Main Street in 1910
|• Total||54.58 sq mi (141.36 km2)|
|• Land||53.75 sq mi (139.21 km2)|
|• Water||0.83 sq mi (2.15 km2)|
|Elevation||207 ft (63 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||6,675|
|• Density||125.3/sq mi (48.4/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0582471|
Fairfield is a town in Somerset County, Maine, United States. The population was 6,735 at the 2010 census. The town includes Fairfield Center, Fairfield village and Hinckley. It is home to the Good Will-Hinckley School, Lawrence High School and Kennebec Valley Community College.
The area was territory of the Canibas tribe of Abenaki Indians residing at Taconnet village, once located downriver at the confluence of the Sebasticook and Kennebec rivers in what is today Winslow. In 1692 during King William's War, the village was burned, so the Canibas tribe abandoned the area. The French and Indian Wars finally ended in 1763, leaving the region open for English colonization. Fairfield Plantation, named for its fair aspect, was first settled in 1774.
Benedict Arnold and his troops rested and re-provisioned here in 1775 during their march up the Kennebec River to the Battle of Quebec. Following the Revolutionary War, Fairfield Plantation developed as a trade and agricultural town, with farms producing hay, grain and potatoes. It was noted for the number and quality of its cattle. On June 18, 1788, it was incorporated as Fairfield. By 1790, the community had 492 inhabitants. In 1837, it produced 11,531 bushels of wheat and a large quantity of wool.
Falls on the Kennebec drop 34 feet at Fairfield, providing water power for industry. The mill town had eight sawmills, three planing mills, a gristmill, a canned corn factory, plaster mill, three carriage factories, a sled factory, two door, sash and blind factories, a cabinet and box factory, coffin factory, a clothing factory, a marble works and a tannery. The largest factories were the textile plants—Kendall's Mills in the southeastern extremity of the town, and Somerset Mills located about two miles above.
The main line of the Maine Central Railroad passes through Fairfield on the way from Portland to Waterville to Bangor, and the Skowhegan branch of the Maine Central Railroad (originally the Somerset and Kennebec Railroad) ran along the Kennebec River from Waterville to Skowhegan, with stations in Shawmut and Hinckley (today, this line terminates at the SAPPI paper mill just north of Hinckley). The Somerset Railroad (Maine) traversed western Fairfield on a route that once ran north from Oakland to Norridgewock, Madison, Bingham, and Moosehead Lake (and now terminates in North Anson).
In 1889, Reverend George W. Hinckley founded the Hinckley School. In 1899-1900, The Gerald Hotel was built downtown. Designed by Maine architect William Robinson Miller, it was commissioned by Amos F. Gerald, builder of the first electric trolley system in Maine. The hotel was topped with a statue of Mercury, the Roman god of speed, and remained in operation from 1900 until 1937. Miller also designed the town's Lawrence Public Library, dedicated on July 25, 1901, and the Lawrence High School. Today, Fairfield makes wood and paper products, and is largely a bedroom community for Waterville.
The town has three post offices because it contains three different unincorporated townships under municipal jurisdiction of the town of Fairfield:
- Fairfield Center (no post office)
- Shawmut (post office location)
- Hinckley (post office location)
The third post office serves the incorporated urban Fairfield (CDP), an early name for which was Kendall's Mills. For approximately 75 years, the urban district was under a village corporation government. Thus, the town would hold New England style town meetings that covered business for the greater town, followed by a village corporation meeting to deal with urban needs, including police service, fire department service and town engineer service (public works). The non-urban, unincorporated areas—Shawmut, Fairfield Center and Hinckley—were not assessed taxes for urban services they did not receive. This arrangement ended in 1929.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 54.58 square miles (141.36 km2), of which 53.75 square miles (139.21 km2) is land and 0.83 square miles (2.15 km2) is water. Fairfield is drained by the Kennebec River.
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,735 people, 2,793 households, and 1,851 families residing in the town. The population density was 125.3 inhabitants per square mile (48.4 /km2). There were 3,016 housing units at an average density of 56.1 per square mile (21.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.4% White, 0.4% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.5% of the population.
There were 2,793 households of which 30.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.7% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.85.
The median age in the town was 41.8 years. 22.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 31% were from 45 to 64; and 13.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,573 people, 2,586 households, and 1,773 families residing in the town. The population density was 122.3 people per square mile (47.2/km²). There were 2,801 housing units at an average density of 52.1 per square mile (20.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.92% White, 0.35% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.05% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.30% of the population.
There were 2,586 households out of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.8% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $36,462, and the median income for a family was $43,533. Males had a median income of $31,227 versus $22,930 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,335. About 6.3% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.
Sites of interest
- L. C. Bates Museum
- Cotton-Smith House, Fairfield Historical Society Museum
- Stone historical markers commemorating:
Fairfield schools are part of Maine School Administrative District #49. Dr. Dean Baker is the Superintendent of Schools.
The following schools are in the district, Albion Elementary, Adult Education, Benton Elementary, Clinton Elementary, Fairfield Primary, District Childcare Program, Lawrence High School and Lawrence Junior High School.
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. p. 123.
- Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Fairfield, Boston: Russell
- History of Good Will-Hinckley School
- History of Lawrence Public Library
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Maine School Administrative District 49". Maine School Administrative District 49. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Town of Fairfield, Maine
- Lawrence Public Library
- Fairfield Historical Society
- Fairfield Country Riders Snowmobile Club
- Good Will-Hinckley School
- Kennebec Valley Community College