Maine: An Encyclopedia

South Berwick

Brick House with Classic Barn (2002)

Brick House with Classic Barn (2002)

Classic Barn, now a Golf Club Building (2012)

Classic Barn, now a Golf Club Building (’12) @

Location Map for South Berwick

Location Map for South Berwick

Year Population
1970 3,488
1980 4,046
1990 5,877
2000 6,671
2010 7,720
South Berwick Population Chart 1820-2010

Population Trend 1820-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 43:14:32
W. Latitude 70:44:45
Maine House Dist 2,6
Maine Senate District 35
Congress District 1
Area sq. mi. (total) 32.7
Area sq. mi. (land) 32.2
Population/sqmi (land) 224.2
County: York

Total=land+water; Land=land only
First Parish Federated Church (2012)

First Parish Federated (’12) @

Sign: Welcome to South Berwick (2002)[BER-wik] is a town in York County, incorporated on February 12, 1814 from a portion of Berwick, which was named for an old English town.

It annexed land from York (1834) and from Berwick (1841, 1881).

It was settled in about 1624 at a time when the Indians were still living at Quanpegan Falls, “dip net falls” or “the place where fish are taken in nets.” Below the falls, the salmon were trapped using weirs.

Civil War Memorial (2001)

Civil War Memorial (2001)

Salmon Falls River, which marks the town’s and the state’s boundary with New Hampshire, was named for this fishing place.

The first sawmill in America was built on the Great Works River, a tributary to the Salmon Falls River, in 1650.

Maine’s oldest educational institution, Berwick Academy, was established here in 1791 when the town was part of Berwick.

Once a boarding school, this private school now is a daytime K-12 school serving southern Maine and New Hampshire

Downtown South Berwick (2012)

Downtown South Berwick, Jewett House at Right (2012)

Marshwood Great Works School (2012)

Marshwood Great Works School (2012) @

The Counting House of the Portsmouth Company, built about 1830, is the sole surviving building of the 19th century cotton mills in the town.

Many other historic sites may be found throughout the community.

Sarah Orne Jewett House (2001)

Sarah Orne Jewett House (’01)

South Berwick is the birthplace of Sarah Orne Jewett, who attended Berwick Academy for four years — her only formal education. She remained in the town virtually all her life.

The town is accessible to the coastal communities of York and Kittery via Maine Routes 91 and 236.

Berwick Academy (2001)Berwick Academy (2001)Berwick Academy (2001)Berwick Academy Grounds (2001)

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Council-Manager.

Additional resources

Carroll, Gladys Hasty. Wings of Berwick Academy Over the Township of South Berwick and its Neighbors (Late 1800’s and early 1900’s). South Berwick, Maine. Dunnybrook Historical Foundation. 1992.

Frosst, George Washington. Quamphegan Landing. South Berwick, Me. Old Berwick Historical Society. 2001.

Hilton, Fannie Mulloy. Memories of a Little Country Church, or, A brief History of the South Berwick and Wells Christian Church. South Berwick, Me. F.M. Hilton?. 1969. (Chronicle Print Shop)

Jewett, Mary Rice. South Berwick Village and the Fire of 1870. South Berwick, Me. Old Berwick Historical Society. c2002.

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

Berwick Academy Historic District: 78000336.PDF
Jonathan Hamilton House: 70000082.PDF

Pirsig, Wendy K. The Placenames of South Berwick. Old Berwick Historical Society. Portsmouth, NH. Back Channel Press. c2007.

Seaver, Josiah W. Papers, 1839-1845. (Cataloger Note: Josiah W. Seaver was a resident of South Berwick, Maine. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College, served two terms in the Maine Senate after 1820 and was in the Maine House of Representatives in the 1830s. He also served as revenue collector of the 8th Massachusetts District and was sheriff of York County, Maine, in 1824.) [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Berwick Academy

[Academy Street] Berwick Academy historic district is important for the history and architectural merits of the individual buildings, and the significance of Berwick Academy in the educational history of Maine.

In 1790 the citizens of Berwick, Wells and York raised five hundred pounds in each town to help establish the Academy. Judge Benjamin Chadbourne donated ten acres in South Berwick for the school. The land had been purchased by his grandfather Humphrey Chadbourne from the Newichawannock Indians in 1623, and has the oldest recorded deed in Maine.

On March 11th, 1791  the charter for Berwick Academy, the first in Maine, came from Boston. It was signed by the Governor of Massachusetts, John Hancock. The 1791 House was built for housing and classroom space, functioning in those two capacities until outgrown in 1823. Finding 1500 pounds, raised by the citizens, insufficient to run the school, Berwick Academy was given a 23,000 acre endowment in 1792. Granted by the Massachusetts legislature on the condition of immediate sale, this land in the Kennebec Valley (now-Athens) was sold for $4,400.

The expenses for the Academy included 500 pounds to build the 1791 House, and 90 pounds for the salary of the first headmaster, Samuel Moody. He also was given the right to assess each student six pence a week to supplement his income. The finances of the institution were seriously damaged, however, when 142 pounds were lost in a fire at the home of the treasurer, Dr. Ivory Hovey.

The 1791 House, the oldest secondary school building in Maine, was sold for $500 in 1823, and was moved to Main Street to become a private residence. Originally an all male school, Berwick trustees voted in 1797 to admit females. No girl took up on the offer, and it was rescinded in 1813. The trustees again voted to admit women in 1828. This time four women availed themselves of the privilege. Although they were officially attending the Berwick Female Seminary, the buildings and the faculty were the same. In 1854, the women were awarded Berwick Academy diplomas as they have been ever since.

The Academy again hit financial hard times in 1817 and was forced to close until 1819. In 1828, the trustees appropriated $1,600 for a new building, if that figure could be matched by outside contributors. Judge William A. Hayes led the funding effort which succeeded in raising $1,700, $500 from Hayes himself. Unfortunately, this building burned in the “Rum Rebellion” in 1851.

Hon. Francis B. Hayes, son of Judge Hayes, was put in charge of obtaining plans for a new building. These were drawn by noted architect Richard UpJohn of New York. The new building was dedicated in December 1853.

Between the fire in 1851, and the completion of the new building in 1853, the Academy held its meetings in the town. The benevolence of the Hayes family continued. Members served as fundraisers, presidents and trustees. Also remembered for establishing the Fogg Museum at Harvard, Hayes philanthropy was again bestowed on Berwick Academy in 1892. In that year, Mrs. Elizabeth Perkins Fogg left $50,000 to the Academy in memory of her husband who had been a student at the Academy. Two other members of the family also contributed.

The Fogg Memorial building was built in 1894 to replace the 1853 Academy building and house the library and classrooms. George A. Clough, a Boston architect and native of Blue Hill, drew the plans for this beautifully sited and grandly conceived Romanesque Revival building. The stained glass windows of the Fogg Memorial were designed by Sarah Whitman, a noted Boston artist and a friend of Berwick’s distinguished alumna, Sarah Orne Jewett. In the 20th century, Berwick Academy enlarged its program to include the curriculum of a comprehensive high school of its own and the Academy served the Berwick area.

In the mid-1950s a serious attempt was made to strengthen the college preparatory course, and the school facilities. In 1964, the original 1791 House was returned to the Academy campus to be the oldest original frame schoolhouse in active use for school purposes in the United States. The Dunaway House, now the Headmaster’s residence, was acquired by the Academy in 1968. This handsome Federal house of 1811 contains exceptionally fine French pictorial wallpaper of the 1830s.

After 1894, the Fogg Memorial library was open for public use. Berwick Academy remains a living monument to the heritage of education, and to the citizens who served their community by supporting it.*

Cummings Shoe Factory, 2 Railroad Avenue, South Berwick

Conway Junction Railroad Turntable Site, Fife Lane and Route 236

Hamilton, Jonathan, House, National Historic Landmark

Jonathan Hamilton House (1970)

Jonathan Hamilton House (1970)

[Vaughan’s Lane and Old South Road] Still in its beautiful and undisturbed rural setting, the 1788 Hamilton House is a magnificent and little-altered example of a large New England frame Georgian country house. Jonathan Hamilton, a Portsmouth, N.H. merchant, bought this land at Pipe Stave Point on the Piscataqua River in 1783 and built this large house, his residence until his death in 1802. [National Park Service photo]

The house stood vacant from 1815 until 1839. In 1898 it and 110 acres were acquired by Mrs. Emily D. Tyson, who made minor structural changes. In 1949, Mrs. Henry G. Vaughan, Mrs. Tyson’s daughter, willed Hamilton House and 50 acres, along with income from a trust fund, to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, which restored the mansion to its original features.*

Jewett, Sarah Orne, House, National Historic Landmark, Maine Routes 4 and 236. [See Sarah Orne Jewett]

Jewett-Eastman House, 37 Portland Street

Portsmouth Company Cotton Mills: Counting House, Maine Route 4 at Salmon Falls River

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