order.]

Occasionally one portion of a cummunity (sic) feels called upon to look after and regulate doings of another portion hence we early find among us the Society of Knownothings who took upon themselves to say who should and who should not hold office. They began about 1853 and were short lived. The American Protective Association followed later, on the same lines, then the Orange Men and finally the American Mechanics, a very much milder and less aggressive order, has gained a foot hold with us and are doing a good work. The ladies connected with them and are styled Daughters of Liberty.

The new England Order of Protection also is a flourishing body composed of both men and women and have an insurance connected with them and are doing a good work.

The Catholic people also have their societies and hold meetings regularly. The principal among them are the Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph's Lodges. They are in a measure under the care of the church and the members are pledged to temperance. The work is performed in the French language.

There may be other societies which the writer has overlooked but enough has been written to show that no one coming here either transiently or permanently need fear of not finding a lodge home. The societies at present in existence are Masons Lodge, and Eastern Star in each end of the town, also Chapter and Council Odd Fellows, two lodges, Encampment and Rebekah, Knights of Pythias, two lodges and the Sisterhood, a Grange, Grand Army Post with Relief Corps, Sons of Veterans with Ladies' Aid, two Commanderies of the Golden Cross, two of Red Men with Pocahontas, Foresters, United Order of American Mechanics with Daughters of Liberty, Saint John and Saint Joseph's societies, Good Templars, New England Order of Protection with an open field for any other promising order that may choose to come among us.

[Condensed from the 1907 Board of Trade Magazine; spelling left uncorrected.]
[Also of note, the Society has a record book from The Saccarappa Martha Washington Charitable Society, 1846}


Cloudman Post

Cloudman Post G.A.R. 1913 ("none living by 1943")
Photo taken in Cumberland Mills beside Warren Block


and the


wsbk cornet band
Picture of a picture, taken by Fred W. Bull, Westbrook, CT - date and photographer unknown


Unless you live in Westbrook, MAINE, you’ve probably never wondered how Westbrook, CONNECTICUT got its name.  Well, some of the (Maine) society  workers wondered and they sent a query off to the “other” (CT) historical society.  The answer, kindly given by Margaret Buckridge Bock, was that “Saybrook Colony” was originally composed of the present towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, Westbrook, Deep River and part of Lyme. Westbrook (also known by the Indian name of Pochaug) was the West Parish of the colony. When it separated to form its own church, it was West Saybrook, the “Say” was soon dropped.”  So, Col. Thomas Westbrook had nothing to do with it!

            But more importantly, along with this information Margaret sent a copy of a photo of the Westbrook Cornet Band. She said that her group knew was not a band from their city and wondered if they ‘belonged’ to us. After searching our records and the internet, it was discovered (in an 1885-86 Maine Register) that this was indeed one of our bands. It was lead by Howard S. Babb and was located in Cumberland Mills. Thus we attained a lost piece of our local heritage along with new friends in Connecticut.

            This proves that there is still a lot of information to be learned and shared by our Societies...if we continue to ask the questions!



American Legion Post #62 was formed in October 1919 by 44 returning WW I veterans.  The Post was named for Stephen W. Manchester**, the first Westbrook man killed in that war.  The first meetings were held in the Armory, then in the Cloudman’s Relief Corps Hall and the Redman’s Hall until they were able to erect their own building.

The building was funded somewhat by the sale of Stephen W. Manchester Post #62 stock certificates, which sold at $5 per share. The beautiful two storied building was completed in 1929 on land at the edge of Riverbank Park; the land was leased for 100 years from the City.  This old photograph shows large metal eagles on each corner of the roof. Over the years these eagles have come off and the last one was found on the ground, in the snow. That eagle is now on display in the Historical Society museum.

The building has always had an active history. The first floor is used for Post meetings and functions and is rented out for local social events. The upstairs, completed with ceiling mirror-ball, and at one time a large stage at one end, was used for local minstrel shows, plays, school graduations and dances.  This room has been home for the Westbrook Historical Society since 2001.

**Stephen Walter Manchester was born in Westbrook on December 15, 1886 and entered the service on July 28, 1917.  His serial number was 147208.  Stephen was sent overseas on October 9, 1917. He was known by the nickname "Happy" Manchester, by his comrades in the 101st Trench Motar Battery. Stephen died on July 18, 1918 in the 103d Field Hospital, of wounds received in action at Chateau-Thierry.



Front row (left to right)—Rudolph “Rudy” Anderson (Captain), Harlan ”Red” Shane '34 (pitcher), Robert “Pete” Tetrault '34 (3rd base),  Harold “Jack” Harmon, Henry “Buck” Cote '34 (centerfield), Lloyd “Shrimp” Spiller '35 (2nd base),
Forrest “Stud”  King.
Middle row—Paul “Ginger” Fraser (Coach), Roland “Rollie” Tetrault '36 (short stop), Edmund “Tud” Waterman,
Albert "Fat" Bernier (pitcher), Wyman “Jack” Foster, Lawrence ”Joe”  Farr, Armand  “Danny” Daniel '36 (sub, catcher).
Back row—Millard Chaplin (Ass’t Manager), Edward “Eddie” Mayo (Manager), Leo Cormier,
Ronald “Ronnie” Jordan '33,
Philip “Harvey” Nelson '33, Joseph “Joe” Robichaud, Raymond “Buck” Cote, Neil “Neally” Leighton.


Coach Paul F. Fraser* made his valedictory bow at Westbrook High School in 1933, by molding a championship nine and leaving a strong nucleus for another team in 1934. Westbrook asserted its supremacy in the Telegram League by capturing all divisions of play except home runs and stolen bases. After an inauspicious beginning at the Warren League grounds, where they were beaten, 6 to 5, by Sanford, the team gained its stride and swept the opposition aside methodically to win the Telegram League pennant for the eighth time, winning eight games and losing two.

At Deering, the following week, in the midst of a sleet storm and bitter cold, the boys were victorious, 9 to 4. Robert Tetrault's home run in the first inning started the ball rolling and Forrest King held the Deering batters well in check for the remainder of the game.

In the final and what proved to be the championship game, Westbrook bent South Portland in easy fashion, a pair of errors and Westbrook hits contributing to the downfall of Kershaw, the opposing pitcher, to the tune of 6 to 2.

In the All-Telegram selections, Shane, Bernier, Cote and Spiller gained positions and Shane was the League's leading pitcher and batter. The school received the Telegram League cup and the Wilson Trophy. The boys later went to Boston as guests of the Westbrook Merchants. At a benefit game in which we won over the All Stars, 4 to 3, enough money was realized to purchase chamois jackets for the letter men and Coach Fraser.

Letter men were: Harlan Shane, Forrest King, Albert Bernier, Henry Cote, Rudolph Anderson, Captain, Lloyd Spiller, Robert Tetrault, Roland Tetrault, Harold Harmon, Wyman Foster and Edward Mayo, Manager.

[Taken from the Westbrook High School Blue & White 1934]

This photograph and the autographed game baseball were recently donated to the Westbrook Historical Society by the daughter of Albert Bernier, pitcher for the championship team of 1933.

*Paul "Ginger" Fraser came to Westbrook in 1922 to accept a position at the Westbrook Community Association. From 1929 to1932 he served as assistant football coach at the high school. In 1933 he himself coached not only this championship baseball team, but also the football and basketball teams at Westbrook High. When Coach Fraser died suddenly in 1938 at the age of 45,S he was eulogized as "a coach and athletic director, one of Maine's all-time football luminaries, teacher and youth leader". Long remembered as a local legend, the softball field behind Warren Library was named Fraser Field in his honor on July 22, 2000.


This photo of the Rowe Parts Department shows George Sullivan [a salesman] and Charles Champlain [the mechanic] tending stock. You frequently find old photos of the outside of businesses but it's not often that you find photos of the interior.

The Westbrook Garage & Machine Co. was advertised in Motor Age Magazine, (Vol. 18, Sep 1, 1910) as a recently incorporated Westbrook business with “a capital stock of $10,000 to buy, sell, manufacture and repair motor cars and deal in all kinds of vehicles.” The incorporators were listed as John T Skill, Alexander Spiers and William Lyons. The business was located at 609 Main Street on the corner of Stevens Avenue, in the same building that now houses Mr. Bagel.

By 1921 Westbrook City Directory listed the company President as David L. Rowe, with Raymond B. Rowe as Treasurer and William J. Rowe as Manager. This is the same year that they became dealers of Ford automobiles. By the 1929 the name had been changed to Rowe Motor Co.

In 1966 the business moved to their current location at 91 Main St. A merger with the former Portland Motor Sales Co. created a name change to Rowe Ford Sales.

100 years in the same a record of which to be proud!

Westb Garage
Original Rowe Motors - Charles Champlain, George Sullivan, Raymond Rowe, Owner

Walker Library
Walker Memorial Library, circa 1900



            The citizens of Westbrook (Saccarappa) saw the need for a free public library as far back as 1802. Books were gathered into a small circulation library that year. The Hon. Fabius M. Ray appears to have been the “librarian and caretaker” of this collection, giving his time as a librarian on Saturday afternoons, and housing the books in his barn. Around 1890 a group of citizens began to look for ways to raise money to purchase new books and to find a permanent storage place for them.  
            At that time Mr. Ray had a client by the name of Joseph Walker. Mr. Walker was a Portland resident, having moved from Saccarappa. He began his business career in the lumber industry and in such amassed a considerable fortune in Westbrook. Mr. Ray suggested that Mr. Walker donate, in his will, his considerable trust fund for a library to be known as Walker Memorial Library. The rest became history.
            In his bequest to the Town of Westbrook, Mr. Walker wrote, “My wish and desire is that the trust created for the benefit of the town shall be construed as an earnest expression on my part to promote the cause of education, and advance knowledge and information among the residents of the town, and I trust that said town in its corporate capacity will add to said fund, and assist, continue, and maintain this object in which I take a deep interest, and that residents of said town, knowing the usefulness and benefit which must result from efforts to promote knowledge and education among the people, will aid the same by their influence and means.”

  Mr. Walker died in 1891 and his executor Frederick Fox, took up the cause of fulfilling the extent of Walker’s bequest by finding a place and a design for the library.  Architect Frederick A. Thompson of Portland drew up the plans and the building design was described as follows:
            “The building will be constructed of light terra cotta brick, with terra cotta trimmings and a granite underpinning. The trimmings will be of brown, and the spandrels in the ornamentation over the doorway will be modeled. The roof will be covered with Monson slate. The building will be a story and a half structure, the upper story being used for storage and the basement for he heating apparatus and also for storage.  The main floor will be devoted for library purposes, and will be beautiful and commodious as well as perfectly adapted to the purpose.”
            When the Library was built in 1894 the land, building and furniture cost $40,000. The Library was built to house 15,000 volumes and had 4,000 volumes at the time of opening.
  In 1988 a much needed new wing was added to the Library.  Since then the collection has continued to grow and the Library continues to be a meeting and gathering place for the citizens of Westbrook.

The Walker Memorial Library was placed on the National Register of Historical Places on November 10, 1980 and was registered as a Greater Portland Landmark in 1994. The Library now houses a Local History Room and a Gathering room in the original part of the library where the beauty and planning of the original designers is still evident.
            The Walker Memorial Library has remained a jewel in the downtown area of Westbrook for 116 years; its beauty unsurpassed in any other building in the City.

JUNE 7, 8, 9, 1914


"Previous to 1814, Westbrook was a part of Falmouth... At the time of the incorporation of Portland, in 1786, up to 1814, Falmouth contained the present Falmouth, Deering District of Portland and Westbrook, as one town; even with the loss of Portland and Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth had become an unwieldy town especially in extent of territory. Its two parishes, the New Casco within the present Falmouth and the Stroudwater in this section, were the main cause of the division of the town in 1814. "
(Taken from the Official Program of the Commemorative Exercises of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town of Stroudwater Name Changed to Westbrook, June 9th, 1814.}

Just as the call for the first town meeting in 1814 must have been a time of celebration, so too was the 100th anniversary of that occasion! A forty page Official Program, complete with extensive history, and a Centennial Celebration flyer were printed by Westbrook's own H.S. Cobb Printer of Cumberland Mills; committees were formed on Church Observances, Music & Band Concerts, Children's Day & Exercises, Historical Matter & Exhibits, Parades (there were two), Bonfire & Fireworks, Decorations & Illuminations, Sports, Reception & Entertainment ...these are just a few of those listed in the Official Program.

The photograph shown here of one of Westbrook's shoe stores is representative of the wonderful job that the Decorations Committee did. Looking through the Society's collection, it would seem that every business along Main Street was decorated with banners and flags. It also seems that a photograph was taken of each establishment and most included employees proudly standing out front.

The Firemen's and the Civic and Trades Parades were also well covered by the photographers. There are many pictures of flag-draped horse-drawn wagons and automobiles filled with local merchandize and citizens. And, of course, the sidewalks were crowded with onlookers.

Let's hope that we're all as public spirited in 2014!! See you there!


1814 WESTBROOK'S 1914
JUNE 7, 8 & 9

Forenoon—Special Services in all the churches.
1:30 p. m. A sacred concert will be given at the new park, "Riverbank," by the Westbrook City Band.
8:00 p. m. All will unite in a big religious mass meeting at the Warren League Grounds. Address by Hon. Carl E. Milliken, of Island Falls, Maine, on "Good Citizenship." Music by Chandler's Band (accompanying the vocal numbers), also rendering instrumental selections.
7:00 p. m. Special services in the various churches.

Children's day
9:00 a. m. Beautiful Parade including 1500 school children, from Bridge Street Square to Warren League Grounds. Following the Parade there will be exercises by the children and addresses by two prominent speakers.
2:00 p. m. Baseball Game at Warren League Grounds. Old Presumpscot vs. Old Yarmouth
3:30 p. m. Canoe Races.
8:00 p. m. Canoe Pageant. Over 100 canoes will participate.

Our 100th Anniversary
9:00 a. m. Baseball Game. Portland New England Team vs. All Westbrook.
10:00 a.m. Grand Military, Civic and Trades Parade.
2:00 p. m. Dedication of our New Park, "Riverbank." Westbrook City Band will furnish music.
2:00 p. m. A Field Artillery Drill, by Naval Reserves, at Scotch Hill. Military Athletic Contest by the Coast Artillery and the Coast Artillery Reserves, followed by a Dress Parade by the entire companies.
2:00 p.m. Ball Game, All Westbrook vs. Maine Centrals, at Warren League Grounds.
2:00 p. m. Athletic Meet, at the Cumberland Mills Playgrounds.
The concluding event of the celebration, on Tuesday evening, will consist of the grandest display of fireworks ever produced east of Mass.

**To view more photographs of the Centennial or to read more information, visit our Collection at 17B Dunn Street **

Front row (left to right): Charles W. Bailey, Eugene M. Walker, John Wesley Bacon, Charles W. Mace, Joseph P. Ricker, Oliver Berry, Frank L. Parker, Calvin  S. Walker, William W. Hammond and Lorenzo Barbour.
Second row: George F. Hunt, Charles H. Hunt, Charles Hanscomb, Warren S. Flye, Howard Rice, Charles H. Leighton, George Dunnells, Bert Bailey, Neil Murray, Wendell Bailey and George (Grip) Hunt.
Third row: Leander Moody, Winfield Crowley, Walter Whitehouse, Fred Lord, Marsh Morris, Fred L. Leighton, Edward Rounds, Isaiah Staples, Charles M. Cobb and Henry Howe.
Back row: Samuel F. Wilkins, Edwin A. Barbour, Ernest F. Bragdon, Edgar A. Durrell, Ira T. Brackett, Louis Christian, Edward Fernald, Alphonzo E. Greenlaw, Frank W. Ricker, William E. Vanner, Frank J. Little and Almon N. Waterhouse. 

This picture was taken way back in 1885— one hundred fifteen years ago. It shows the crew of the old cutter and finishing rooms of the local paper mill, S.D. Warren Company.  At one time this company was the major employer in the area, employing close to 4000 men and women. The mill is still in existence, although much smaller, and is now known as SAPPI FINE PAPER.

Last year a relative of the Hunt men (seen in the 3rd row) requested a print of this photograph. She had a copy but it was old and faded.   Her old copy had come from the Portland Sunday Telegram of March 26, 1922.  The same photo again appeared in the Warren Standard, the Warren Co.’s monthly paper, in 1954, proving that you and your history do have immortality via the archiving of our local photos and information.

The captions included with each article give a wealth of information about these men.

11 STILL EMPLOYED, 15 DEAD (heading of photograph)
[The name’s of the men listed as still working at SD Warren  are written in bold type under the photo]

At the time of this publication further information is given on the following men:  Ernest F. Bragdon is living in Gorham, Edgar A. Durrell is still employed at SDW in another part of mill, Ira T. Brackett  is living in Buxton, Alphonzo E. Greenlaw is a prosperous farmer living on Stroudwater St., Isaiah Staples is living on a farm in Windham, Charles M. Cobb is proprietor of the general store at Cliff Island, George F. Hunt is retired and living on Lamb St., Warren S. Flye lives in Gray, Eugene M. Walker lives on a farm in the eastern part of the state, Charles W. Mace was foreman of the department for many years and is now retired and living on Main St. Mr. Mace was a representative to the Legislature in 1920. Oliver Berry has a farm in Standish, Frank L. Parker is with Patrons co-operative association in Portland



The man fourth from the left is the late Charles W. Mace who was superintendent of the finishing department when the picture was taken and who was succeeded considerably later by the late A. N. Waterhouse. Mr. Waterhouse was superintendent for many years until he retired in 1931 after fifty years of service to the Warren Company. He was the uncle of Leon E. Waterhouse, who recently re­tired after forty-five years with the Company, all of it in the finishing department.

We don't believe that many of these men have survived until now—but we are sure of one. He is Fred Leighton, the good-looking man sixth from the left, in the next to the back row. At ninety-two, Fred lives alone and does all his own shopping, gets his own meals and he still looks hale and hearty.

mechanic st

C.G. Gooding  Photographer  Saccarappa, Me.

This beautiful cabinet card, circa late 1800s, shows a view "looking down Mechanic Street" toward Main Street. It takes a while to get oriented to the location since the bare hill seen in the foreground of the photograph now contains parking lots and buildings. The railroad cars and tracks seen here have been replaced by Wayside Drive. The Armory, the tall brick building just at the end of Mechanic St., still remains and is an apartment building. The brick building to the left of the Armory is painted white today and Dana Mills buildings still stand in the background.

The white three-story house to the left of the street still looks about the same except dormers have been added and the white building behind it now houses a Chinese restaurant. All of the white buildings on the right side of the street were torn down during urban renewal. The old Universalist Church, with its pillared roof, can be seen just beyond the houses; that building, built in 1840, was torn down this winter to make way for an apartment building.

In comparing the scene of yesteryear with the scene of 2010, we find much has changed...but much has stayed the same.

Looking down Mechanic Street - 2010

In keeping with last month’s theme, and to enlighten those who believe that Westbrook was called a ‘mill town’ only because of S.D. Warren Paper Co. & Dana Warp Mills, here is a transcript of an article from the Society’s archives.  There is no notation if it appeared in a local paper but the photo that accompanied the article seems to have come from newsprint and was not of reproduction quality. (It is a photo of an “old Saccarappa Sawmill that was about 100 years old when it was torn down at the turn of the century” from its site near “Pork Hill”.) The mill scene photograph seen above is from the Ernest Rowe Collection which was originally photographed on glass lantern slides. The slides were digitized by the Warren Memorial Library and donated to the Society.   


This sketch of early Westbrook was written about the turn of the century by Mr. E. J. Haskell

Starting on the right bank of the river, the first mill on the upper dam was that of the G. & L. P. Warren Company. It was a saw mill and ran the year around. On the island was the thread mill, so called, filled with machinery for making cotton cloth. This mill was not operated in 1858. At the opening of the Civil War it was started as a paper mill, but ran only a short time because on a Saturday morning it caught fire and burned to the ground. There were also the ruins of another mill on the island.
On the mainland there was a grist-mill run by Mr. Bickford; next a mill for grinding plaster run by Mr. Allen, the father of Mrs. W. L. Knowlton; then the saw mill of Mr. Dana Brigham, and the saw mill of Mr. Samuel Clements. With that of the Warren's, these mills did a large business sawing logs into dimension timber and boards.
Next there was a shingle and clapboard mill run by Mr. Thomas Akers; then the old silk mill built by Mr. Vogel and run by him until it was broken into one night and all the stock and the silk stock taken. After that, the business was given up and the mill was used for making harnesses for cotton and woolen mills. This was operated, I think, by Mr. James Pennell.
On the other side of the river on the upper dam was a small mill making bats or batting from the waste of cotton mills, run by Mr. Stephen Cole and others. It was not operated much after 1858. Then came the mills of the Westbrook Mfg. Company, composed of one brick mill of five stories, a two-story building beside it, and a wooden building nearer the road, that was the duck mill, so called. This building was replaced in 1865 by a three-story brick building, the foundations of which are still standing.
The power for all these mills was generated by over-shot, breast, and under-shot wheels. I think the only under-shot wheel was used in the harness mill and that was run by the water discharged by the mills above.
The river was full of logs almost all the time. There was a main boom opposite the place where the house of Ovide Fredette now stands, a boom at Small's and one at Steep Ledge. There were side booms between these as well as below the main boom and between the dams.
The river was very uneven in its flow. In the late summer it was so low that men could go out into the bed of the river with rakes and hoes and clear out the channel so that the water would flow to their side of the river and keep the wheels turning. Then in late fall and in the spring it was so high that the mills were troubled with back-water.
As soon as it was sawed, the lumber was taken to the yards and stacked. One yard for the Warren mill was between Park Hill and the river. Another yard was the flat between Depot and Saco Streets on the south side of the railroad tracks.
The yards were well filled with lumber although teams of six and eight yoke of oxen with a span of horses as leaders, were hauling it day and night to Portland to be shipped.
The roads in the spring and fall were very bad. The wheels of the lumber teams would sink to the hubs even in the villages, and sometimes they were obliged to go into the fields to get out of a bad place…[area missing in article]…turbines. This meant taking out enough ledge at the end of the mill to make a flume eighteen feet deep and a raceway to the river below the falls.
The work of drilling and blasting, all hand work, was started in the spring of 1858. The agent being a stranger, did not know what wages to give the men. He called them together and asked what they thought they should have.  After talking it over, they said their work was worth 75 cents a day and they were paid that. These wages were not as low as might appear, as milk was 4 cents a quart, eggs 12 cents a dozen and butter about 15 cents a pound.  Everything was in the same proportion except sugar and flour, but as molasses and meal were quite generally used, it was not hard to support a family.
The hours of labor were about twelve in the saw mills and eleven in the textile mills.
This is a sketch of how mills of Saccarappa looked to a boy if eight in those times.


The Historical Society recently received this sepia-colored, cardboard-backed 8 X 10 photograph of the old Davis & Baxter corn shop of Cumberland Mills. The original owner of the picture was Samuel B. Ingersoll of 126 Forest Street.  Mr. Ingersoll had been employed as a sealer at the shop for many years and  he had made notes on the back of the picture... ”all cut by hand; women employees; now swim pool...”

An old newspaper article in the Society's collection shows the same photograph with the following inscription:

“...the corn shop, owned by Davis & Baxter, was located in Cumberland Mills on the    present site of the swimming pool...In those days the corn was cut by hand, women being employed for this task. On the opposite bank of the Presumpscot River on the present site of the “Elms”, ...stood the corn shop of J. Winslow Jones, believed to be the first man to pack corn in this vicinity.”

Westbrook's corn shop history is also  referenced in Fabius Ray's Story of Westbrook :

“ Nathan Winslow...belongs the credit of having inaugurated what is now a colossal industry in most parts of the United States and Canada, the preservation of food products in cans by what is known as the process of hermetically sealing. In this connection it is worthy to mention that the first sweet corn ever canned for the market, was so canned by Mr. Winslow in what was then a woodshed at Cumberland Mills...”


Front row
: Roland Pitres, Jean Rene Brochu, Raymond Hebert, Raymond Belanger, Jean Claude Audet, Robert Grondin, Phillippe Gagnon, Paul Levesque, Ronald Delcourt, Arthur Bonin, Paul Dufour & Laurent Landry.
2nd row : Gerald Delcourt, Robert Breton, Gerard Duchesne, Robert Landry, Amedee Chaisson, Robert Arsenault, Maurice Moreau, Aime Thibeault, Edgar Savoie, Aime Labrecque, Edmond Savoie, Leo Paul Pinette, Paul Bernard
Back row: Leo Pednault, Lt.; Leo Champagne, Cpt; Roland Gagne Lt; Willis P. Mitchell Patrolman


This photo from the St. Hyacinth Collection was taken on October 27, 1939. Members of the Schoolboy Patrol, organized that year at St. Hyacinthe and St. John the Baptist* School, Westbrook, stand proudly at attention.  The job of the Patrol members was to escort some of the children nearly half a mile, from the schools on North and Walker Streets, to Vallée Square where they would assist them safely through the traffic on Main St. 


First sponsored in 1926, the School Safety Patrol was one of ‘Triple A’s’ (AAA) oldest programs.  In the 40s and 50s Arlan Barnard was the ‘Three A Safety Man’ on Greater Portland radio.  The Patrol Guard, wearing the official white belt and a badge supplied by ‘Triple A’, would hold up traffic for students to cross the streets on their way to and from school. Later on girls were included in the Patrol. Westbrook schools continued using the Safety Patrol into the 1950s. 


AAA School Safety Patrols were mostly composed of boys and girls from upper elementary grades and junior high/middle school. The students were selected on the merit of their grades, conduct, and attendance. It was considered quite an honor to be one of those chosen to wear the white belt and safety badge. The length of time students served depended on the schools...some schools selected students to serve for a full year and others changed students on a monthly basis. The job of a Safety Patrol was to regulate the safe movement of school children in the immediate vicinity of a school. Patrol Guards were positioned on street corners to protect fellow students, especially the younger students, from the hazards of crossing roads. At some schools the duty of the Safety Patrol also included the raising and lowering the flag each day.

As school-age leaders in traffic safety, Patrols helped teach students about traffic safety on a peer-to-peer basis. They also served as role models to the younger children who looked up to them.


LET IT SNOW! snow2

The holiday season is fast approaching and the expectancy of snow is high here in Westbrook! What could be more fitting than an old photo, turned post card, of Main Street in winter. This photo points out some changes that have occurred over the years. Note that everyone is out shoveling their own snow... even down the middle of the street! Maybe it's to make it easier for the horse-pulled rollers to get through. [In those days they didn't 'plow' the roads, they 'rolled' and packed them.]

And certainly the snow is a lot more than we seem to get now. I always thought that I remembered really deep snow storms because, being small, even 6 inches of snow would be up over my boots; but this scene shows that those drifts really were monstrous!

But the greatest change seems to have been on Main Street. Most of these houses, buildings and trees are long gone. Can anyone pick out some landmarks in this photograph? As a hint, written on the postcard, in pencil, is the note "in the 1800s."

Anyone for the "good old days"?



In the late 1800s an excursion boat named the Sokokis was placed on the Presumpscot River by Captain Joseph Hezelton.  Its purpose was to carry passengers from the electric car terminus at Westbrook, 5 ½ miles up the river to “Horse-Beef” Falls [Mallison Falls] in Windham and back, a very popular excursion. The wharf at the Westbrook end was just above the dam at the Dana Warp Mills and up river there were two landings, one at the Falls proper and one at an old pavilion which was the destination of pleasure parties. The Sokokis made 3 runs a day, all days but Sunday, in the warm months.

The Sokokis, made entirely of cypress, was 60 feet long with a 12 foot beam and a 19 inch draft. She was built in Portland by Joseph Dow, a famous shipwright in those days.  Around her deck was a row of built-in seats and in the wide space between them were camp chairs for the tourists who often crowded her to her full 125 seat capacity. “The sail up the river was a beautiful one, for the river wound between densely wooded banks and the old boat often ran within a foot or so of the shore so that the trees overhung her as she passed.”

She was christened SOKOKIS in memory of the brave chief of the Sokokis Indian tribe, Polan, who in 1750, was killed in battle on the shores of Lake Sebago and buried there.  History says that the Sokokis were a strong branch of the Abanaki tribe and had their main settlements near the head waters of the Kennebec, Androscoggin and Saco Rivers and also another river not named on the ancient map of 1660, but is thought to be the Presumpscot.

The Sokokis had 8 successful years of service before the extension of the electric railway from Westbrook to South Windham. The railway proved its downfall since the cars proved more convenient and popular than the river trip. The river boat was move overland …a story in itself!* Stroudwater where it spent a year as a pleasure boat in Back Cove. After that she was sailed around to Portland Harbor and Widgery’s Wharf  where she was used for excursions  to the cod ground 10 miles out to sea.

In the late 1890s, when Portland Harbor was frozen over she was frozen to the wharf in a solid mass of ice. When the tide went out the poor Sokokis, encased in tons of ice, turned over and went to the bottom of the bay.  When weather allowed she was raised and sold to a New Jersey party for use as a ferry boat. Her fate after that is unknown.

* The difficult task of moving this large boat five miles across country was undertaken by  Lorenzo Knight.  With 4 pairs of horses and 12 pairs of oxen, all hired from surrounding farms, he accomplished the task after overcoming multiple obstacles.]



JV and Freshman basketball team
Westbrook High School 1951
1st row: Nancy Keith, Wanda Christensen, Thelma Robertson, Carol Brown, Angela Hardy, Bella Gresley
2nd row: Sally Percival, manager; Margaret Jensen, Dawn Tetrault, Patricia Christian, Diane Turgeon, Patricia Lampron, Jean E. Miller, coach
3rd row: Marilyn Woods, Beverley Lufkin, Florence Frost

A historical society means many things to many people. It may be seen as a library...or a museum...or a place where old things that no one else wants are kept. Maybe it's a place to visit or work when you are retired...or a place that you might go if you have nothing better to do with a morning or afternoon.
But how about...a meeting place?

According to the By-laws of the Westbrook Historical Society its purpose is "to bring together those people interested in the history of Westbrook, Maine, and to discover, collect, and preserve any materials and objects that establish and illustrate the history of the area."

Last year the Society received an e-mail from Jean Miller, an English teacher and basketball coach at Westbrook High School in 1949 - 1951. Now living in Arlington, VT after retiring from a long career in education, Jean was interested in contacting some of her former WHS students. Old year books and alumni materials that the Society had gathered over the years, were the sources for a packet of photos and some addresses and telephone numbers that were sent off to Jean.

Last month the Society received a note saying that Jean would be passing through Westbrook and would like to stop into the Society. Member Diane Turgeon Dyer quickly called several former basketball team members and invited them to join in the visit with "Miss Miller". Even though it was a holiday weekend 5 ladies showed up to swap stories and reminisce about the 50s and to bring each other up to date on their lives. A wonderful 58 year reunion was had by all! A meeting place it is!


Sally Percival Knight, Dianne Turgeon Dyer, Jean E. Miller, Pat Christian Currier, Phyllis Harnois Rogers, Joan Robie LaBrecque




Wilfrid Albert, Agnés Moreau, Marie-Antoinette Giboin, Léo Fortin, Albanie Carignan, Eva Bergeron

This picture of the class of 1918 is in the photo album ‘Graduations, St. Hyacinth School, 1899 – 1963’. The Society recently received the album from the disbanded St. Hyacinth Historical Society.  The album contains the names of the graduates of each 8th grade class as well as a photograph of them.  Every student is scrubbed, polished and in his or her best outfit...very different from today's graduation photos! The surnames are a testament to Westbrook's long and rich French Canadian heritage; any Catholic who grew up in Westbrook could probably trace their family tree in this album. 

Early on many Catholic Canadian families were attracted to Westbrook by the work offered by the industries in the area. One of the 1st Catholic families to arrive was that of John Graham who came here in 1854.  At that time the closest Catholic Church was in Portland and many a family walked there, with shoes in hand and lunch on their back, to observe the Sunday sacraments.

In the 1860s mass was celebrated in Cumberland Mills in John Brown’s brick house which is still standing and is marked as the “Site of the 1st Catholic Church service in Westbrook”. In 1872 mass was observed in the Warren Block at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets and in 1873 Brigham Hall, opposite Bridge Street, was used as a chapel. By 1877 a parcel of land on Brown Street was purchased and St. Hyacinth Church was erected. [In 1942 the original wooden church was replaced by a large granite church built across the street.]

In 1881 St. Hyacinth Parochial School (K-8) started classes in their new school building on Walker Street. [The first 8th grade class graduation was in 1899. The three students' names are listed in the photograph album but there is no photo: G. Auger, Rosie Welsh and Anna Labrecque.] This little wooden school was replaced by a large brick building in 1901. “The structure represented an outlay of $25,000 and contained well appointed classrooms. The nuns of the Presentation of Mary from St. Hyacinth P.Q. were installed as teachers.” [See ‘Photo Archives’ – Schools.]
            Some recent visitors to the Society talked about their memories of attending the school in the late 1940s and early 1950s:
            The girls had to wear a black skirt, a blouse with a very stiff Buster Brown collar and long brown cotton stockings. No one remembered special clothing for the boys.
            The classes were conducted in French in the morning and in English in the afternoon.  The Sisters weren't too strict as long as you behaved; although the nuns did seem to be stricter with the boys...they often got their hand hit with the ruler.
            At recess the boys were allowed to play on the field behind the church but the girls had to play on Walker Street. The recess was segregated but the classes were not.
            Typing was given in the 8th grade. When there was a test the nuns put brown paper bags over the students’ heads
so they couldn't see the keys. Diane Turgeon Dyer relates, “I have often wondered what anyone would have thought if they walked into that class and seen us all with bags on our heads!”

In 1963 the last 8th grade class graduated from St. Hyacinth School.  Grades 1 through 6 continued there for a few more years but the 7th and 8th grades attended Westbrook Junior High School on Main Street.



SaccFalls2 SaccFalls2

Photo labels: "High water at Saccarappa Falls, about 1875"...................................................... "on left is original Haskell Mill"

Saccarappa Falls, in the Presumpscot River on the west side of Westbrook, has been a hub of activity since the 1740s when saw mills, grist mills and lumbering pursuits occurred on the banks of the river.

In July of 1874 James Haskell, along with his sons Frank and Edwin, formed a company for the manufacture of silk…the Haskell Silk Company.  The business began in a wooden building on the west side of Bridge St., very near the falls as this photograph shows.  When the company opened for business in September 1874, there were six employees and only spool silk and twist was made. The Haskell Silk Mill was the only silk mill in Maine and one of the oldest in New England. This was one of the industries that carried the name of Westbrook throughout the entire country and attracted an industrious population to the town.

All of the silk used in the manufacturing came from Japan in the form of skeins. The skeins were quickly rewound and then underwent a procedure called ‘doubled’ before they were ready for the spinners. The silk was then reeled, dyed and wound again, making it ready to be warped and quilted, then woven into yard goods.  The inspection or “picking” followed before the finishing.  The “picking” of the silk was for many years done by women in their homes and this became a flourishing “cottage industry”.  

Over the years, as the company became more successful, the need to expand caused the company to move to a large brick building on the north side of the river beyond Dana Warp Mill. In 1881 the mill started to produce black dress silks and then later,  beautifully colored silks and woven silk patterns. At this time several hundred people were employed there.  The Haskell taffetas, with black warps and colored filling, were manufactured in large quantities and widely sold throughout the United States.

The founder of the Haskell Silk Company, James Haskell, died in 1891 at the age of eighty-three. He had become a prominent, public-spirited, and beloved  citizen  of Westbrook.

Due to drastic changes in market demands and the introduction of rayon and other synthetic fibers, the silk company was forced to suspend operations and the business closed in 1933.  The building remained standing and was used later by Sebago Moc Shoe Company.

[In 2006 the large brick building standing on the banks of the Presumpscot  was purchased by Westbrook Housing and made into the Riverfront Lofts,  which houses 44 residential units.  The lofts combine the historical with the contemporary: post and beam construction, high ceilings, huge windows, and polished wood floors recall the building’s industrial past while up-to-date amenities provide ease of modern living.  A wonderful use for our old buildings.]

Information from "Fabius Ray's Story of Westbrook" and "Highlights of Westbrook History". [Both books are at the Westbrook Historical Society]



Hubert Prior Vallée was born July 28, 1901 and died July 3, 1986. He is buried with his parents Charles & Katherine Lynch Vallée, sister Kathleen and brother William in St. Hyacinth Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine.

Thanks to Roland Tetrault for the photograph

July is certainly shaping up as Rudy Vallée month in Westbrook, Maine! On Saturday, July 25 the City of Westbrook will be rededicating Rudy Vallée Square and Eleanor Vallée (Rudy's widow) will be presenting the City with a bust of Rudy to be placed in the Square. [See the Activities page for a schedule of events.] The Westbrook Historical Society is gathering memories of the Vallée family from Westbrook citizens, to be shared at this event. Mr. Roland Tetrault, 92, whose mother's brother, Prosper Lenneville, was married to Rudy's older sister Kathleen, sent in his memories of the family as well as a copy of the photo seen above. Along with the stories and picture he shared his scrapbook which is devoted to Rudy's life.

The scrapbook, purchased at a local auctions years ago, was lovingly cut and pasted to form a collage of Rudy's personal and professional life. It contains pictures of his family, his college life, his love life (which he always admitted was extensive!) and pages of pictures of guest stars who appeared on Rudy's populare variety show The Fleischmann Hour. Snippets of magazine and news articles have been cut out and carefully pasted as captions under some of the pictures. One such item tells about Rudy being made an honorary cheer leader at the University of Maine for popularizing the "Maine Stein Song."

The following biography of Rudy's life, written in 1935, is included in the book: Rudy, christened Hubert, was born in Island Pond, Vermont [on July 28, 1901]. He was of Irish and French descent and received his education at the Westbrook, Maine high school and at the University of Maine and Yale.
        His youthful surrounding were those of the average small-town boy.  He worked in his father’s drug store and acted as usher in a movie theatre.  He might have stayed at his former tasks, were it not for his driving ambition – probably the keynote of his life.
        Always a lover of music, Rudy’s first lessons were from a correspondence school. His school days found him in a vacant room in the rear of the theatre playing phonograph records and taking lessons from a teacher. College found him making his expenses and starting a savings account from funds earned as manager of the orchestra which later became the famous Connecticut Yankees.
        Rudy’s hot saxophone became the talk of Yale and of New Haven.  The fame of his band spread and he and his orchestra went to London, where the Prince of Wales went into raptures over their music. Vallée made his radio debut in London, over the British Broadcasting Company's station and his moaning saxophone and voice made him the beau of London's feminine radio fans.
        Rudy and his Yankees, however, soon decided that there was no place like home and private engagements and night clubs offered them an opportunity to become known in New York. Then the National Broadcasting Company discovered this young collegian and after that he did better than all right
       Fan mail began to pour in and Rudy was soon hitting off the daily average of receiving 10,000 letters, 50 boxes of home­made candy, 20 boxes of flowers, 500 phone calls and messages and 6 to 10 cakes and pies. Some fame!
          As a singer Rudy [was] criticized and mimicked for years and although he had a considerable amount of coaching there is no use denying that he sang through his nose and that his tones were sometimes peculiarly flat. Nevertheless, it was reliably reported that during each broadcast 162 1/2  maidens swooned at his vocalizing, and entirely too many matrons thought that he is too, too divine; however, we must give Rudy credit for knowing how to enunciate so that every word was distinct and understandable. This, we believe was the secret of his singing success.

Because of Mr. Tetrault's thoughtfulness, a copy of this scrapbook will be available for viewing at the Westbrook Historical Society during the Rudy Vallée Exhibit on Saturday, July 25 from 9 - 12. The exhibit is free and open to the public as is the reception at 4 PM for Eleanor Vallée, William Vallée (nephew) and other honored guests. See you there!




Postcards…why do people save postcards but throw away photographs?  There is probably no answer to this question but every historical society is happy that there are Deltiologists out there! [Deltiology is the formal name for postcard collecting and it is the 3rd largest collectable hobby in the world, surpassed only by coin and stamp collecting.]

The history of postcard collecting says that the first postcard printed with the intention for use as a souvenir were the cards placed on sale in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.   I am sure that the first postcard collection was also started in 1893! 

The Historical Society recently received a postcard collection from St. Hyacinth Historical Society which is disbanding. The collection included many postcards of Maine historic sites but also some postcards of Westbrook scenes, such as the one pictured above. It is printed on a linen type paper stock with very bright and vivid colors; it looks almost like a painting. [1930 - 1945 was the linen style postcard era.] This card is unused, except for the '1936' written on the front. It shows Main Street lined with awning-fronted stores. Even with all the on-street parking, Main Street still looks wider than it is today.

Urban Renewal hit downtown Westbrook in the 1970s so much of Main Street has changed since this photo card. First of all, there are very few sites where you can park on Main Street. The Westbrook Congregational Church seen on the left has disappeared, along with most of the buildings around it. The first brick building on the left is still there, as are the two white buildings on the back right. The red topped building on the right with a yellow first floor is the Vallee Block on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. This building was the home of Vallee's Pharmacy, where Rudy Vallee worked part time for his father. Most of the other buildings on the right side of the street are no longer there.

Thanks to postcard collectors, we have a picture of a downtown Westbrook that no longer exists. And thanks to the St. Hyacinth Historical Society for assuring that this image stays in Westbrook.




The year was 1891. Sewers were being built on Lamb Street and electric lighting for Cumberland Mills was being talked about. It was in that year that the Westbrook Fire Department came into existence. Actually, if we go back to the town records we find that two hose companies, paying the men a salary of $3 per year, had been authorized by the selectmen in 1888. Just what happened between the time of its authorization and its apparent inception is not clear. However, we do see from limited records that much time and effort was spent in the purchase of teams of horses suitable for fire fighting work.

The first company to be formed was the Valentine Hose Company, housed in a wooden building on Mechanic Street. It was organized November 21, 1891 under the direction of Chief Charles H. Leighton but there were no fires during the rest of that year. The first fire on record which the Company attended was at the end of Brackett Street on July 5, 1892.

The second company formed was Presumpscot Hose Company 1S which was situated near 466 Main Street in Cumberland Mills, or as it was often called in those days, Congin. It was not long before the town realized the need of a hook and ladder, and in 1893 a company of men was formed. In that early time Ladder Company 1 was housed at the Valentine Station and the hooves of its wagon's single horse joined the clatter of the hose companies as they charged foward at the cry of "FIRE!"

By 1899, the villages at Saccarappa and Congin were in need of full-time firefighters. Charles Beesley was hired for Hose Company 1 and George Bennett drove the ladder. Volunteering has long been a way of life for the people of Westbrook and in particular the independent minded folks of Prides Corner. A hose reel that was stored in a barn belonging to Armand Wheeler, and later Harry Fielding's Blacksmith shop, was often hauled to a fire by whatever man and team happened to be close at hand. Later, in 1914, the Prides Corner Volunteers came into existence and were finally formed into Engine Company 3 in 1934.

As the century rounded the corner, the Westbrook Fire Department learned to live with the automobile. Many in those days worried that the gasoline engine could not be relied upon and wasn't nearly as dependable as a horse. The first fire truck in the city was a 1920 Reo. It was a chemical truck, that is, soda and acid where blended together and the chemical reaction formed a pressure that pushed the water toward the fire. The Prides Corner Volunteers had for its first truck a 1-ton Ford pickup. It proved itself unworthy, unable to climb some of of the hills in the area, and was soon replaced with a Lincoln town car that had been a rum runner's car in the days of prohibition. It had plenty of power.

Photo and information from Westbrook Historical Society's Fire Department Collection




The Westbrook Historical Society often receives requests regarding old houses…when were they built, who owned them, are there any photos of them, etc.  One such recent request asked for a photo of the house seen above, on the left.  It stood on Bracket Street before Urban Renewal tore it down in the 1970s. The Westbrook Congregational Church, who’s steeple can be seen in the background, was on the corner of Main and Brackett and was also demolished.

The request came from Toby Guimond who asked for a photo of “the old brick house at the end of Brackett Street. I grew up there as a kid. My grandfather Benoit Tardiff owned 11 and 15 Brackett Street. I remember the old stone basement and the hole in the wall that had a tunnel that went down to the river for slaves to get passage to Canada.”

This house was attached to the large building facing Main Street which later became the Lafond Department Store.  Fabius M. Ray’s Story of Westbrook gives the following account: “The large block on the corner of Main and Brackett Streets, at that time owned and occupied by Mr. Brackett as his place of business…had on its fourth story a large dark room. To this refuge slaves were taken….and kept there until a particularly dark night or a  good opportunity made it feasible to take the hunted black people to some place from which Canada could easily be reached…So careful were [Mr. Sewall Brackett, Capt. Isaac F. Quinby, the Rev. Horace J. Bradbury, and Mr. John Brown] …to keep their doings secret that even members of their families were in total ignorance…Mrs. Brackett was greatly mystified as to where her food was disappearing.”

Since no physical reminders of this block remain, it is only through writings and memories that this piece of Westbrook history can be passed on.




Memorial Day, Fourth of July, City Centenniel...all reasons for a celebration! And a celebration meant a parade and floats. Some floats were elaborate but others consisted of a little bunting added to a wagon and a group of girls dressed in their Sunday best.

The Westbrook Historical Society has many photographs of these events in it's collection.



Photo courtesy of Mike Sanphy

Sometime after 1885 Dr. Felix Barrett came to Westbrook and by 1891 he was an established physician and prominent citizen of the City. By 1909 he had established the Barrett Hospital in his home at 537 Main Street.  Dr. Barrett died April 27, 1920 and in 1921 the City Directory listed the site as the Westbrook Hospital. (Note the carriageway attached to the hospital in this photo.)

Many of the local physicans admitted their patients from Westbrook, Gorham and Windham to the hospital.  Its capacity was twenty-two beds and eight bassinets.  The hospital closed its doors in December of 1959 due to new safety requirements for sprinklers and wider stairways.

The building was later made into apartments and today the outside is well kept and closely resembles the original building, minus the carriageway.




"Westbrook Monument Co., Main Street 1925
Owned by Kenneth & Evelyn Gale; he passed away in 1929 "

By writing a caption on the back of a photo and then donating it to the Historical Society, an interesting image of downtown Westbrook is saved. Through this photo we not only remember but are also able to view a slice of our past. 

This wonderful snapshot identifies the long-lost business as the Westbrook Monument Co. It was on the Gorham end of Main Street in the 1920s.  Now take a closer look and an image of the City in that era immerges…trolley tracks running down the center of a cobbled-stoned Main Street. All vestiges of this business may be gone...but a photo helps us remember so pass on any old photos to your local historical societies or libraries




A century after this photo was taken in 1905, it was donated to the Westbrook Historical Society by Janice Boucher. It had belonged to one of her relatives. Don't you love the hair-dos and the jewelry? The photograph is on hardboard and is as sharp as if it were taken yesterday. No names are on the photograph.

Cumberland Hall was located in the Warren Block at Cumberland Mills. According to Fabius M. Ray'sStory of Westbrook, one of the great benefits that the S.D. Warren family gave to the City was a gymnasium. In the winter of 1903-4, Miss Helen Coe of Portland was brought to Westbrook by the Warren family to conduct physical education classes for girls in the old Cumberland Hall. Cornelia Warren, daughter of S.D. Warren, paid for the cost of this venture. Cornelia, as well as the rest of the family, was ahead of her times in her beliefs and actions on Women's Rights.

The benefits derived from the classes were so great that Miss Warren consulted with an instructor at the Young Men's Christian Association in Portland about equipping a regular gymnasium there. In the winter of 1904 preparations were started for a gymnasium for girls and the gym was completed about the first of March 1904. For the balance of the season the instructor came twice a week to give classes to the girls. A boys' department was added in March of 1905. The gymnasium was fitted with all the modern equipment and a small fee was charged.

The gym continued to be a focal point for local sports activities up into the 1970s. Tennis and golf lessons where given in the gym and many young boys learned and practiced their basketball skills in the Westbrook Community Association basketball league which was based in the hall. I remember going to the drug store or to the post office, both of which were on the ground floor of the Warren Block, and hearing the 'thump ...thump...thump' of the balls bouncing upstairs.




One of the reasons people visit a historical society is to reminisce about days gone by. At the Westbrook Historical Society they often ask us if we have any information on the minstrel shows ...maybe this is because we have our collection and meeting hall in the same room where some of the minstrels were once held. But whatever the reason, here is a little history of the minstrel shows in Westbrook.

Westbrook residents enjoyed the Minstrel show format of entertainment right up through the 1950s. The talented Libby family was well know for four of the local minstrel entertainers.  (They are always mentioned when the minstrel shows are discussed.) For over thirty years Stephen H. Libby entertained in black-face with vocal and instrumental numbers. He also coached many of the minstrel shows as indicated in the photograph above.  His sister Irene and brother Lloyd often performed in the cast. Later his son Philip S. Libby became a well known director and performer, "gaining recognition as a negro impersonator" during the evenings while going about his duties in the S.D. Warren Company during the day.

The typical minstrel performance followed a three-act structure. The troupe first danced onto stage then exchanged wisecracks and sang songs. Upon the instruction of the interlocutor, a sort of host, they sat in a semicircle. Various stock characters always took the same positions: the genteel interlocutor in the middle, flanked by two characters, who served as the endmen or cornermen. The interlocutor and the endmen exchanged jokes and performed a variety of humorous songs.The second act featured a variety of entertainments, including the pun-filled stump speech, and the final act consisted of a slapstick musical skit or a spin-off of a popular play



The Old "Presumpscots"

Front row L-R: Fred Files (Capt. Mgr.), J. Campbell, Arthur Smith, Chas. Elkins
Back row L-R: F.E. Batchelder, S. Clark Morton, Bill Webb, C.S. Clark, Gene Harriman

"Quite a Team !"
Highlight was game with Frederickton, N.B. played at St. John's, N.B. Won 2 out of 3.

[It is always wonderful for a Historical Society to receive an old photograph but it is especially great when it come with inscriptions, such as the above, on the back!]

Other Westbrook baseball players of note:

George “Piano Legs” Gore – born in Saccarappa in 1857 (there is discrepancy in his birth year
            and place, depending on which reference you read). He played for S.D. Warren paper mill team where he was known for his hitting…reportedly blasting a homer 450 feet.
            He played for New England League and the New Bedford Whalers, batting .324.
            He was offered $1,200 by the Chicago White Stocking, later the Cubs, but became the first holdout for more money. He asked for $2,500 but settled for $1,900.
In 1880 he lead the National League with a .360 average becoming 1st Mainer to ever win a batting championship. Set a League record by stealing 7 bases in one game.
            He was traded to New York Giants in 1887 and helped to win them pennants in ’88 & ‘89
            He was considered the Babe Ruth of his era.

Pete Tetreault – played professional and organized leagues for 3 decades, until in his 50s.
            1907 he played for Fall River baseball team in NE League.
            He shared birthday with Babe Ruth and in the 1920s played an exhibition game in Portland with the immortal Ruth.
            He was inducted into Maine’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975

Hormidas “Husky” Aube – lead Westbrook High team to Telegram Championship in 1926 and was a   member of college national all star team in 1930.         
He was a member of the New York Yankees organization for 4 years when an auto accident injury ended his career. While with the Yankees he roomed with Cy Perkins & Lefty Gomez. Babe Ruth called him “the kid”. 
He returned to Westbrook 1934 and joined the police force and later became the Chief of




A total solar eclipse, where the moon fully blocks the sun from view for up to 7 minutes, occurs somewhere on earth almost every year. On August 31, 1932 Westbrook, Maine was in its direct path. (See map below) This is a photograph of Alfred Turgeon (the gentleman in the front row in the "eclipse glasses") and his family preparing to witness the magical event. The glasses were worn to protect the eyes from the harmful solar rays but the person on the right was taking no chances and it looks like he has also included a protective basket shield! Although made of lightweight cardboard, the glasses were a treasured memento of the event. Some have survived the passage of time and at least two pair can be seen in the Westbrook Historical Society's collection

.NE path




This beautiful photograph of two men showing off their work place was developed from one of 28 glass-plate negatives recently donated to the Historical Society. A crate with these fine negatives was found in the attic of the “old Waterhouse” home in Westbrook and the negatives that seemed to be of Westbrook businesses were given to the Society.  (One of the Historical Society members identified this as a photo of the inside of the Knowlton Machine Shop.)

In the 1850s, the glass plate negative was developed for photography. The first negatives were called wet collodion negatives. The photographer coated one side of each plate of 1/8" thick glass with an emulsion of gelatin and metallic sliver. The plate was then immediately exposed and processed. This was the method that Matthew Brady used when taking his Civil War photographs. By the1880s the process had been refined to the dry-plate glass negative. These ready-made negatives could be stored before they were processed and multiple copies of prints could be made from each plate. This process greatly simplified photography. Prints made from these plates produced sharp, fine-detailed prints as you can see by the photograph above. You can see the glossy floors, the details of the machinery, the grain in the wood and the bright sun shining through the windows.  [It wasn't until 1888 that George Eastman developed the flexible material or negatives as we know it today.]

The Society contacted JUST BLACK & WHITE, a local studio that specializes in restoration of old photographs and negatives and had archival negatives and prints made of the slides. Thanks to the foresight of the discoverers of the glass negatives, these wonderful photographs are now a part of our Collection and the glass negatives are being preserved to prevent further damage.

What a wonderful gift to the Citizens of Westbrook!




It is hard to believe that something that we take so for granted, was such a big deal at one time! This is a photograph titled "First electric lights in Westbrook." The use of electricity for lighting purposes arrived in Westbrook in the 1880s. According to Highlights of Westbrook History, the first electric generator was installed outside the Leatherboard Mill on Main Street. On the day that the mill was to be lighted a large crowd gathered to witness this event. Many of the mill employees were members of the Saccarappa Lodge of Odd Fellows and they induced the owner of the mill to run wires across the street to light the Odd Fellows Block, thus creating the first business block in Westbrook to have electric lights. [Possibly this photograph was taken at the first lighting of that block.] The Dana Mill quickly followed with a generator. Mr. Dana later ran wires up Bridge Street to Main Street and lighted the square there. Soon S.D. Warren replaced their gas lights with electricity.... and the rest is history! What a wonderful photograph to have in our Collection!

(Note: This photograph was probably reproduced from a glass negative. More about that at a later date!)




Although the above picture looks as though it was taken in Scotland, it is actually a snapshot found in our Genealogy Collection and was taken in Westbrook, Maine. On the back, written in pencil, is: "The Cairns family - #1 Johnnie, #2 Jimmy, #5 Thomas, #6 Christie, #7 father". [The missing sons' names are William and Joseph.]

The Cairns family came from Scotland to work at S.D. Warren paper mill. Family lore has it that Mr. Cairns developed a process for coating paper and would not sell it to Mr. Warren until he brought the whole family to America and gave the sons jobs at the mill. They lived on Stroudwater St. where this photo was probably taken. It is obvious that they carried many of their native customs with them and the daughter of John Cairns relates that "he never lost his brogue".

Westbrook was a town of many mills and immigrants were lured to the area for their special work skills. In the late 1880s the Westbrook Manufacturing Company added on to their mills. The new machinery for mill #3 came from Scotland and with it, 42 expert Scottish weavers. There was even a cluster of houses built for them to live in; the area is still known as Scotch Hill.

For the last 2 years the Historical Society has presented an evening program on Westbrook immigrants. This has been a very popular program with over 50 people attending this year. These Immigrants helped built our city and many of their traditions live on.



With the advent of spring students get restless and look forward to summer vacation. This causes us to reflect on our youth and on classrooms long gone. Westbrook is fortunate in that although many of its schools have closed, the buildings have remained in use. In 2003 Vaun Born wrote the following article on Westbrook school usage


The old North School, built in 1812-1813, stood at the corner of Cumberland & Bridge Streets. It was moved in 1848 to a lot on Cumberland Street near the paper mill and converted to a private residence. It is still occupied.

  Valentine Street School was built on Main Street in 1850 as a grammar school and named for Peter Thacher.  The first high school classes opened there in 1873. The building was moved in 1885 to Valentine Street and so named, to make room on Main Street for a new high school. Valentine Street Grammar School closed in 1974. The building was converted to apartments and is still in use.  
  Westbrook High School, main building, built in 1886, was discontinued as a high school in 1955. It continued as a junior high school until 1976. A separate annex building at the rear was built in 1914. An addition on the main building was added in 1936 for a gym and headquarters for the City Recreation Department.  After the school closed in 1976 the Westbrook Historical Society used the 2nd floor for meetings and a museum until 2002.  City Council meetings were held in the separate annex until 2003 when the entire complex, except for the Recreation Department, was converted into senior housing by The Westbrook Housing Authority. It is now called Presumpscot Commons.  
  Bridge Street Grammar School was built 1881 with an addition in 1891.  Grades through 8 were held in the school until 1956 when the junior high classes were transferred to the old High School on Main Street. The grammar school closed in 1977 and a private contractor converted the building into apartments.  
  Warren School was built in 1885 for a grammar school but by 1973 it was used only for kindergarten classes. The last classes were held there in the school year 1982-1983. When no longer used as a school the building housed the Superintendent of Schools office. The building was later sold and in 2003 it opened as a Day Care Center.    
  Forest Street Grammar School was built in 1895. Classes through 8th grade met there until 1956 when all junior high classes transferred to the old High School. In 1974 about fifty students in grades 3-5 were transferred to the new Congin Grammar School. Grades 1-2 continued meeting there until 1982-1983 when the school was closed. Following its closure the Junior High Enrichment Center held classes there for a few semesters, then The Maine School of Ballet brought their classes to the building. The School of Ballet left in 2004 and the building was converted to condos by the Westbrook Housing Authority in 2007.
A time line for Forest Street School was collected in 1974: (see Forest Street School Notebooks)
1894 - School was built
1899 - Eight rooms completed and put into use
1912 - First drinking fountains installed
1914 - First piano is purchased
1917 - Electric lights installed
1923 - Library started
1927 - Rooms divided in two with barriers
1952 - Dewey Decimal System set up for library
1955 - Barriers taken down
1968 - Hot lunches offered
1974 - 50 students transferred to Congin School
1984 - Becomes the Enrichment Center
  Rocky Hill Grammar School was erected in 1916 after the original school burned. It was used only for kindergarten classes by the time it closed in 1980. It has been converted into a private residence, apartments and a day-care center.  
  Saco Street Grammar School was erected in 1868 (second building) and closed in 1953. It was used by The Knights of Columbus as a meeting hall until 2007 when it was purchased by The Fraternal Order of Eagles.  
  St. Hyacinth School , a parochial school, was built in 1893 and closed in the mid 1970s. It was then home to the St. Hyacinth Historical Society, the Westbrook Food Pantry and an occasional youth retreat. It is currently for sale. [The Westbrook Historical Society has a photo CD of all the graduating classes of St. Hyacinth School; a copy may be purchased from the St. Hyacinth Historical Society.]  
  St. Mary’s Grammar School, a parochial school, was built in 1916 at the same time as St. Mary's Church. It closed in the mid 1970s.  The building was purchased in 2008 and is being converted into business offices.  
Two other schools which are of historical interest to Westbrook:

Winslow-Boody House

A one-room school was built in 1852 by Westbrook School District #2 on the property of the old Bradley Meeting House on the “Road to Saccarappa”, which is now Capisic St., Portland.  (In 1852 that area of Portland was within the boundaries of Westbrook.)  The school was abandoned “before 1890”.  In 1902 it was converted into a chapel for the Eunice Frye Home, 37 Capisic St. The home and chapel are now owned by the Sisters of Mercy of St. Joseph Church.

Howard Stevens’ 1982 file on the history of Westbrook School buildings revealed that in 1794 school classes, taught by Robert Blair, were held in a room of the Winslow-Boody House on East Bridge Street. (The house continues to be a private residence.) Robert Blair then taught at the North School described above.

Researched at The Westbrook Historical Society, including notes from Howard Stevens’ 1982 file on the history of Westbrook School buildings. Compiled by Vaun Born 2003
[Black & white photos from Westbrook Historical Society Collection; color photos taken in 2003]




This is a photo from the Westbrook Historical Society's vast photograph collection. It shows the soda fountain in the Raymond and Marr Drug Store, circa 1920s. Markings on the photo identify Roy Welch behind the counter and George Wilson as the customer.

At one time Westbrook had many drug stores where you could go to catch up on the local gossip and get an ice cream soda, a sundae or a Pine Tree Float! [As I remember it, a Pine Tree Float was what we ordered to try to 'stump the waitress' was a glass of water with a toothpick floating in it!]

Some of the long gone Westbrook spots that had soda fountains were: Paine’s Drug & Miller’s Drug in Cumberland Mills and Vallee’s Drug at Rudy Vallee Square. In the Scates Block there was Scates Drug which was sold in 1914 to Raymond & Marr of the above photo. This later became just Raymond's Drug, then B and B Drug Store and lastly, Tommy Lachance's Pharmacy. In the same vicinity, at different times, were Hood’s Drug and Reece’s Variety Store. Today there is a soda fountain though!



Photo courtesy of Mike Sanphy; from the program Westbook Then & Now

The Warren Congregational Church and parsonage (seen to the right of the church) was on the corner of Cumberland Street and Warren Avenue until 1969. The church was chartered as the second Congregational Church of Westbrook in 1868; the first Congregational Church was on Main Street in Westbrook Village. [Copies of both church charters are on display at the Historical Society.] The church was erected on land adjacent to the S.D. Warren Paper mill. The land was donated by mill owner Samuel Dennis Warren. Between 1871 and 1874 the church underwent renovations and a clock, purchased by the townspeople, was installed in the steeple. This clock soon became known as "The Town Clock". In 1882 the parsonage was built on Cumberland Street behind the church.

When deterioration of the church's basic construction made it necessary to tear down the building in 1969, the parsonage was sold and moved about 2 miles up Cumberland Street to become a private residence.
The Warren and Westbrook Congregational Churches then voted to merge and built a new church on Main Street, the Westbrook-Warren Congregational United Church of Christ. This new church incorporated most of the stain glass windows from the Warren Church into its interior decor.


Note from the President, Westbrook Historical Society: BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER:

In April of 2007 the Society received an e-mail from Trevor Taylor of England. He was seeking information about his grandfather, Jonas Taylor, who he thought was buried in Westbrook and had been a pastor of one of our churches.

The Society's obituary archives held a copy of the Rev. Taylor's obituary which contained a picture of this 32 year old Cambridgeshire, England native. He had been called to serve as pastor of the Warren Congregational Church in 1916 and he served there until his sudden death June 22, 1921. A quick search of our cemetery records found that he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery under a beautiful light brown granite stone. Photos of the stone, a copy of the obituary and photos of the church and parsonage where Rev. Taylor would have lived with his wife Ethel and children Wesley and Ethel, were quickly e-mailed to this grandson who had never had the good fortune to meet his 'grandad'.

Also in our files was a photo of a stain glass window dedicated to Rev. Taylor that had been in the Warren Church. A quick trip to the Westbrook-Warren Church found the beautiful window, "In memory of Rev. Jonas Taylor", there in the sanctuary. This shows the purpose of a historical society!




Photo courtesy of Mike Sanphy; from the program Westbrook Then & Now

The Star Theater was built on the corner of Main and Central Streets in 1912. It hosted stage and minstrel shows until the advent of motion pictures when a large screen was built over the stage and movies were shown. Many a Westbrook child spent his or her Saturday afternoons at the Theater. Hubert Prior Vallee, later known as Rudy Vallee, worked as an usher here before going on to star in the movies himself. [A postcard in the Westbrook Historical Society' collection shows the Star Theater with the marquee advertising the Beautiful Blond From Bashful Bend starring Betty Grable and Rudy Vallee.] Rudy maintained a life-long friendship with Fred Eugley, his one time boss and long time manager of the theater.
The Odd Fellows Hall next door to the Star housed the Rialto Theater, later the Brook Theater. These theaters were on the second floor of the building and most adults today will tell you that they never went there, "my mother said it was a fire trap!" But they all went to the Star.

The Star closed in the 1960s because it couldn't compete with the new multi-seated theaters such as Cinema City built at Bradlees Mall. But the memories remain...12¢ tickets...10¢ popcorn...cartoons...the Flash Gordon & Tarzan serials ...continuous double features..........

After standing empty for several years and suffering a partial roof collapse, the building was torn down in 1974 to make way for Urban Renewal.

COMMENT: The Star Theater was owned by Odie Kourapis in 1971 when the roof caved in on the right side. It had been closed for some time. There was a risk of the building collapsing so they had to tear it down which took about a week. As sad as it was to see our day care go (theater), I am surprised that there are no pictures of it's demolition. Submitted by T. Reece 1/17/09



westbrook band

Front row: Ed Richardson, Fred Files, Joseph Hudson, Howard Wight, Melvin Knight, Wm. Hunter
2nd row: Irving Cook, Claud Lapay, Howard Babb, Leader Ed McLellan, Harry Bell, Chas. Dinzler
3rd row: Dan Shaw, Fred Babb, Peter Cooper, Chas. Bettis, Chas. Hurd

Westbrook has always been a 'band' town. The Old Westbrook Band (above) was one of the early bands in the City, adding music to the parades and the gathering of veterans and playing at political meetings and fairs. It was active until 1894. The Salaberry Band (below) was organized in 1884 by the Rev. Father A.D. DeCelles and was probably named after Charles Michel D'Irumberry DeSalaberry who had become a French-Canadian folk hero after the War of 1812. With the loss of the old band in '94, the Salaberry Band took over its duties and also gave concerts in Riverbank Park. (This practice continues today with Westbrook's summer "Concerts in the Park'.) Years later, as membership started to dwindle, many of the old Salaberry members joined the S.D. Warren Band when it was organized in 1936.

From the early 1900s when Rudy Vallee played sax in the high school orchestra, to more modern times when the Westbrook High School Marching Band performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Citrus Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl...Music continues to be a popular past time in Westbrook

salaberry band

Photographs from the Westbrook Historical Society Archives. For more information on Westbrook Bands see Highlights of Westbrook History




Westbrook has long been associated with the S.D. Warren smoke stack. This is a picture of the stack taken during its construction in 1926...note the staging still at the top and the writing still incomplete. Ellie Conant Saunders, a long time member of the Historical Society and a life-long Westbrook resident, remembers that while the stack was being built you could ride to the top in a "bucket" if you were brave enough. One of her young girlfriends, Marion Smith, did and she became the heroine of the neighborhood! [The Historical Society photo collection contains a few snapshots that were taken from the top of the stack by resident who took the trip.]

Excerpts from the May 1954 Westbrook American:
Towering 353 feet into the air it is probably the highest smoke stack in New England, a landmark visible as far as 19 miles away. Aviators from Bar Harbor, 164 miles away can see the stack without gaining much altitude. The stack is 25 feet around the inside of the base, tapering to a circumference of 18 feet at the top.

Smoke from the stack gives the big pipe another distinction. Generations of Warren mill workers and residents of surrounding towns use the stack as a highly successful combination barometer and weather vane. Forecasting the weather is easy; if the smoke is blowing up river it means bad weather is on the way. (This figures out soundly since ordinarily storms hit this area on the wings of a northeaster and if the smoke is blowing up the Presumpsoct River it means the wind is blowing from the northeast.) Weather prophet, landmark, navigational aid and symbol of the mill's high place in the papermaking industry, that's the S.D. Warren chimney.

Each letter on the legend WARREN STANDARD PAPERS was 6 feet high. It took 1,990 tons of brick, 1,200 barrels of cement and more than 5 months to complete the chimney. Both buildings seen in the photo are still there; the one on the left houses #9 paper machine and the ivy-covered building on the right is the Gate House. Still standing tall, the stack today bears the name: SAPPI FINE PAPERS, which bought the mill in the late 1990s. In the 1970s the mill was the largest employer in the area, having in excess of 3,000 employees; today it employs a little over 300.




Although the picture quality is not perfect...the family spirit is! This is a picture of the Jules Bernier family of Westbrook, gathered for Mother's Day in the 1940s. All seven of the Bernier sons served in World War II. Jules, Omer, Berton, Rudloph, Rene, Joseph and George...we thank you and all the families like yours who sent their sons and daughters off to serve and protect our country.
[This photo is from our scrapbook collection and appeared in local newspapers with an article stating that this was the first time in five years that the family had been able to all be together.]

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