Maine: An Encyclopedia


Location Map for Pittsfield

Location Map for Pittsfield

Year Population
1970 4,274
1980 4,125
1990 4,190
2000 4,214
2010 4,215
Pittsfield Population Chart 1820-2010

Population Trend 1820-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:46:12
W. Latitude 69:26:05
Maine House District 106
Maine Senate District 3
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 48.7
Area sq. mi. (land) 48.2
Population/sq.mi. (land) 87.5
County: Somerset

Total=land+water; Land=land only
Bell Tower on Founders Hall (2002)

Bell Tower on Founders Hall

Sign: Welcome to Pittsfield (2002)

Sign: Welcome to Pittsfield

[PITS-field] a town in Somerset County was incorporated as the town of Warsaw on June 19, 1819 from Plymouth Gore, Sebasticook and Warsaw.

In 1821 it set off land to Twenty Five Mile Pond Plantation (now Burnham).

1824 was an important year for the town as it set off land to Canaan, annexed land from Palmyra, and changed its name to Pittsfield in honor of William Pitts of Boston, a large landowner.

Sign: Maine Central Institute (2002)

Sign: Maine Central Institute

Founders Hall at MCI (2002)

Founders Hall at MCI (2002)

Moses Martin of Norridgewock came to the area in 1790 on a hunting expedition, admired the location, and became, along with his wife and four children, its first settler. A skilled woodsman, hunter, trapper, and fisher, he got along well with the local Indians.

Old Pittsfield Railroad Station (2002)

Old Pittsfield Railroad Station

Pittsfield Public Library (2002)

Pittsfield Public Library (2002)

By 1855 the railroad had arrived. The Penobscot and Kennebec Railroad, with tracks from Bangor to Waterville and connections south merged in 1862 with the Androscoggin and Kennebec creating the Maine Central Railroad.

Pittsfield Birdseye View 1889

Pittsfield Birdseye View 1889

As did many Maine communities, Pittsfield’s woolen mills provided steady employment during the first half of the 20th century, then literally “went South,” finding cheaper labor in the 1950’s.

Two sons of Pittsfield became governors of Maine: Llewellyn Powers (1897-1901) and Carl E. Milliken (1917-1921). Hugh Pendexter, a poet and novelist, was also born here. It is also the birthplace of Nathaniel M. Haskell, a U.S. Representative.

Maine Central Institute, founded in 1866 as a preparatory school for Bates College, is one of the “Big 10” private secondary schools in Maine that still serves the public school population as well.

Pittsfield Universalist Church (2002)

Pittsfield Universalist Church (2002)

Science Center at MCI (2002)

Science Center at MCI (2002)

Downtown Pittsfield, on the Sebasticook River, was wiped out by a fire in 1881 and rebuilt immediately. It is at the junction of Maine Routes 11,69, 100 and 152. Interstate 95 passes on the outskirts.

Form of Government: Council-Mayor-Manager.

Additional resources

Image credit: “Pittsfield Birdseye View 1889.” LC classification: G3734.P56A3 1889 .N6. Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu. Digital ID: G3734P Pm002480 Http://Hdl.Loc.Gov/Loc.Gmd/G3734P.Pm002480.  Image source: (accessed March 18, 2013)

Chatto, Clarence I. History of Pittsfield. Auburn, Me. Chatto and Turner. 1911.

Cook, Sanger Mills. Pittsfield on the Sebasticook. Furbush-Roberts Printing Company, Inc. 1966.

Gulick, Peter Lee. The Woolen Industry of Pittsfield. 1969. (Thesis (M.A.) — University of Maine at Orono) [University of Maine. Raymond H. Fogler Library. Special Collection]

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

Founders Hall: 79000167.PDF
Pittsfield Public Library: 83000471.PDF
Pittsfield Railroad Station: 80000254.PDF
Pittsfield Universalist Church: 83000472.PDF

Pittsfield Sesquicentennial, 1819-1969. Pittsfield, Me. 1969.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Founders Hall

[South Main Street] Founders Hall, on the campus of the Maine Central Institute, is significant both in its architecture and importance as an educational institution.The school was chartered as a private academy on February 1, 1866 and opened to students August 30, 1866. The cornerstone of Founder’s Hall was laid in 1868 and by 1870 the lower floor had been completed. Donations finished the structure and in 1877 the final touch was added—a bell from the town. [See photo above.]

Since then the building has remained the focal point of the campus. Architecturally, it is an excellent example of mid-19th century Maine academic architecture, a rare structure of this type on such a grand scale. The building still dominates the campus despite the addition of numerous more modern buildings. Maine Central Institute has long provided high quality secondary education for this large inland rural area at very modest cost.*

Pittsfield Public Library

[Main Street] The Pittsfield Public Library is one of Maine’s most distinctive small town “Carnegie Libraries,” and one of the earliest and finest examples of Beaux Arts buildings in central Maine. Designed in 1903 by Albert Randolph Ross of New York, the library is among the most notable of Pittsfield’s buildings from any period.

The library was gift to the town by Andrew Carnegie and the will of entrepreneur Robert Dodson, founder of the Pittsfield woolen industry. Dodson resembled Carnegie in being a Scottish immigrant who rose to captain an American industry. After heated debate throughout early 1903 on the selection of a library site, Pittsfield citizens chose the present location because of its proximity to the Maine Central Railroad station and tracks. The town was wanted that the library be seen by train passengers.

Architect Ross was responsible for two other Maine libraries, those at Old Town and Good Will Farm In Hinckley. Ross is best known for the Washington, D. C. public library of 1900-01.The Pittsfield Library is among the first Beaux Arts buildings in Maine, and is certainly the earliest example of the style in Somerset County.* [See photo above.]

Pittsfield Railroad Station

[Central Street] On July 2, 1855, the Maine Central Railroad opened a line with regular schedules connecting Pittsfield, Bangor, and Waterville. This event transformed this obscure village into a bustling and rapidly growing community. In 1886, the Sebasticook and Moosehead Railroad built a line connecting Pittsfield and Hartland. Pittsfield had now become an important railroad junction.

In 1888 the Maine Central Railroad built a new passenger station. A small exchange house for interchange of freight between the two railroads was added and new platforms were laid. The station design was in keeping with the prevailing trend in railroad architecture, combining Italianate features with Stick Style elements.

This particular station, as restored by the Athenaeum Club of Pittsfield, is an exceptionally well preserved example of a rapidly disappearing type of public facility. The building attached to the west end of the station is the exchange house and is considered important architecturally and historically.

The station ranks among the best preserved examples of its type in Maine, retaining virtually all of its original stained glass. With one small exception the building is completely unaltered, a very rare condition among the rapidly disappearing stations of this period.* [See photo above.]

Pittsfield Universalist Church

[North Main and Easy Streets] The First Universalist Church of 1898-99 is Pittsfield’s principle historic meeting house, and perhaps the best local example of the Queen Anne style. The exterior has been slightly remodeled, but the unique interior remains perfectly preserved. The building contains an uncommon amount of stained glass for a small-town church, even the interior transom lights being fashioned of it.

Most important is the art-work of the sanctuary. On the ceiling are eleven small frescoes by the noted Maine artist Henry H. Cochrane (1860-1946). Cochrane was extremely prolific, decorating literally hundreds of Maine’s churches and buildings. The bulk of his work, however, consists of non-figurative abstract or floral decoration. The Pittsfield frescoes are among Cochrane’s finest and most ambitious works as an artist. The stained-glass windows of the sanctuary are also of rare quality. Executed by Redding, Baird, & Company of Boston, the favrile glass panels are singular in Somerset County.* [See photo above.]

“Favrile glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany represented an altogether higher level of achievement both in its shapes and in the colouring and figuring of the glass. It was first shown to the public in 1893 . . .” Encyclopædia Britannica. “Faverile glass.” (accessed December 20, 2015)

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2 Responses to Pittsfield

  1. Thomas C. Brown says:

    Under the above description of the Pittsfield Railroad Station, ” The building attached to the west end of the station is the exchange house and is considered important architecturally and historically.” There is no building currently attached to the railroad station. There had been a building housing the Railroad Express Agency (REA) attached, but this was demolished some time around 1966 when Delmont Soule purchased the railroad station where he continued to function as REA manager, according to “Pittsffield on the Sebasticook”, page 165.

    • Jim says:

      Thanks for the correction. I have updated the text.

      The original description by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission drafted in 1978 noted the location of the exchange house. In a 1991 revision to the National Register, it stated “At the time of its original listing, the exchange house which was connected to the station’s west end was rapidly deteriorating. In the mid-1980s it was condemned by the Town of Pittsfield and subsequently torn down. Shortly thereafter, the site was prepared for reception of the existing caboose which was given to the historical society in 1986.”

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