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Freeport, Maine
View of downtown
View of downtown
Official seal of Freeport, Maine
Seal
Nickname(s): 
The Birthplace of Maine
Location in Cumberland County and the state of Maine.
Location in Cumberland County and the state of Maine.
Coordinates: 43°50′38″N 70°6′6″W / 43.84389°N 70.10167°W / 43.84389; -70.10167Coordinates: 43°50′38″N 70°6′6″W / 43.84389°N 70.10167°W / 43.84389; -70.10167
Country  United States
State  Maine
County Cumberland
Incorporated February 14, 1789
Villages Freeport
Bustins Island
Cushing Briggs
Mast Landing
Pleasant Hill
Porter Landing
South Freeport
Wardtown
Area
 • Total 46.47 sq mi (120.36 km2)
 • Land 34.70 sq mi (89.87 km2)
 • Water 11.77 sq mi (30.48 km2)
Elevation
36 ft (11 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 7,879
 • Estimate 
(2012)
8,039
 • Density 227.1/sq mi (87.7/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
04032–04034
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-26525
GNIS feature ID 0582481

Freeport is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 7,879 at the 2010 census. Once home to a prominent shipbuilding industry, timber operations, and farming, it is now known for its numerous outlet stores; Freeport is home to L.L. Bean, Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, and the Desert of Maine.

Freeport is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The Harraseeket Historic District is in Freeport.

History

The town was once a part of North Yarmouth called Harraseeket, after the Harraseeket River. First settled about 1700, it was set off and incorporated on February 14, 1789 as Freeport. It is probably named "from the openness of its harbor" (free from ice). Freeport developed as four villages—Mast Landing, Porter's Landing, South Freeport and Freeport Corner—all of which are now part of the Harraseeket Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At the head of tide on the Harraseeket River is Mast Landing, from which timber was shipped, particularly for use as masts. The estuary was dammed to provide water power for a gristmill, sawmill and fulling mill, with modest manufacturing and woodworking. Porter's Landing was involved in shipbuilding, important in Freeport following the Revolutionary War. The industry reached its peak in the decade between 1850 and 1860, but declined with the Civil War. South Freeport, the largest of the waterfront villages, once had four shipyards. Other businesses included fishing, canning and farming. In 1903, the Casco Castle and Amusement Park was built here by Amos Gerald to encourage travel by trolley cars. The hotel burned in 1914, but its tower still stands. Freeport Corner was an inland village for farming and trade, but the 1849 entrance of the railroad helped it develop into the town's commercial center, which it remains. In the 1800s, fabric was sent from New York and Boston to be made into clothing by local piece workers. Businessman E. B. Mallet established here a sawmill, brickyard, granite quarry and large shoe factory.

In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean opened a store in the basement of his brother's apparel shop at Freeport Corner, selling the "Bean Boot" (or Maine Hunting Shoe). This store, L. L. Bean, became so popular that in 1951 it started remaining open 24 hours a day. Its retail and mail order catalog facilities expanded into Freeport's principal business, and a worldwide company with annual sales of over a billion dollars.

In 1982, McDonald's made plans to tear down an 1850s Greek Revival house to build one of its standard stores. Outcry from residents caused the town to adopt new ordinances concerning what businesses could and couldn't do with their buildings, and McDonald's built the restaurant inside the house, maintaining the exterior appearance. This was one of the first times that McDonald's had been forced to change its restaurant design to fit local requirements.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 46.47 square miles (120.36 km2), of which, 34.70 square miles (89.87 km2) of it is land and 11.77 square miles (30.48 km2) is water. Situated at the northeastern extremity of Casco Bay, Freeport is drained by the Harraseeket River.

Freeport borders Brunswick and Durham to the north, Pownal to the west, and Yarmouth to the southwest. Freeport also shares small borders with Cumberland and Harpswell in Casco Bay. Cumberland and Harpswell are not connected to Freeport by roads, but since Freeport's town border ranges out into Casco Bay, the other towns' borders meet Freeport's.

Climate

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, Freeport has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.

Transportation

Both U.S. 1 and Interstate-295 run directly through Freeport, the latter with three and a half exits.

Amtrak's Downeaster train service stops at Freeport station with service to the Portland Transportation Center and Boston's North Station.

Demographics

See also: Freeport (CDP), Maine
Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 1,320
1800 2,237 69.5%
1810 2,184 −2.4%
1820 2,184 0.0%
1830 2,623 20.1%
1840 2,662 1.5%
1850 2,629 −1.2%
1860 2,792 6.2%
1870 2,457 −12.0%
1880 2,279 −7.2%
1890 2,482 8.9%
1900 2,339 −5.8%
1910 2,460 5.2%
1920 2,488 1.1%
1930 2,184 −12.2%
1940 2,764 26.6%
1950 3,280 18.7%
1960 4,055 23.6%
1970 4,781 17.9%
1980 5,863 22.6%
1990 6,905 17.8%
2000 7,800 13.0%
2010 7,879 1.0%
2014 (est.) 8,224 4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 7,879 people, 3,209 households, and 2,173 families residing in the town. The population density was 227.1 inhabitants per square mile (87.7/km2). There were 3,690 housing units at an average density of 106.3 per square mile (41.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.2% White, 0.6% African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 3,209 households, of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.8% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 32.3% were non-families. Of all households, 25.1% were made up of individuals, and 10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.89.

The median age in the town was 45 years. 22.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22% were from 25 to 44; 34.7% were from 45 to 64; and 15.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 47.4% male and 52.6% female.

Sites of interest

View of Main Street, Freeport, ME
Main Street c. 1910
Freeport main street 07.07.2012 14-19-36
Main Street 2012
  • Desert of Maine

Education

Freeport is part of Regional School Unit #5. Becky Foley is the Superintendent.

Public schools

  • Morse Street School, grades K–2
  • Mast Landing School, grades 3–5
  • Freeport Middle School, grades 6–8
  • Freeport High School, grades 9–12

Private schools

Notable people

  • Cyrus Augustus Bartol, pastor and writer
  • Melissa Coleman, author, columnist, and writer
  • Aaron Lufkin Dennison, watchmaker
  • Beth Edmonds, president of the state senate
  • Sara Gideon, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives
  • John Gould, humorist, columnist
  • Donald B. MacMillan, admiral, Arctic explorer
  • Christopher McCormick, businessman
  • Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon gold medalist (1984)
  • Rufus Soule, shipbuilder and state politician
  • Drew Taggart, half of the EDM group The Chainsmokers

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