Kennebunk @ @Work Newsletter

Volume 1 Issue 1
July 2017

Economic Development Committee Chair, Robert Georgitis


to our refreshed newsletter format. We hope that you find this entertaining and informative as we weave some new economic news with some history of our wonderful community. 

Robert Georgitis 
Economic Development Committee Chairman

Editor's Introduction

Allow me to introduce you to Kennebunk@Work, the updated newsletter of Kennebunk’s Economic Development Committee. As the “Only Village In The World So Named,” Kennebunk enjoys a rich past, a dynamic present and exciting future. Our newsletter will focus on how our business community has evolved over the years and looks ahead to the contribution it makes to our citizens, the town and neighbors.

You’ll find information about our past, present and future in brief articles written by knowledgeable writers – many you may know. It’s our hope you’ll find some valuable insights and useful data about Kennebunk, along with “fun-facts.” Kennebunk@Work will be distributed quarterly to subscribers of the town’s website and made available online for viewing. To be sure you don’t miss future issues, sign up to receive notifications from the Town, where you can subscribe to updates from the Economic Development Committee. We welcome your comments and observations.
                                                                                              Steve Hrehovcik, Editor

Kennebunk - A Town with Multiple Personalities

1. Historic: Major streets with mansions built during the shipbuilding era
2. Beaches: Gooch’s Beach, Middle Beach, Mother’s Beach & Parsons Beach
3. Downtown: Retail shops, offices, banks, restaurants, inn, town offices, Waterhouse Pavilion, library
4. Route 1, North: Post office, shopping center, heath, fitness and beauty facilities, restaurants, banks
5. Route 1, South: “Home Improvement Mile,” auto services
6. The Landing: Wedding Cake House, Durrell’s Bridge
7. Lower Village: Shops, restaurants, Franciscan Monastery
8. West K: Classic homes, post office, convenience store, health center, restaurant, hotel

Early business development in Kennebunk 

In Kennebunk, the shipbuilding industry had a significant impact on the community. Many occupations revolved around the sea: some built ships and loaded them; some sailed to domestic and foreign destinations. Even if a family did not work at a shipyard, they were intrinsically linked to the shipbuilding economy. For instance, coopers made barrels for carrying trade products, and farmers supplied food, ice and hay that were shipped all over the world.

Ship construction on the Kennebunk River
Ship construction on the Kennebunk River

From 1800-1900, it is estimated that there were more than 400 ships built on the Kennebunk River in Kennebunk Landing and later in Kennebunkport.

Construction of ship's deck on the Kennebunk River
Construction of ship's deck on the Kennebunk River

Between 1780 and 1830, yards were established at ten different sites. Some were owned by shipwrights like John Bourne while others were owned by merchants like James Titcomb, who hired builders. An exact count of the number of shipyards is not clear; the sites were used over and over again by different (sometimes generational) owners and builders, and the boundaries of the yard sites overlapped. 

Citizens watch a ship's launch on the Kennebunk River
Citizens watch a ship's launch on the Kennebunk River

The 1850's and 1860's marked the true beginning of modern manufacturing in Kennebunk. In 1851, the Warp Mill was built to spin cotton yarn but only lasted a few years. It was remodeled in 1865 and leased by Solomon Hewitt, for manufacturing yarns, twines, carpet warps and wicking. In 1852, John Ferguson started his sash and blind factory in the old Pierson tannery buildings, onto which he made many additions.  

Women working at Goodall Matting Company
Women working at Goodall Matting Company
Workers in front of Kesslen Shoe building
Workers in front of Kesslen Shoe building

In 1927, in its first year in business in Kennebunk, Kesslen Shoe Company shipped over 254,000 pairs of shoes to retailers across the country.

Workers at Kesslen Shoe Company
Workers at Kesslen Shoe Company

Early Business Development in Kennebunk, compiled by Cynthia Walker, Executive Director, The Brick Store Museum, 117 Main Street, Kennebunk, Maine 04043
(207) 985-4802

A Snapshot of Kennebunk Beach, 1850 to Present

By Valerie Marier

Kennebunk Beach has attracted visitors from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, Quebec and beyond since the mid-1800s. Accelerating the growth in tourism was the Boston & Maine Railroad system which, in the 1870s, opened a branch line into Kennebunk village and then another, in 1882, from the village to the beaches. Wooden boarding houses and grand hotels rose along the water’s edge to accommodate this influx of visitors, many who arrived with steamer trunks and stayed for several weeks, if not the entire season, July 1st through Labor Day. During the Kennebunk area’s heyday in the early 1900s, there were more than 40 hotels and inns in Kennebunk Beach and Kennebunkport.

Kennebunk Beach vintage postcard
This postcard, circa 1950 shows Gooch’s Beach and the many hotels serving vacationers visiting Kennebunk. Except for the Narragansett, the large brown building in the lower left, the hotels were torn down and replaced with private homes. The Narragansett was built in 1905 and converted to condominiums in 1984.   
Vintage postcard courtesy of Kennebunk Town Clerk, Merton Brown

By the 1950s, however, a new type of tourism was taking a toll. In this post-World War II era, workers often only had two week vacations. The family automobile replaced train travel, allowing visitors to “day trip” up the recently-opened Maine Turnpike to stay at newly-built “motor courts,” which featured private baths, a facility the old hotels lacked. Many of the original wooden hotels had closed, some having burned to the ground. This once almost entirely commercial beach yielded to the reality of rising land values. 
Today only two hotels remain as the last commercial establishments at Kennebunk Beach. The sprawling Seaside House complex was converted in the late 1960s to a 22-unit motel. Guests still enjoy the proximity perk of being a stone’s throw from Gooch’s Beach. On Middle Beach, the former Sundial is now known as the Beach House. This yellow-clapboard hotel, designed by local architect William Barry in the late 1890s, no longer serves lunch on tables at the beach as it did in the 1950s, but overnight visitors enjoy the exact same view and smell the same sea air that guests have enjoyed for more than a century.

Valerie Marier writes a weekly blog, Wandering With Val 

Main Street, U.S. Route 1 and Prohibition

Our town’s Main Street also serves a U.S Route 1, which stretches 2,369 miles from Fort Kent, Maine on the Canadian border, to Key West, Florida. During Prohibition in the United States (1920-1930), Route 1 earned the dubious distinction as a favored thoroughfare for bootleggers from Canada eager to satisfy thirsty Americans with alcoholic beverages.
Paula Noyes Singer, who grew up in Kennebunk, describes an event that happened to her parents during Prohibition in her memoir When There’s No Wind, Row (available on Amazon).

Gas station on Route 1 during prohibition
Gas station on Route 1 during prohibition

“My parents owned Wonderbrook Filling Station which included a way-side stand in a building that used to be the farm’s creamery. Their business card read, “Pan-AM Oil and Gas: ice cream, drinks, and light lunches.” It was the first gas station in Kennebunk and the only gas station on Route 1 between the New Hampshire border and Portland for some time, so business was very good.
“During prohibition Maine made an excellent entry point for smuggled booze because of the state’s many isolated coves and inlets. One prominent Kennebunk family made their fortune bootlegging. Many bootleggers transported their illegal cargo down Route 1 and out of state by car.

“My father told us about the time a large black car pulled into the station. Two suspicious looking men got out and proceeded to take the car apart as my parents watched from inside the building. They unloaded boxes of booze, took the Coke out of the big red cooler outside the building, put the booze in the cooler and covered it with the Coke. Then they put the car back together. A short time later a police car pulled in and two policemen got out. They took the bootlegger’s car apart looking for the booze. When they didn’t find anything the policemen left. When the police disappeared down the road, the bootleggers reloaded the car with the booze and put the Coke back in the cooler. After they left, my father found a $20 bill – almost two weeks’ pay - on top of the Coke in the cooler.”   

Information and Statistics about the
Business Community of Kennebunk

Top 9 Taxpayers as of April 1, 2016 

Top Nine Taxpayers As of April 1, 2016



20 Largest Employers in Kennebunk

List compiled by Joel Downs, Finance Director, Town of Kennebunk
20 Largest Employers in Kennebunk

A warm welcome to new business activities…

Kennebunk became a “Certificate 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 have opened or will open in Kennebunk in 2017:

Apex Aerial Imagery – Drone: 125 Alfred Street, Owner: Aaron E. Shuffleburg 

Brooke King Hair – Hair Care Services: 14 Garrison Oaks Drive, Owner: Brooke King

FVM Services – Construction & Crafts: 79B Old Port Road, Owner: Frieda Slowik 

Hally Images – Photography: 2 Morning Walk Lane, Owner: Kathy Hally

Hampton Inn - Hotel: 6 Independence Drive, Owner: Kennebunk Port, LLC

Imaginations Hair Salon – Hair Salon: 116 Alfred Road, Owner: Denise F. Keohan

Kennebunk Glass LLC – Glass: 116 Alfred Road, Owner: Alana Howe

Nikale Clough – Bookkeeper: 20 Sedgewood Drive, Owner: Nikale Clough 

Stradistar – Online Retail: 55 Mill Street, Owner: Louie Desnhrais

Table of Seven Family Restaurant – Restaurant: 102 York Street, Owners: Shane & Erica Lavalley

The Academic Edge – Tutoring: 1 High Street, Owner: Susan Thombs

Wassail, LLC – Wine Tasting Room: 8 Western Avenue, Unit 5, Owner: Ben Alexander

Woodsman Electric, LLC – Electrical: 84 Quinn Lane, Owner: Michael Dumas
Coming soon: Garden Street Bowling and Northeast Coating expanding to former Heartwood College building
List compiled by Town Clerk’s Office 

The Contribution of the Arts to Kennebunk

By Wendy Webster Good, President of the Art Guild of the Kennebunks

The arts have long established themselves as a vital part of the life of any community and The Art Guild is proud to be involved in this on-going tradition. Through group exhibits and individual demonstrations, our artists offer their creations of personal expression, whether in oils, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, sculpture, photography and other media. We are fortunate to live in such scenic surroundings that inspires our works and invites residents and visitors to support our efforts.

As professional members of the 36-year old Art Guild of the Kennebunks, in addition to promoting our own artistic efforts, we recognize our responsibility to encourage youngsters with artistic potential. To accomplish this, the AGK offers scholarships to deserving students of local schools. To fund the AGK scholarship we raffle one of our artist works of art each summer.
We look forward to continue this relationship with the community and to provide the highest standard of works by our artists.

Art Guild of the Kennebunks
To fund scholarships for future artists, the Guild raffles a painting by a member artist. Last year’s raffle featured the painting “Garden Party” by Nadine Schoepfle. Raffle tickets are available at our exhibits that take place during the summer months.

Meet your Economic Development Committee members 

The members of the Economic Development Committee volunteer their time and offer their professional experiences to help build a healthy business climate in Kennebunk. Their backgrounds include: engineering, construction, financial, inn-keeping, non-profits and the arts. Some have been on the committee for more than a dozen years.

The committee meets the first Thursday of each month at 5:00 p.m. at Town Hall.
Regular participants in meetings include representatives from the Board of Selectmen, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel Chamber of Commerce, Kennebunk Light and Power District, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells Water District and Conservation Committee.

Join us! Visitors are invited to attend meetings. You can sign up via the Town's website to receive email or text message alerts when an agenda or minutes are posted for the Economic Development Committee. 

Economic Development Committee
Pictured in front L to R: Heather Harris, Rachel Phipps, Robert Georgitis
Second row L to R: Miriam Whitehouse, Gary Dugas, June Huston
Back row L to R: Steve Hrehovcik, John Daamen, Jon Johnson
Kennebunk @ Work

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