About Ogunquit Maine
The picturesque little village of Ogunquit lies in theÂ southeastern corner of York County â€“ the southernmost and most populous countyÂ in the State of Maine.Â The name, roughlyÂ translated from the Abenaki (some say Natick) Indian language, aptly meansÂ â€œâ€¦beautiful place by the sea.â€Â BeforeÂ the coming of Europeans, the land was rough and rocky; its fields and forestsÂ were further from markets and shipping points than those of the York River toÂ the south and the Mousam and Kennebunk rivers to the north.Â Fishing was the chief source of income forÂ Ogunquit residents in the early days of settlement.Â These dauntless, self-reliant fishermen keptÂ their dories in the outer part of what is now called Perkins Cove, exposed toÂ and at the mercy of the erratic Atlantic Ocean.
Settled by the English in the late 1620â€™s,Â the area enjoyed relative harmony between colonists and native Indians forÂ several years.Â Eventually, however, asÂ is common with most early settlements, disputes arose, and the village wasÂ subjected to numerous attacks and massacres.
The entire Ogunquit area was once a part ofÂ the 5,000 acre estate of Sir Fernando Gorges, granted to him by the EnglishÂ King for â€œloyal service to the crownâ€.Â Â His descendant, Sir Thomas Gorges, became the first â€œmayorâ€ of the areaÂ and, out of a grant that was extended â€œâ€¦from the Cocheke to the Kennebecâ€Â rivers; he chose this southern part for his home.
The first church was built in 1642, and asÂ early as 1679, trading vessels left the pier at the end of what is now WharfÂ Lane for Boston and the Caribbean laden with firewood and lumber, returningÂ with sugar, molasses, rum and salt.Â AsÂ late as 1900, schooners and other large sailing ships could be seen coming andÂ going from this busy dock.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony, of which MaineÂ was the large northern section, attempted to lay claim to this vast GorgesÂ grant, but in a lawsuit in England in 1678, the crown sustained the GorgesÂ heirs.Â The Massachusetts Colony laterÂ bought Ogunquit, as well as the rest of the grant, and during the MissouriÂ Compromise of 1820, conveyed half interest in this wild parcel of land to theÂ new State of Maine; they later ceded the other half.
The first Post Office was established inÂ Ogunquit in 1826, and in 1879 it became part of a grocery store (formerlyÂ Maxwellâ€™s Store) on the south corner of what is now Berwick Road.Â The new brick building on Main Street, justÂ south of the town center, now serves as a meeting and greeting place forÂ residents throughout the year.
In 1888, a bridge was built across theÂ Ogunquit River providing access for summer visitors and residents to theÂ beautiful and vast beach area, and, in 1897, the Ogunquit Memorial LibraryÂ building was given to the Village by Nannie (Mrs. George) Conarroe in memory ofÂ her husband.Â This imposing yet elegantÂ fieldstone structure, listed in the National Register of Historic Places,Â remains a uniquely lovely landmark in town and well used by residents andÂ visitors alike.Â Also in 1897, theÂ Ogunquit Water Company was formed using dams on the Josias River and laterÂ large wells which were dropped in a field near Agamenticus Road.Â In 1901, the Mousam Water Company bought theÂ rights, franchises and property, and today it is operating as the Kennebunk,Â Kennebunkport & Wells Water District.
Around the early 1900â€™s, the streetcar wasÂ introduced to the Village of Ogunquit, and electricity became available.Â The townspeople petitioned an article to beÂ put in the warrant of the Wells town meeting (of which Ogunquit was then aÂ part) asking for street lights through the center of the village, but when theÂ article came before the voters, it was opposed by â€œâ€¦hollering and foot stompingÂ enough to shake the foundation of Wells Town Hallâ€.Â Needless to say, the â€œWells folksâ€ soundlyÂ defeated the article.Â The OgunquitÂ voters were â€œmadder than wet hensâ€ and entered a bill in the State Legislature,Â which, in 1913, gave them a charter for the Ogunquit Village Corporation.
In the spring of 1914, the first regularÂ meeting of the Ogunquit Village Corporation was held.Â There were twelve articles voted on at thatÂ meeting, including a sum of $350 for streetlights.Â The total amount appropriated for the townÂ budget was $2,867.
The early 1900â€™s also saw the formation ofÂ the Village Improvement Society to ensure that certain public services wereÂ provided to the burgeoning population.Â Â It managed to pay for most of the sidewalks first constructed on Main Street and set out trees along the roadside to provide shade and beauty.Â It saw to the maintenance and, for manyÂ years, the improvement of the Marginal Way, one of the Townâ€™s greatest assets,Â and along with the local branch of the American Red Cross, established andÂ funded the first life guard service on Ogunquit Beach.Â It also provided a â€œsprinklingâ€ system forÂ the townâ€™s dirt roads the keep down the dust for pedestrians and horses.
Veteransâ€™ Park in the Village Square wasÂ dedicated in 1967 to veterans of all wars.Â Â This lovely area with benches and attractive plantings provides a quiet,Â shady respite for strollers and shoppers.Â Â A similar area of shade trees and benches is available in the center ofÂ Perkins Cove at Rotary Park, a gift from the Ogunquit Rotary Club.
One of Ogunquitâ€™s greatest admirers was S.Â Judson Dunaway, a local philanthropist who loved this community very much.Â While walking around his beloved village oneÂ day, he noticed that the old â€œFiremanâ€™s Hallâ€, which in earlier times hadÂ housed the townâ€™s fire trucks and now the Ogunquit Village Corporation officesÂ where â€œmany hot debatesâ€ occurred, was becoming run-down and neglected.Â He offered the village a new building.Â The old Firemanâ€™s Hall was torn down and theÂ new â€œS. Judson Dunaway Community Centerâ€ was put in its place at a cost of $250,000.Â It was dedicated in NovemberÂ of 1974.
In 1979, the State Legislature passed an actÂ making Ogunquit, upon approval of its citizens, a â€œTown unto itselfâ€.Â In the local referendum that followed,Â Ogunquit citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor.Â This act, separating the Ogunquit VillageÂ Corporation and the Town of Wells, became effective July 1, 1980.Â Ogunquit has functioned with a TownÂ Manager/Board of Selectmen form of government since then.
While tremendous growth occurred in the 60â€™s,Â through the 70â€™s, and into the 80â€™s (the permanent resident population hasÂ actually decreased from that of the early colonial settlement), Ogunquit hasÂ managed to retain its charming qualities and has proven an enduring venue forÂ thousands of visitors year after year.
Today, Ogunquit remains essentially aÂ tranquil, small village where one can enjoy the simple pleasures at a peacefulÂ pace, no matter how crowded it may become at times.Â It continues to offer almost everything toÂ almost everyone as perhaps nowhere else in the country can: the finest stretchÂ of pristine beach whose glistening white sand flows wide and long; one of theÂ most picturesque small harbors, with its fishing and pleasure boats movingÂ easily at their quiet moorings and crowned by a unique draw-footbridge; theÂ quaint New England flavor of the Village Center with its countless restaurantsÂ and lounges, art galleries, gift shops, inns, hotels and guesthouses; awesomeÂ views of high waves crashing against rocks, and soothing views of gentle watersÂ easing up onto clean white sand; several fine golf courses and country clubsÂ nearby; the Ogunquit Playhouse which yearly attracts star names to its castsÂ of players; movie theaters and small repertory companies; boat rides, eitherÂ for the viewing or for trapping Maineâ€™s famous lobster or for fishing in theÂ deep dark sea; the exceptionally stirring and exhilarating Marginal WayÂ footpath which winds along a craggy promontory shadowing the vast Atlantic forÂ a sandpiperâ€™s view of the famed rocky coast of Maine.
Over the past 100 years, this attractiveÂ seaside village has evolved from a flyspeck of a fishing hamlet with dirt roadsÂ and weathered shacks to a major vacation resort without losing a bit of itsÂ charisma or endearing quaintness.