Kennebunk @ @Work Newsletter

Volume III Issue 2
April  2019

Editor's Update

In this issue of Kennebunk@Work, Rick Dacri recalls historical events at Durrell’s Bridge.

With the help of town historian Steve Spofford and Dan Sullivan we take a nostalgic look at some of our older business buildings.

Jonathan Johnson summarizes the plans for setting better “connectivity” for the town, along with borrowing an idea from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Laura Dolce highlights important support projects of the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport Arundel Chamber of Commerce.

And as always, we welcome new businesses opening in town. 
Editor: Steve Hrehovcik

Durrell’s Bridge circa 1884
Durrell’s Bridge circa 1884,  photo courtesy Brick Store Museum

The Rich History of the Landing

Drive across Durrell’s Bridge and you’ll likely see a lazy, flowing stream with sea captains mansions on one side of the river and belted cows and a boat building school on the other. What you may not realize is this was the site of long-ago Indian raids and the building of large masted schooners. To fully appreciate the rich history of the Kennebunks, you simply must understand what occurred in this area we call the Landing.

During the early 1600’s, the native population and the early settlers peacefully co-existed fishing along the rivers and ocean, but by the late 1600’s, Indian wars broke out, forcing many settlers away. In 1700, Philip Durrell came to the region and he and his family settled in the area of the current Durrell’s Bridge. Unfortunately, twice, the Indians raided and captured his family, burned his house and in 1726, killed his wife. Durrell’s victimization was liked a response to his taking of the Indian’s possessions.

During the later colonial period, the commercial focus expanded to shipbuilding, first along the Mousam River and then on the more navigable Kennebunk River. Captain Tobias Lord moved his building operation up the river to the Landing area, above Durrell’s Bridge. Hundreds of ships were built in the river’s six shipbuilding yards, fueling the area’s economic engine.

Today, it is good to reflect on our good fortune to live in an area with such a rich and colorful history.

Rick Dacri is a Kennebunk resident, retired businessman and author of the book, Uncomplicating Management. 

1 Fletcher Street, Smith &  Newall building
1 Fletcher Street, Smith &  Newall building, built in 1800

Oldest Commercial Buildings in Kennebunk

Dates and former/current locations of fifteen of the oldest commercial buildings in town dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s:

1767 – William Osborn Building, 10 Christensen Lane
1779 – Roger Ellenberger Building, 154 Port Road
1784 – Halo Property Partners Building, 108 Summer Street
1790s – Former Rambler’s Way Building, 119 Main Street 
1799 – Main House of The Kennebunk Inn, 45 Main Street
1800 – 10 Chase Hill Road Building
1800 – Van Hertel, 71 Portland Road
1800 – Smith & Newell, 1 Fletcher Street
1800s – Shepard and Read Law Office, 93 Main Street, also buildings next door
1810 – Brick Store Building, 117 Main Street
1807 – Anchor Light Property, 5 Fletcher Street
1810 – PR Holdings, 17 Main Street
1812 – Current Owens Farm Pizza Shop, 17 Main Street
1815 – Hardy Building, 115 Main Street, now part of Brick Store Museum
1830 – JJ Keating, 70 Portland Road

Contributed by Steve Spofford, Town Historian and Dan Robinson, Director of Assessments, GIS Coordinator

Four Workgroups To Cover  Connectivity, Climate Change, Creative Economy and Marketing

The EDC is off to an energetic start with the formation of four workgroups tasked to address some high importance goals identified in the Strategic Economic Development Action Plan (SEDAP) for 2019. The workgroups are:

  • Connectivity

  • Climate Change

  • Creative Economy

  • Marketing

The members of the EDC were in agreement that forming these workgroups in order to focus our efforts to drive economic development was the direction to take this year.   
I like to sum all this up with a fun play off of the world’s most famous equation E=MC^2 but we had no choice but to cube the C to make it work! In our case the equations looks like: E=MC^3:  E (economic development) = M (Marketing) and C^3 (Connectivity, Climate Change and Creative Economy).
The Connectivity workgroup will focus on how to improve broadband and cell service in the town. We believe this is crucial to the continued success of current businesses and schools, in addition to its significance to attract new businesses to Kennebunk.
Stay tuned... Future newsletters will cover the other workgroups.

Did you know the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel Chamber of Commerce Contributes to our Economic Growth?

The Kennebunk Kennebunkport and Arundel Chamber of Commerce contributes to the EDC and works to support local businesses. But did you know we also raise funds for families in need? Or maintain a free, local food pantry? I bet there’s a LOT you don’t know about your local Chamber.

Did you know we:

  • Hold a community job fair, co-sponsoring with town, each March; debuted successful senior job fair at The Center in 2018. Our second took place on April 2.
  • Send out a weekly newsletter that informs on issues such as tip credits, wages, hiring, visa employment issues, local seminars; includes a local business highlight.
  • Spend between $10-20,000 a year marketing the Kennebunks through various platforms, including social media, digital, print and more.
  • Hold annual non-profit fair, CONNECT, in Kennebunk
  • Our Nonprofit Committee is currently working with the EDC on a survey of area nonprofits
  • Our LAUNCH! festival not only helps residents learn more about our local history, but brings thousands here to stay in accommodations, eat and shop here (events are economic drivers, FYI) and help people discover Kennebunk as a place to live and play
  • Ninth largest chamber in the state (only one that is NOT regional) with more than 530 members
  • The Chamber has for decades organized the business trick-or-treating in our community – a service to residents and their children
  • The Chamber created Pajama Shopping Day three years ago to encourage people to shop local during the holiday season. Downtown Kennebunk is our biggest success story, with people lining up at 6:45 a.m. to shop.
  • The Chamber brought the first-ever Prelude event to downtown Kennebunk (the only event outside the KBA area, it is co-sponsored by the town and the Coast Star and draws hundreds).
  • Maintain a free food pantry for the people of Kennebunk; it receives daily use.
  • Collected $3,000 in gift cards to help support local Coast Guard, TSA, Homeland Security and other families affected by the government shutdown; distributed to funds to more than a dozen families.
  • Largest drop location for Kennebunk Cares Closet, with drop-offs daily
  • Through partnership with member businesses, we’ve been able to provide more than $8,000 to local families in need.
  • Worked with local Rotary Clubs, rec departments and private donors to purchase two beach wheelchairs – one for Kennebunk and the other for Kennebunkport, debuting in 2018. We are currently raising funds for two in-water floating chairs.
Contributed by Laura Dolce, Executive Director, KKA Chamber of Commerce

Kennebunk: Certified Business-Friendly

Welcome to new business activities…

Kennebunk became a “Certified Business-Friendly Community” from Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development in 2013. The town continues to welcome new businesses and help existing businesses provide valued services and products to our residents and visitors.
We are pleased to welcome the following businesses that opened since our last newsletter:

Seacoast Soundings - 99 York Street, Unit 5, Research, education non-profit multi-media publishing company, Owner: Nancy Ford

Sweetfern Center For Wellbeing - 58 Portland Road, Unit 4, Reiki therapy/wellness/salt therapy; Owner: Tammy Traniello

Sweetgrass Kennebunk - Maine Art Hill #4; 5 Chase Hill Road, Retail tasting room & shop, Owners: Keith & Constance Bodine

Compiled by: Tabetha Barden, Town Clerk’s Office  

The EDC meets the first Thursday of each month at 5 PM in the Town Hall, with the exception of July when there is no meeting. Meetings are open to the public and we welcome your participation. Let us know your concerns and suggestions to help make Kennebunk a great place to live, raise family and do business.   

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