In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Thomaston Expands - 1805 to 1846

As Crick Village became saturated with businesses, entrepreneurs moved west on the County Road to open spaces. John Paine arrived in 1805 from Bristol, Maine, settling on the western side of town, where he built a grand two-and-a-half-story federal-styled home and a wharf on the river at a section, referred to the Narrows, to dock his trading vessels. Paine did an extensive business in the lumber trade between here and Liverpool and other foreign ports, his ships returning with salt, coal, dry goods and hardware. His store, one of three businesses at an area referred to as the Upper Corner, the intersection of County Road and Wadsworth Street, stood on the southwest corner until it was destroyed by fire in 1849. Paine was a determined businessman, continuing his trading business despite the Embargo Act imposed on all American vessels in 1807 by Congress. The Act was an attempt to stop foreign exports and imports, intended to punish the British and French and to force them to respect the authority of the newly formed American nation. It punished American merchants in the process by prohibiting trading. However, Paine surreptitiously continued trading at great risk and was so successful that in 1820, his import duties alone were $170,000.

The Thomaston Bank was established in 1825 at the Lower Corner on the site of the current business block on the north side of Main Street. With increased shipbuilding along Water Street, this location was found to be more convenient for trading, and new business blocks were built to accommodate the needs of an increasing population. The Knox Hotel, a wood structure with a stable, and Thomaston Bank, housed in a granite building, joined several small dry goods stores. Several businessmen joined together to build the brick Union Block, each constructing their own unit, sharing common walls. In the late 19th century, pre-existing wooden stores were gradually replaced with brick construction, creating the historic downtown streets one sees today.

West Main Street, Thomaston, ca. 1899
West Main Street, Thomaston, ca. 1899
Thomaston Historical Society

Due to the thriving shipbuilding and lime quarrying businesses, the population in Thomaston swelled to 6227 by the 1840s, and a variety of businesses flourished. Townspeople took pride in their surroundings and at the urging of William R. Keith, whose father, Josiah, was a tanner and shoemaker from Bridgewater, MA, planted trees and built pine-planking sidewalks along the streets. In 1846, in just three weeks, 2,000 elms and rock maple trees were planted throughout the village. A little over a century later, many of these trees had succumbed to Dutch elm disease, a blight that nearly decimated every tree of this species throughout the northeast. Keith was also one of Thomaston’s significant house wrights, along with James Overlock, a joiner, who arrived from Waldoboro to build first ships and then houses. Overlock left a legacy of stately Italianate structures, shaping the architectural character of Thomaston seen today.

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