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Kennebunkport History

The Kennebunk River in 1903

The Kennebunk River in 1903

The History of Kennebunkport
Originally named Cape Porpoise in 1663 as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Kennebunkport was the newly adopted name in 1821 because of its location on the Kennebunk River. The town’s thriving shipbuilding and commercial fishing industries drew visitors of all backgrounds to the area and its picturesque scenery became the attraction to vacationers seeking the quaintness of a New England village. Hotels, cottages, and homes were constructed along the coastline to accommodate residents in the town as well as nearby Cape Arundel, Cape Porpoise, and Beechwood (now called Goose Rocks).

The Great Fires of 1947
Until the late 1940s, the town of Kennebunkport and other locations in York County had stable economies, but fell victim to the Great Fires of 1947. In the spring months of April, May, and June of that year, York County and Mount Desert Island were inundated with record rainfalls. Drought conditions immediately followed in mid-July and the forest fires swept from the towns of Shapleigh and Waterboro to the ocean front. All of the villages and towns en route including Kennebunkport, suffered losses of homes, but have since been rebuilt.