Maine: An Encyclopedia


Year Population
1970 9,989
1980 10,578
1990 10,573
2000 9,112
2010 10,362
Orono Population Chart 1810-2010

Population Trend 1810-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:52:58
W. Latitude 68:42:13
Maine House Dists 123,124
Maine Senate District 5
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 19.8
Area sq. mi. (land) 18.2
Population/sqmi (land) 569.3
County: Penobscot

Total=land+water; Land=land only
St. Mary's Catholic Church (2005)

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Sign: Welcome to Orono (2005)[OR-uh-no] is a town in Penobscot County, incorporated on March 12, 1806 from Stillwater Plantation. In 1840 it ceded land to form Old Town.

The town is named for a well-respected Chief of the Penobscots who supported the American Revolution.

The name “Orono” may not be of Indian origin since he reportedly said that his father was French and his mother was half-French and half-Indian.

Governor Israel Washburn House (2005)

Gov. Washburn House (2005)

Nathaniel Treat House (2005)

Nathaniel Treat House (2005)

The town was settled in about 1774, but in 1775 the pioneers retreated to other nearby settlements for protection against Indian raids.

Revolutionary Patriots Memorial (2005)

Revolutionary Patriots Memorial

After the Revolutionary War they returned along with others to develop mills and lumbering.

Water power was plentiful with the Stillwater River bisecting the town and merging with the Penobscot along its east boundary.

A comment from the Fogler Library’s Special Collections, notes the impact of early setters:

Gideon Mayo was born in 1808 and lived in Orono, Maine. He was involved in various businesses in the Orono area and served as agent for several sawmills on the Stillwater River, including the Basin Mills, the Island Mills, and the Orono Manufacturing Company which consisted of sawmills and water-power on the lower dam at Ayers Island on the Stillwater River in Orono.

Mayo also became involved in the 1850’s in founding and financing the Penobscot Railroad Company and served as a member of the Board of Directors and as president of the company.

In 1903 two labor unions existed in the town: the Sawmill Workers’ Union and the Papermakers’ Union.

A land-grant agricultural school was established at Orono in 1862, evolving in 1865 into the University of Maine, which now dominates the town’s economy and culture.

Shops and Pat's Pizza (2005)

Shops and Pat’s Pizza (2005)

Pat’s Pizza, at the center in the photo at right, has been a major institution among students for generations.

It has since opened restaurants in other towns across the state.

Orono Land Trust manages the Gould Landing area at Pushaw Lake, which includes 38 acres of upland, wetlands, and two islands.  The Nadeau-Savoy park at the landing memorializes two Orono men killed in action in1966 and 1970.

Pushaw Lake near Gould Landing (2014)

Nadeau-Savoy Park at Pushaw Lake (2014)

Nadeau-Savoy Park at Pushaw Lake (2014)

Pushaw Lake near Gould's Landing (2014)

Pushaw Lake near Gould's Landing (2014)

Pushaw Lake near Gould's Landing (2014)

Form of Government: Council-Manager

Additional sources

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

Day, Clarence Albert, 1883-1981. Historical sketch of Orono. Orono, Me. 1956.

Doty, Stewart C. Orono, 1806-2006. Orono, Me. Orono Historical Society. c2006. [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me.   Text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: and

Old Fire Engine House: 85002181.PDF
Treat, Nathaniel, House: 73000143.PDF
U.S. Post Office: 86000881.PDF
Washburn, Governor Israel, House: 73000144.PDF

Mayo, Gideon, 1808-1876. Papers. Special Collections, Fogler Library, University of Maine. Orono.

Peterson, Scott D. Orono. Chicago, Ill. Arcadia. 2004.

Rogers, Hanna W., ed. A History of Orono, Maine. 1926. Special Collections, Fogler Library, University of Maine. Orono.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Colburn, William, House, 91 Bennoch Road

Maine Experiment Station Barn, University of Maine campus

Old Fire Engine House

Old Fire Engine House (1985)

Old Fire Engine House (1985)

[North Main Street] The Old Fire Engine House is a virtually unaltered example of a late 19th century fire station. It was also important to the northern half of the town, separated from the rest of the community by the Stillwater River. This area developed after the Civil War as an industrial center with factories and working class housing. [Roger G. Reed photo]

Although a volunteer fire department was organized in the late 1830s, an engine house was not built until the 1860s. Known as Monitor Hall, it served the town center south of the Stillwater River. A town meeting in 1892 raised $2,000 for an engine house. Designed in a modified Colonial Revival style, it contained a large hall at grade level for the engine. Below grade, where the structure was built into the side of a hill, were the horse stalls. A bell tower at the front called the volunteer firemen. A hose tower is in the rear.

The interior has original woodwork on the floors, walls and ceilings. The walls have tongue and groove paneling; windows have molded trim with corner blocks.*

Orono Main Street Historic District
[Main Street from Maplewood Avenue to Pine Street]

Treat, Nathaniel, House

[114 Main Street] Nathaniel Treat, who was to become one of the most prominent mill owners and lumbermen in the area, was born in Frankfort in 1798. About 1829 he came to Orono with his young wife, Mary Parker. Here he erected a sawmill on Treat and Bennoch dam (called the Treat mill) and built this house where he was to live for almost thirty years.

During this period he and his younger brother, Joseph, built other sawmills along the Stillwater River. With Andrew Webster, he acquired extensive land holdings. The land that includes much of the towns of Old Town and Orono was known as Treat and Webster Island. A dam in the Stillwater River was called Treat and Webster dam.

Nathaniel Treat served as first selectman of Orono for many years. He represented Orono in the State Legislature in 1834 and was the second president of the Stillwater Canal Bank.

In 1924 the house was acquired by Isabel R. Dunn, wife of Charles J. Dunn, Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Court from 1918-35 and Chief Justice from 1935-39. During the twenty-five years of the Dunn’s residence in the house, it gained considerable prominence as a meeting place of high officials. Because of judge Dunn’s occupancy the house was often referred to as the Dunn House.* [See photo above.]

University of Maine at Orono Historic District, Munson, Sebec, and Schoodic Roads

US Post Office–Orono Maine

Post Office (2005)

Post Office (2005)

[Forest and Bennoch Streets] The Post Office was built in 1914, one of forty built in the United States that year. It, along with the Camden Post Office, was one of the first buildings designed by Oscar Wenderoth, adopting architect James Knox Taylor’s philosophy of designing “Classical Styles of Architecture” and the use of fine high quality, durable building materials, symmetry and ornamentation.
It seems to contain many of the architectural elements and styling of Taylor’s Bar Harbor Post Office. It also may have influenced the somewhat more restrained Camden Post Office, designed by Wenderoth in 1912, in a period when public buildings were designed to inspire respect.*

Washburn, Governor Israel, House

[120 Main Street] This house was built in 1840 for his bride by the Hon. Israel Washburn, Jr. Washburn was prominent in both state and national politics. He was admitted to the bar in Bangor in 1834 at the age of 21, with no formal education. He began his practice in Orono at the beginning of the mid-19th century logging era and land boom in eastern and northern Maine.

He was elected to Congress in 1851, where he served with distinction until 1860. While in the House of Representatives, he was a leader in drafting anti-slave legislation. He helped in the organization of the Republican Party and suggested the name “Republican” for the new party. Washburn played a leading role in the formation of the Republican Party in Maine,

In 1861, Washburn became governor of Maine and served two terms during Lincoln’s administration.  In 1874, he returned to Orono to give a historical address before the citizens on the 100th anniversary of that settlement. It was a labor of love because he had spent his early manhood here. In Orono he married and became the father of four children, and achieved his first success. In 1879, he prepared for the Historical Society an elaborate and thorough investigation of the dispute over the Northeastern Boundary of the state. The great work of his life was his contest against extension of slave power in America, and later against slavery itself.* [See photo above.]

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