World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Waterville, Maine

Waterville, Maine
City Hall and Opera House in 1905
City Hall and Opera House in 1905
Official seal of Waterville, Maine
Nickname(s): Elm City
Location in Kennebec County and the state of Maine.
Location in Kennebec County and the state of Maine.
Waterville, Maine is located in USA
Waterville, Maine
Waterville, Maine
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Maine
County Kennebec
Incorporated (town) June 23, 1802
Incorporated January 12, 1888
 • Type Mayor and council-manager
 • Body Waterville City Council
 • Mayor Nicholas Isgro
 • City Manager Mike Roy
 • Total 14.05 sq mi (36.39 km2)
 • Land 13.58 sq mi (35.17 km2)
 • Water 0.47 sq mi (1.22 km2)
Elevation 108 ft (33 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 15,722
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 15,855
 • Density 1,157.7/sq mi (447.0/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 04901
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-80740
GNIS feature ID 0577893
One Post Office Square, a multiple-use facility, in downtown Waterville
View of downtown Waterville (2014)

Waterville is a city in Kennebec County of the U.S. state of Maine, United States, on the west bank of the Kennebec River. Home to Colby College and Thomas College, the population was 15,722 at the 2010 census. Waterville is also the second city which makes up the Augusta-Waterville, ME Micropolitan Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Redevelopment 3
  • Demographics 4
    • 2010 census 4.1
    • 2000 census 4.2
  • Government 5
    • Local government 5.1
    • Political makeup 5.2
  • Transportation 6
  • Media 7
  • In popular culture 8
  • Sister cities 9
  • Sites of interest 10
  • Notable people 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


The area now known as Waterville was once inhabited by the Canibas tribe of Abenaki Indians. Called Taconnet after Chief Taconnet, the main village was located at what is now Winslow, on the east bank of the Kennebec River at its confluence with the Sebasticook River. Known as Ticonic by English settlers, it was burned in 1692 during King William's War, after which the Canibas tribe abandoned the area. Fort Halifax was built by General John Winslow in 1754, and the last skirmish with Indians occurred on May 18, 1757.[4]

The township would be organized as Kingfield Plantation, then incorporated in 1771 as Winslow. Waterville was set off from Winslow and incorporated on June 23, 1802 when residents on the west side of the Kennebec found themselves unable to cross the river to attend town meetings. In 1824, a bridge was built to Winslow. Early industries included fishing, lumbering, agriculture and ship building, with larger boats launched in spring during freshets. By the early 1900s, there were five shipyards in the community.[5]

Ticonic Falls blocked navigation farther upriver, so Waterville developed as the terminus for trade and shipping. The Kennebec River and Messalonskee Stream provided water power for mills, including several sawmills, a gristmill, a sash and blind factory, a furniture factory and a shovel handle factory. There was also a carriage and sleigh factory, boot shop, brickyard and tannery. On September 27, 1849, the Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad opened to Waterville. It would become part of the Maine Central Railroad, which in 1870 established locomotive and car repair shops in the thriving mill town. West Waterville (renamed Oakland) was set off as a town in 1873. Waterville was incorporated as a city on January 12, 1888.[6]

The Ticonic Water Power & Manufacturing Company was formed in 1866 and soon built a dam across the Kennebec. After a change of ownership in 1873, the company began construction on what would become the Lockwood Manufacturing Company, a C. F. Hathaway Company, one of the last remaining factories in the United States producing high-end quality dress shirts, was purchased by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company and was closed after over 160 years of operation in the city.[8]

Waterville also developed as an educational center. In 1813, The Maine Literary and Theological Institution was established. It would be renamed Waterville College in 1821, then Colby College in 1867. Thomas College was established in 1894. The Latin School was founded in 1820 to prepare students to attend Colby and other colleges, and was subsequently named Waterville Academy, Waterville Classical Institute, and Coburn Classical Institute; the Institute merged with the Oak Grove School in Vassalboro in 1970, and remained open until the 1980s. The first public high school was built in 1877, while the current Waterville Senior High School was built in 1961.[4]


Waterville is located at .[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.05 square miles (36.39 km2), of which 13.58 square miles (35.17 km2) is land and 0.47 square miles (1.22 km2) is water.[1] Situated beside the Kennebec River, Waterville is drained by the Messalonskee Stream.


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Waterville has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[10]


Like many other towns in Maine and in the United States, Waterville has seen development in the suburbs and the decline of the downtown area.[11] There have been new businesses and new facilities built by Inland Hospital on Kennedy Memorial Drive. WalMart, Home Depot, and a small strip mall of other stores have been built in the northern part of the city as part of an open-air shopping center. Because of this growth, the existing and now-neighboring Elm Plaza shopping center has recently had its exterior renovated and filled most or all of its previous vacancies.

In contrast, the downtown area has had its share of hardships due to chain store growth in the city. Stores that had a long history in the downtown area have closed in recent decades, including Levine's, Butlers, Sterns, Dunhams, Alvina and Delias, and LaVerdieres. The large vacancy in The Concourse shopping center that once housed the Ames, Zayre department store, as well as Brooks Pharmacy is struggling to find tenants; as is the now vacant Main Street location of a CVS pharmacy (it moved to a brand new building on Kennedy Memorial Drive).[12] Organizations like Waterville Main St continue their efforts to revitalize downtown.

Developer Paul Boghossian has converted the old Hathaway Mill to retail, office, and residential use.[13] MaineGeneral Health agreed at the end of June 2007 to become the first tenant.[14]


Silver and Elm streets (1910), showing the Universalist Church, which was established in 1832

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 15,722 people, 6,370 households, and 3,274 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,157.7 inhabitants per square mile (447.0/km2). There were 7,065 housing units at an average density of 520.3 per square mile (200.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.9% White, 1.1% African American, 0.6% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.4% of the population.

There were 6,370 households of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.9% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.6% were non-families. 38.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.80.

The median age in the city was 36.8 years. 17.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 18.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.7% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 16.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.8% male and 53.2% female.

2000 census

As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 15,605 people, 6,218 households, and 3,370 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,148.7 people per square mile (443.3/km²). There were 6,819 housing units at an average density of 501.9 per square mile (193.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.81% White, 0.78% African American, 0.56% Native American, 1.03% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.42% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.10% of the population. 32% reported French and French Canadian ancestry, 18% English, 11% Irish, and 6% German.

There are 6,218 households out of which 26.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.2% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.8% were non-families. 38.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.7% under the age of 18, 18.5% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 85.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.7 males.

Coburn Classical Institute (c. 1910), burned in 1955

The median income for a household in the city was $26,816, and the median income for a family was $38,052. Males had a median income of $30,086 versus $22,037 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,430. 19.2% of the population and 15.1% of families were below the federal poverty level. Statewide, 10.9% of the population was below the poverty level.[18] In Kennebec County, 11.1% of the population was below the federal poverty level. Thus, although the county poverty rate is close to the state poverty rate, the poverty rate for Waterville is higher—typical for a regional center whose suburbs have grown in population.

Out of the total population, 29.7% of those under the age of 18 and 14.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Local government

Waterville City Hall (2014)

Waterville has a Mayor and council-manager form of government, led by a mayor and a seven-member city council. The city council is the governing board, and the city manager is the chief administrative officer of the City, responsible for the management of all City affairs. For 117 years, the Mayor served as the chief executive officer of the City. In 2005 voters approved a new charter, which changed Waterville's government from a strong Mayor–council government to the Council-Manager format.

Political makeup

Waterville is considered a Democratic stronghold in Maine's 2nd congressional district.[19][20] Barack Obama received 70% of Waterville's votes in the 2008 presidential election.[21]

Voter registration
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of June 2014[22]
Party Total Voters Percentage
  Democratic 4,562 41.25%
  Unenrolled 4,200 37.98%
  Republican 1,940 17.54%
  Green Independent 356 3.21%
Total 11,058 100%



Waterville is home to one daily newspaper, the Morning Sentinel and a weekly, The Colby Echo. The city is also home to Fox affiliate WPFO and Daystar rebroadcaster WFYW-LP both serving the Portland market and to several radio stations including Colby's WMHB, country WEBB, adult standards WTVL and MPBN on 91.3 FM.

In popular culture

The film Wet Hot American Summer is set in Waterville.

Sister cities

Sites of interest

Monument to Union Army soldiers in Waterville
Waterville Country Club golf course

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Events in Waterville History
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Stephen Plocher, "A Short History of Waterville, Maine" (2007)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Climate Summary for Waterville, Maine
  11. ^
  12. ^ Waterville's downtown center faces growing challenges
    Marketing the Concourse
  13. ^ Hathaway center plans to be unveiled tonight at council meeting
  14. ^ Urban renewal spurred project
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Central Maine Growth Council Archived November 22, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^

External links

  • City of Waterville, Maine
  • Waterville Public Library
  • Waterville Main Street
  • , Waterville's newspaperMorning Sentinel
  • Maine Public Broadcasting Network featured Waterville in its Hometown Economies. The video of that show is available here.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.