About Quizzes

History of Augusta, Maine

Augusta is the capital of Maine and the seat of Kennebec County. It is situated on both sides of the Kennebec River, about 45 miles from the river's mouth. The future site of Augusta had been a Native American village long before the arrival of the first Europeans. Exploration of the area occurred first by members of the short-lived Popham Colony, which was established around 1607 at the mouth of the Kennebec. The site was selected by members of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts in 1625 as a site for a trading post, which was built in 1628. The post operated for 40 or 50 years before being abandoned. About three quarters of a century later, the Kennebec Proprietors, a group of wealthy Boston investors, erected Fort Western below the falls at the head of navigation. When the fort no longer needed a military presence, its commander, Captain James Howard, stayed on as the area's first permanent settler. The fort's main building was his residence as well as a store. Fort Western is the oldest wooden fort still standing in North America. A community known as "The Fort" grew up around the fort and was included within Hallowell when that town was incorporated in 1771. The Fort, however, developed a distinct identity and was separated from Hallowell in 1797. It was at first given the name of Harrington, but the name was changed to Augusta four months later. Augusta became the first seat of Kennebec County when it was formed in 1799. When Maine entered the Union in 1820, Portland was its first capital, but in 1827, the state legislature designated Augusta as the capital. The legislature continued to meet in Portland, however, until 1832, when buildings were ready for the government to move. A complex of state buildings dominates the center of Augusta. The Maine State Capitol, designed by the same Charles Bullfinch who designed the national capitol in Washington, D.C., is situated opposite Capitol Park. Nearby is Blaine House, the official residence of Maine's governor and the former home of the statesman James G. Blaine. The Maine State Museum is a block from the Capitol. The University of Maine at Augusta was founded in 1965 and has additional campuses at Bangor and Lewiston. The houses of a number of men who have contributed to national history are still standing in Augusta. The John Neal House was built on State Street in 1836 by John Neal, an advocate of women's suffrage. The Monastery of the Most Precious Blood, on the same street, was originally the home of Prentiss Mellen, Maine's first chief justice, and later of Senator William Pitt Fessenden. Fessenden was a Republican who voted against his party when he opposed the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Neal Dow was active in the prohibition movement and helped Maine become the first dry state in 1851. He ran as the Prohibition Party candidate for President in 1880. The Neal Dow Home is on Congress Street.