Kittery, Maine

Coordinates: 43°5′35″N 70°43′41″W / 43.09306°N 70.72806°W / 43.09306; -70.72806
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Kittery, Maine
Old Block House at Fort McClary (c. 1908)
Old Block House at Fort McClary (c. 1908)
Official seal of Kittery, Maine
Gateway to Maine
Kittery is located in Maine
Location within the state of Maine
Coordinates: 43°5′35″N 70°43′41″W / 43.09306°N 70.72806°W / 43.09306; -70.72806
Country United States
State Maine
 • AssessorBruce Kerns
 • Total75.30 sq mi (195.03 km2)
 • Land17.78 sq mi (46.05 km2)
 • Water57.52 sq mi (148.98 km2)
23 ft (7 m)
 • Total10,070
 • Density566/sq mi (218.7/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code207
FIPS code23-37270
GNIS feature ID0582544

Kittery is a town in York County, Maine, United States, and the oldest incorporated town in Maine.[2] Home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey's Island, Kittery includes Badger's Island, the seaside district of Kittery Point, and part of the Isles of Shoals. The southernmost town in the state, it is a tourist destination known for its many outlet stores.

Kittery is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The town's population was 10,070 at the 2020 census.[3]


English settlement around the natural harbor of the Piscataqua River estuary began about 1623.[4] By 1632 the community was protected by Fort William and Mary on today's New Hampshire side of the river; in 1689 defensive works that later became Fort McClary in Kittery Point were added on today's Maine side to the north.

Kittery was incorporated in 1647,[4] staking a claim as the "oldest incorporated town in Maine."[5] It was named after the birthplace of a founder, Alexander Shapleigh, from his manor of Kittery Court at Kingswear in Devon, England. Shapleigh arrived in 1635 aboard the ship Benediction, which he co-owned with another prominent settler, Captain Francis Champernowne,[6] a cousin of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, lord proprietor of Maine.[7] Together with the Pepperrell family, they established fisheries offshore at the Isles of Shoals, where fish were caught, salted, and exported to Europe. Other pioneers were hunters, trappers, and workers of the region's abundant timber. The settlement at the mouth of the Piscataqua River was protected by Fort McClary.[8]

Thomas Spencer, Esquire, immigrant from Gloucestershire, England, is also a notable settler of Kittery with his wife Patience Chadbourne. Their story is included in The Maine Spencers: a history and genealogy, with mention of many associated families.'

Kittery originally extended from the Atlantic Ocean inland up the Salmon Falls River, including the present-day towns of Eliot, South Berwick, Berwick, and North Berwick. Located opposite Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the town developed into a center for trade and shipbuilding. In 1652, after the death of Gorges, Maine became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Francis Small was a pioneer resident of Kittery, and operated a trading post near the confluence of the Ossipee River and Saco River. Here major Indian trails converged—the Sokokis Trail (now Route 5), the Ossipee Trail (now Route 25), and the Pequawket Trail (now Route 113). The site supported the lucrative fur trade with Indians, but had the risks of living isolated in the wilderness.[9] Small became the largest property owner in the history of Maine, and was known as "the great landowner".[10][11]

In 1663, John Josselyn wrote: "Towns there are, are not many in this province. Kittery, situated not far from Passacataway (Portsmouth), is the most populous."[12]

In late 1694 or early 1695 the enslaved woman Rachel of Kittery, Maine was murdered by her enslaver, Nathaniel Keen in Kittery. During the colonial era in Kittery Parish, which included present-day Kittery, Eliot, Berwick and South Berwick, as many as 500 enslaved people were brought to Kittery Parish and striped of their identities[13] The Maine Historical Society calls Sir William Pepperrell (1696 – 1759) of Kittery "Maine's most prolific and infamous slave owner."[14]

In 1705, during Queen Anne's War, tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy raided the town, killing six residents and taking five prisoners.[15]

During the Revolution, the first vessels of the U.S. Navy were constructed on Badger's Island, including the USS Ranger (1777) commanded by John Paul Jones. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the nation's first federal navy yard, was established in 1800 on Fernald's Island. It connects to the mainland by two bridges. During the Civil War, the facility rebuilt the USS Constitution, and built the Civil War USS Kearsarge. Seavey's Island was annexed and became site of the now defunct Portsmouth Naval Prison.[16]

In 1905, The Treaty of Portsmouth, which formally ended the Russo-Japanese War, was signed at the shipyard.

From 1946 and 1977, when racial discrimination in public accommodations was common, Clayton and Hazel Sinclair operated the Rock Rest summer guest house in Kittery Point providing lodging to Black vacation travelers.[17] The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.[18] Rock Rest was featured in the 2020 documentary Driving While Black, that aired on PBS.[19]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 75.30 sq mi (195.03 km2), of which 57.52 sq mi (148.98 km2) are covered by water.[1] Situated beside the Gulf of Maine and Atlantic Ocean, Kittery is drained by Spruce Creek, Spinney Creek, Chauncey Creek, and the Piscataqua River.

The town is crossed by Interstate 95, U.S. Route 1, Maine State Route 101, Maine State Route 103, and Maine State Route 236.


See also Kittery (CDP), Maine and Kittery Point, Maine for village demographics
Historical population

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[23] of 2010, there were 9,490 people, 4,302 households, and 2,488 families living in the town. The population density was 533.7 inhabitants per square mile (206.1/km2). There were 4,942 housing units at an average density of 278.0 per square mile (107.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.1% White, 0.01% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.

There were 4,302 households, of which 23.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.2% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.77.

The median age in the town was 43.2 years. 18.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26% were from 25 to 44; 30.3% were from 45 to 64; and 17.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[24] of 2000, there were 9,543 people, 4,078 households, and 2,528 families living in the town. The population density was 535.5 inhabitants per square mile (206.8/km2). There were 4,375 housing units at an average density of 245.5 per square mile (94.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.98% White, 1.78% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.45% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.50% of the population.

There were 4,078 households, out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.9% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $52,200, and the median income for a family was $53,343. Males had a median income of $37,096 versus $29,850 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,153. About 5.7% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.9% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.


The Kittery economy is driven by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In 2021, 438 shipyard workers lived in Kittery and were paid a combined $37,784,774. The shipyard's total economic impact on the whole region in 2022 was $1,457,952,317[25] and in 2021 was $1,322,611,898.[26] In 2022, 7,251 people were employed at the shipyard.[27]

The Kittery Outlets is an outdoor shopping area located on Route 1 next to Interstate 95 with over 100 retailers, including national brands and local shops.[28]

Kittery Foreside is a popular, walkable neighborhood adjacent to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that has many commercial businesses, including boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes. It also features historic homes, large shade trees, and a number of arts and culture organizations.[29]

The Weathervane Restaurant chain was founded in Kittery in 1969.[30] In 2023, the Portland Press Herald reported that Kittery has the highest per capita number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants and food businesses in Maine.[31]

Climate change[edit]

In Kittery, coastal property, shoreland infrastructure, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are all vulnerable to rising seas caused by the changing climate. Most vulnerable are low-lying roads, the bridges to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, other bridges, businesses, a church, a fire station, and the working waterfront. To respond to these threats, the town formed a Climate Change Adaptation Committee.[32]

Arts and culture[edit]

The Kittery Art Association was formed in 1958. It manages the KAA Gallery at 2 Walker Street in Kittery Foreside, as a cultural center and exhibition gallery.[33] The Kittery Art Association purchased the gallery building in 2022 from the town library, where the property was known as the Taylor Building, for $558,700. The Kittery Art Association used to be located at 8 Coleman Avenue in Kittery Point.[34]

Rice Public Library was built in 1889.

The Rice Public Library was built in 1889 at 8 Wentworth Street. The library reopened in 2022 after a $6.1 million renovation.[34]

The nonprofit The Dance Hall is located in the former Grange Hall in Kittery Foreside. It hosts performances and classes in dance and music.[29]

Sites of interest[edit]

Kittery has some fine early architecture, including the Sir William Pepperrell House, built in 1733, and the Lady Pepperrell House, built in 1760. The John Bray House, built in 1662, is believed to be the oldest surviving house in Maine. Located at the John Paul Jones Memorial Park on U.S. 1 is the Maine Sailors' and Soldiers' Memorial by Bashka Paeff. Further northeast up the road, the town has developed factory outlet shopping, very popular with tourists. Kittery Point is home to Seapoint Beach and Fort Foster Park, originally a harbor defense.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Kittery includes many parks, beaches, and recreational spaces. The largest is Fort Foster, a former federal military installation from the 19th century until the 1950s.[35]

Other parks include


Kittery is home to Robert William Traip Academy (9–12), a formerly private, preparatory school which became public and town-run in 1967. Kittery is also home to Horace Mitchell Primary School (K–3) and Shapleigh School (4–8).


The movie Thinner (1996), based on the 1984 Stephen King novel, was filmed in Kittery.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The Saturday morning cartoon DinoSquad is based in Kittery/Kittery Point.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  2. ^ Graham, Gillian (February 3, 2020). "Border dispute between Maine's 2 oldest towns goes back 368 years". Press Herald. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  3. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Kittery town, York County, Maine". Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Kittery Historical and Naval Society (February 20, 2020). A Brief History of Kittery, Maine (PDF) (booklet) (2nd ed.). Kittery Historical and Naval Society. p. 4. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  5. ^ Town of Kittery Maine, Chapter One The History of Kittery Archived 2016-06-01 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  6. ^ The Champernownes were a prominent shipping family from Devon in England's West Country, having been a fixture in mercantile and social scene there for generations. Kat Ashley, née Champernowne, was a close friend and governess to Queen Elizabeth I. Her niece Catherine Champernowne was the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert. At the heart of the family dynastic influence lay Sir Arthur Champernowne, who served as Vice-Admiral of the West, while residing at Dartington Hall in Devon.
  7. ^ Baxter, James Phinney (1890). "Sir Ferdinando Gorges and His Province of Maine".
  8. ^ Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts: A.J. Coolidge. pp. 182–185. coolidge mansfield history description new england 1859.
  9. ^ "About Cornish Maine and CAB – Cornish Association of Businesses". Archived from the original on November 21, 2010.
  10. ^ Descendants of Edward Small Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Sullivan, Gov. James, The History of the District of Maine, I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews, Publishers, Boston, MA, 1795.
  12. ^ Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Kittery, Boston: Russell, archived from the original on February 1, 2013
  13. ^ Graham, Gillian (February 14, 2021). "'A missing piece:' Maine's connections to slavery are hidden in plain sight". Press Herald. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  14. ^ "Begin Again Pepperrell". Maine Memory Network. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  15. ^ "The border wars of New England, commonly called King William's and Queen Anne's wars". 1897.
  16. ^ "Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (NSY)". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  17. ^ "Rock Rest, Kittery Point (SAVED)". Maine Preservation. May 15, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  18. ^ "National Register of Historic Places". National Park Service.
  19. ^ Hodge, Channon (October 11, 2020). "Filmmakers unearth a long trail of racism in 'Driving While Black'". CNN. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  20. ^[bare URL plain text file]
  21. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "U.S. Census website".
  22. ^ University of Virginia Library. Retrieved on 2014-05-24.
  23. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  24. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  25. ^ "Portsmouth Naval Shipyard economic impact estimated at $1.4 Billion". New Hampshire Public Radio. September 18, 2023. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  26. ^ Lenahan, Ian. "Portsmouth Naval Shipyard economic impact $1.3B: Here's towns with most workers, payroll". Portsmouth Herald. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  27. ^ Murphy, Edward D. (September 9, 2022). "Kittery shipyard's impact last year soared to $1.3 billion". Press Herald. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  28. ^ "The Kittery Outlets - Visit Maine". Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  29. ^ a b Groban, Betsy (October 11, 2022). "Just over the border in Kittery, Maine, a neighborhood that has it all - The Boston Globe". Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  30. ^ "Weathervane Seafood Restaurant". New Hampshire Magazine. Retrieved March 14, 2023.
  31. ^ Kamila, Avery Yale (August 20, 2023). "Vegan food businesses thrive in Kittery". Press Herald. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  32. ^ Eichacker, Charlie (November 10, 2021). "With more waterfront and wealth, southern Maine towns lead the way in planning for climate change". Maine Public. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  33. ^ "About KAA". Kittery Art Association. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  34. ^ a b Lenahan, Ian. "Kittery Art Association moving to 'vibrant' Foreside in library's Taylor Building". Portsmouth Herald. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  35. ^ "Parks Commission | Kittery ME". Retrieved January 2, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]