History of Arundel...




Eastern Railroad (1920's) which ran through Arundel.
Sections of the old rail bed now comprise parts of the Eastern Trail.



Cape Porpus from 1653-1719

Arundel from 1719-1821

Kennebunkport from 1821-1915

North Kennebunkport from 1915-1957

Arundel since 1957

Arundel was originally part of the area known as Cape Porpoise. Early land grants and deeds from the seventeenth century describe Cape Porpoise as extending between the Batson and Mousam rivers. In 1681, a written description of the town’s boundaries was prepared. Cape Porpoise had lost and gained land, shifting to the east. The town extended eight miles inland, between the Kennebunk and Little rivers. Livelihoods were gained from fishing, farming, and building masts for ships. There is today evidence of the earliest sawmills and gristmill.

In 1681 the first Mill Grant was issued and along River Road, 100-acre lots were deeded. At this time as well, Native Americans, believed to be Micmacs, inhabited the area. From the region of Walkers Lane, where Route One now crosses the Kennebunk River, south to the area where Goff Mill Brook crosses River Road, near the Cape Arundel Golf Course, there were at least five mills and a brickyard. Most of the mills were saw mills, but one became a fulling mill where thread was made from cotton and the Goff’s Brook Mill became a gristmill.

An area along the Kennebunk River was known as the Indian Planting Ground. Prior to 1680, it is believed the Native Americans used this as their summer residence.

As would be expected, fishing was a prominent livelihood of these early residents. Boat building was a major trade as well. Some very large boats came from the boat yard along the river. Locks were set in place at various points, the intent being to allow construction of larger ships at the boat yards. These early industries thrived along the Kennebunk River well into the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

The Indian Wars, 1680 to 1720, caused evacuation of the town. After the hostilities ended, the town was reestablished with the new name Arundel. Each returning settler was given a parcel of land in return for providing needed skills and service. Within a few years a major settlement was created by giving 100-acre lots to sons and other young men on the Saco Road, now known as Route 1A. This created a buffer between the old village (Kennebunkport), and the Native Americans, while providing the young families with gifts of land. The community built a garrison on the Saco Road to further protect them from raids. As the town became more secure, settlement extended upstream along the river.

Also during this time period, a conflict arose with land titles. On the northeast town line was what is now named Biddeford. Biddeford grants started at the Saco River and ran southwest four miles, coming well into Arundel and conflicting with the new grants here. The courts ruled that the Biddeford owners still owned the land by prior rights, but that it was now Arundel and the taxes were payable to Arundel. This accounts for the number of lots in town with long southwest property lines.

As families settled farther away from the coast, their means of livelihood reflected the differing environments. These residents were primarily engaged in farming and lumbering and the large tracts of undeveloped land typical of these lifestyles are still very evident west of the turnpike.

As the northwestern part of the town continued to attract residents, cultural amenities followed. A Baptist church was built on the parcel which currently houses the Town Hall. The structure, which currently serves as the Town Hall, was originally erected in the late 1800’s as a social hall known as Parvo Hall.

In 1820, Maine was separated from Massachusetts and became a state of its own. The first Maine Legislature approved the town’s request for a name change and Kennebunkport became the official name.

Until the construction of the railroad, there was a settlement area along the Burnham Road. One of Arundel’s five one-room schoolhouses, built in 1868 and a church were located there. These schools were used until the Arundel Elementary School, now called the Mildred L. Day Memorial School, was opened in January 1960. Other school houses were the Iron Bridge School located on Route 1A, the Durrell School, where the present Central Fire Station is located, the North Chapel School on Alfred Road, and the Irving School on the Curtis Road. These were typical one-room schoolhouses at which children in the area received their primary education. These schools changed little until the 1950’s when the fifth and sixth grades were taught at the North Chapel School and the seventh and eight at the Durrell School. Also, in the fifties, indoor plumbing became a reality. Three of the schools are still in existence today, two as residences (the Burnham School House and  the Irving School House, both in their original locations) and one as a garage (the Durrell School House).

During the late eighteen hundreds, the railroad arrived in southern Maine. This had two effects on Kennebunkport. The settlement along the Burnham Road split in two and eventually disappeared. The schoolhouse remains, but is privately owned. The railroad also brought "summer people", and contributed to the development of the coastal portions of the town.

By the turn of the century, the farmers and others in the rural portions of the town felt they should not have to pay increased taxes to support services in the Cape Arundel area. The Legislature agreed to a separation, creating two towns, with the split becoming effective at the 1916 town meeting. The new municipality was called North Kennebunkport.

Shortly after this time, a new highway, the New Post Road, which we know as Route One, was built to straighten out the Old Post Road. Campground Road was constructed to connect the new state road with the Limerick Road, a county road. The Campground Road received its name due the to existence of religious retreats in this area.

North Kennebunkport was a rural town made up mostly of farms. Its population in the 1920 Census, the first it appears in as a separate town, was 564. It remained steady during the roaring twenties, increased dramatically (60%) during the depression decade, and remained fairly constant until the 1960’s.

In 1957, the town voted to change its name back to Arundel. Being the rural portion of a previous town, Arundel had no center of population or economic activity. Citizens traveled to neighboring population centers to purchase goods and services. The increasing proportion of the population not dependent on farming or forestry for their income also traveled to jobs in these areas. In the past thirty years, it has been transformed from a rural town of dairy farmers to a "suburban" community for workers in neighboring areas.