|Maine House||District 104|
|Maine Senate||District 10|
|Area sq. mi.||(total) 38.4|
|Area sq. mi.||(land) 38.4|
Total=land+water; Land=land only
The township was granted to Marblehead Academy in 1793 and was settled beginning in 1801. The boundaries were surveyed by Ephraim Ballard and Samuel Weston. Dr. John Blaisdell was an early proprietor and developer and the area was known as Blaisdelltown before the town was incorporated. The new name reflected the fact that some settlers had come from Exeter, New Hampshire.
In the mid-19th century the streams supported three sawmills, several shingle mills and four grist mills. Exeter Mills is a small village where Allen Stream runs near the corner of Mills Road and Between the Mills Road, names that recall the early history of the area.
The first school was established in 1804, and by 1886 the town had thirteen public schoolhouses. The population in 1880 was 1,274.
According to the town’s 2011 Comprehensive Plan,
The Town was divided into school districts and as soon as there were 20 children between 4 and 21 years of age, a school would be built. The first public school was taught in the summer of 1811 in District One by Miss Susan Prescott in a log house on the James Brown place. Exeter High School was incorporated in 1838; a large building was erected for this purpose, which still stands.
The Exeter Town House was erected in 1843; previously Town Meetings had been held at private residences or school houses.
. . . .
Perhaps a series of bad fires beginning in the late 1800s and lasting into the early 1900s contributed to a declining sense of community in Exeter. In 1896 the Methodist Church burned down. In 1899, the Exeter House Hotel burned, destroying stables and a large set of adjoining buildings as well. A mainstay home, the George S. Hill place and the John Walker store was also destroyed. In the next few years a number of homes of prosperous citizens of the town were destroyed.
The Exeter Fair opened in 1867 during the peak years of the Town. A race track and grandstand were constructed on the Exeter Road (Routes 11/43). Horse racing drew participants from New England and spectators from central and eastern Maine. The fair closed during World War II and was not sustainable thereafter.
While no single village stands out as a population center, Exeter Center has many of the traditional elements of a main village.
The local economy depends on agriculture and other natural resource based industries, as confirmed on the “Welcome” sign: “The Agricultural Center of Penobscot County.”
Since the 1990s, agricultural businesses have expanded and thrived. The largest dairy farm experienced a 400% increase in milk cows. Potato farms have increased their yields.
Uncharacteristic for most Maine towns, Exeter has neither a lake, pond or mountain of note. However, it does have a number of small villages: Exeter Center, Exeter Corners, Exeter Mills, East Exeter, French Mill (through which French Stream flows), South Exeter and Stubbs Corner.
Maine combined Routes 11 and 43 zigs and zags in a generally east-west direction through the town, serving Exeter Corner, Exeter Center and Stubbs Corner.
Exeter is also a bedroom community for the Bangor area and is dependent on the vitality of service center businesses there.
Abbee, M. C., Mrs. Military History of Exeter. 1943
Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns.
Exeter, Town of. 2011 Comprehensive Plan. http://www.maine.gov/dacf/municipalplanning/comp_plans/Exeter_2011%20.pdf (accessed March 11, 2014)