Maine: An Encyclopedia


Location Map For Charleston

Location Map For Charleston

Year Population
1970 909
1980 1,037
1990 1,187
2000 1,397
2010 1,409
Chapman Population Chart 1880-2010

Population Trend 1880-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 45:04:20
W. Latitude 69:02:20
Maine House District 104
Maine Senate District 4
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 40.2
Area sq. mi. (land) 40.2
Population/sq.mi. (land) 40.6
County: Penobscot

Total=land+water; Land=land only

[CHARLES-tun] a town in Penobscot County, incorporated on February 16, 1811 under the name of New Charleston from township T2 R5 NWP.

The current name was adopted in 1827 since the original name was meant to distinguish it from the Massachusetts town of Charleston, but Maine statehood in 1820 eliminated the confusion.

Post Office, Charleston Village (2014)

Post Office, Charleston Village (2014) @

Faith School of Theology, Higgins Classical Institute in Charleston Village (2014)

Higgins Classical Institute in the Village (2014) @

In 1886, George  Varney observed that on the the Kenduskeag Stream and the Pushaw Stream each

have one or more water-powers [dams or dam sites], and all were formerly occupied by mills. Three powers are thus occupied at present by saw-mills. . . . The principal occupation of the people is agricultural. There are many farms in the town, a large product being horses and domestic cattle. Charleston, a little north of the middle of the town, is a pleasant village, and the principal business centre. West Charleston is the other post-office. . . .

The township was granted by Massachusetts, July 14, 1802,to John Lowell. The settlement was commenced as early as 1795 by Charles Vaughan.

Masonic Temple in Charleston Village (2014)

Masonic Temple in the Village (2014) @

United Baptist Church, apparently unused, in Charleston Village (2014)

United Baptist Church in the Village (2014) @

Charleston had ten schoolhouses, with a population of 1,191 in 1870, and of 1,111 in 1880.  A large population for the time and relatively remote area.

In 1891 the Maine Legislature incorporated in Charleston a private “institution of learning by the name of the Higgins Classical Institute, for the promotion of christian education, and the instruction of youth in such languages, arts and sciences as the trustees hereinafter named shall direct.”  The original building has been expanded in recent years.

Faith School of Theology, Higgins Classical Institute in Charleston Village (2014)

Faith School of Theology, Higgins Cl Institute (2014) @

Large House and Barn in Charleston Village (2014)

Large House and Barn in Charleston Village (2014) @

House and Agway in Charleston Village (2014)

House and Agway in Charleston Village (2014) @

Beginning in 1950 the U.S. Air Force developed a base here on Bull Hill to “provide search and radar to the semiautomatic ground environment (SAGE) . . . and to  provide ground-to-air communications and aircraft control.” The mission was “the detection and warning of any sea launched ballistic missiles” until the base was deactivated in 1979.

The former base now hosts a correctional center using the former base facilities. About 25 miles northwest of Bangor, Charleston is served by Maine Routes 15 and 11, with 11A passing through the main village.

The town has had continuous population growth from 1970 through 2010.

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Select Board-Administrative Assistant.

Additional resources


Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns.

Maine. Legislature. Acts and Resolves Passed by the Legislature of the State of Maine.  “An Act to Incorporate the Higgins Classical Institute. Chapter 91. Approved and Effective February 19, 1891.

Varney, George J. A Gazetteer of the State of Maine. 1886. p. 169-170.

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This entry was last modified: November 10, 2017 04:28 PM

2 Responses to Charleston

  1. Bro. Patrick Foley, O. P. says:

    Looking at the pictures and reading the website brings back very fond memories of Higgins Classical Institute and Charleston, Maine. I have very happy memories of the whole place, the teaches, and the students who attended Higgins.

    I would do it over again in another life.

    • Bro. Patrick Foley, O. P. says:

      My name while at Higgins Classical Institute was Daniel Foley. I entered a religious order, and we had to change our names at the time. The name I picked was Patrick Foley.

      Looking at the pictures and reading the web site brings back place of Higgins Classical Institute, the teachers and the students who were there.

      If I had to do over again I would. They were very happy days in my life.

      Dan Foley

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