Main Births etc
Wells, Maine
—  Town  —
Town Hall
Flag of Wells, Maine
Motto: The Friendliest Town In Maine

Wells, Maine is located in Maine
Wells, Maine
Location within the state of Maine
Coordinates: 43°19′13″N 70°36′42″W / 43.32028, -70.61167
Country United States
State Maine
County York
Founded 1643
Incorporated 1653
 • Type Town Meeting, Board of Selectmen, Town Manager
 • Town Manager Jonathan Carter
 • Total 73.61 sq mi (190.65 km2)
 • Land 57.55 sq mi (149.05 km2)
 • Water 16.06 sq mi (41.60 km2)
Elevation 177 ft (54 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 9,589
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 9,748
 • Density 166.6/sq mi (64.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code(s) 04054 (Moody), 04090 (Wells)
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-81475
GNIS feature ID 0582799

Wells is a town in York County, Maine, United States. Founded in 1643, it is the third-oldest town in Maine.[4] The population in 2010 was 9,589. Wells Beach is a popular summer destination.

History[edit | edit source]

The Abenaki Indians called the area Webhannet, meaning "at the clear stream", a reference to the Webhannet River.

Edmund Littlefield, an immigrant from the wool regions of Titchfield, England, built the first gristmill and later a woolen mill on the Webhannet River, becoming known as "The Father of Wells," where a monument commemorates his contribution. In 1622, the Plymouth Company in England awarded to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Lord Proprietor of Maine, territory which included the Plantation of Wells. His young cousin, Thomas Gorges, acting as deputy and agent, in 1641 granted to Rev. John Wheelwright and other settlers from Exeter, New Hampshire the right to populate the land from northeast of the Ogunquit River to southwest of the Kennebunk River. Following the death of the elder Gorges in 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony laid claim to Maine. In 1653, Wells was incorporated, the third town in Maine to do so, and named after Wells, England, a small cathedral city in the county of Somerset. It then included Kennebunk, set off the year Maine became a state in 1820, and Ogunquit, designated a village within Wells by the legislature in 1913, then set off in 1980.[5]

Wells was the resilient northeastern frontier of English settlement. Except for a few forts and garrisons, early attempts to colonize Maine above Wells were abandoned because of attacks by Native Americans allied with New France, which resented encroachment by New England in territory it considered its own, Acadia. Wells endured three major attacks, most famously the Raid on Wells in 1692. The region became less dangerous, however, after the Battle of Louisburg in 1745.[5]

Many early Wells settlers joined the Continental Army and were Revolutionary War heroes including Captains Samuel Gooch, Nathanial Littlefield, and Jeremiah Storer. Ocean View Cemetery on Post Road contains a well designed Civil War monument and plot honoring its service members. Visitors can walk to Founder's Park just off of Post Road onto Sanford Road, which includes a light walking trail, picnic area, and the first settlement home. Monuments list the names of Wells' founding families.

The town developed as a farming community, producing hay and vegetables. Other industries included shipbuilding and fisheries. In the 19th century, with the arrival of the railroad, the town's beautiful beaches attracted tourists. Many inns and hotels were built along the seashore. Today, tourism remains important to the economy.[6]

Wells Police Department color guard marching in the town's 350th anniversary parade.

Wells celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2003.[7] The year-long celebration included a New Year's Eve party with fireworks, parade, a visit by the traveling Russian circus, concerts, historical reenactments, and more. The town commissioned a member of the celebration committee, Kristi Borst, to design a town flag. Her design portrays historic aspects of the Town's settlement and agriculture as well as the 2003 Town Hall and focus on tourism represented by a train. Also included is the motto she penned for the project: "Proud of our Past, Ready for our Future".[8]

Geography[edit | edit source]

Wells Town Hall in 1922.

Wells is on the southern coast of Maine, surrounded by Kennebunk to the northeast, Sanford to the northwest, North Berwick to the west, South Berwick to the southwest, and Ogunquit to the south.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 73.61 square miles (190.65 km2), of which, 57.55 square miles (149.05 km2) of it is land and 16.06 square miles (41.60 km2) is water.[1] Wells is drained by the Webhannet River. The highest point in town is an unnamed hill located a half mile south of the intersection of State Route 9 and Bragdon Road, which is 360 feet (110 m) above sea level. The lowest elevation is sea level, along the coastline with the Atlantic Ocean.

Wells is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Transportation[edit | edit source]

B&M railroad station in 1910.

There are several transportation corridors connecting Wells with other communities:

Access to the Amtrak national passenger rail system is available at the Wells Regional Transportation Center, which is served by 10 Downeaster trains per day. The center has a park and ride lot and is adjacent to the I-95 interchange.

Education[edit | edit source]

Wells Junior High School (built in 1937 as the third Wells High School).

There are four educational institutions in Wells: Wells Elementary School (kindergarten through fourth grade), Wells Junior High School (fifth grade through eighth grade), Wells High School (ninth grade through twelfth grade, as well as adult education programs), and York County Community College.

Wells is a member of the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District.

Places of worship[edit | edit source]

First Congregational Church (now the Meetinghouse Museum).


Christian, interdenominational

Church of the Nazarene


Roman Catholic

  • Saint Mary's Church

Old Catholic

United Church of Christ

Points of interest[edit | edit source]

Wells Beach in 1908

Wells Beach in 2017

Notable people[edit | edit source]

Wells High School Marching Band

Wells Fire Department tower truck #6

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 3,070
1800 3,692 20.3%
1810 4,489 21.6%
1820 2,660 −40.7%
1830 2,978 12.0%
1840 2,978 0%
1850 2,945 −1.1%
1860 2,878 −2.3%
1870 2,773 −3.6%
1880 2,450 −11.6%
1890 2,029 −17.2%
1900 2,007 −1.1%
1910 1,908 −4.9%
1920 1,943 1.8%
1930 2,047 5.4%
1940 2,144 4.7%
1950 2,321 8.3%
1960 3,528 52.0%
1970 4,448 26.1%
1980 8,211 84.6%
1990 7,778 −5.3%
2000 9,400 20.9%
2010 9,589 2.0%
Est. 2014 10,009 [11] 6.5%

2010 Census[edit | edit source]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 9,589 people, 4,120 households, and 2,734 families residing in the town. The population density was 166.6 inhabitants per square mile (64.3 /km2). There were 8,557 housing units at an average density of 148.7 per square mile (57.4 /km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.2% White, 0.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 4,120 households of which 24.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.6% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.77.

The median age in the town was 48.5 years. 18.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.2% were from 25 to 44; 34.8% were from 45 to 64; and 21% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 Census[edit | edit source]

As of the 2000 United States Census,[15] there were 9,400 people, 4,004 households, and 2,690 families residing in the town. The population density was 163.1 people per square mile (63.0/km²). There were 7,794 housing units at an average density of 135.2 per square mile (52.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.18% White, 0.23% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.14% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.64% of the population.

There were 4,004 households out of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 6.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the town, the population was spread out with 21.0% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $46,314, and the median income for a family was $53,644. Males had a median income of $39,682 versus $28,463 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,130. About 3.1% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.

Images[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 17 June 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Geo. J. Varney. "History of Wells, Maine." A Gazetteer of the State of Maine, Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill, Boston 1886. Transcribed by Betsey S. Webber.
  5. ^ a b Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 349–353. 
  6. ^ Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Wells, Boston: Russell, 
  7. ^ Hagan, Jennifer (1 January 2004). "Kids Circus fitting finale for celebration". York County Coast Star. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Hope M. Shelley, "A History of Wells, Maine". 
  9. ^ "10 things to do in Wells". Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Script error: No such module "webarchive".
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Wright, Virginia. "Shifting Sands: Wells". Down East: The Magazine of Maine (November 2007). 

External links[edit | edit source]

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