Center Sandwich began as the site of an early gristmill, erected in 1768 by Daniel Beede, which was followed in 1780 by a sawmill, both on the banks of the Red Hill River. Roads were then built to the area, and the village grew from about 900 people in 1790 to over 2,000 in 1820. Most of the village's development and growth occurred in the years before the American Civil War, resulting in residential and civic buildings that are largely vernacular Federal and Greek Revival in style. Because no railroads were built to serve the area, Center Sandwich declined in importance after the Civil War. Only a small number of changes occurred in the village in the 20th century.