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Kittery, Maine facts for kids

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Kittery, Maine
Old Block House at Fort McClary (c. 1908)
Old Block House at Fort McClary (c. 1908)
Official seal of Kittery, Maine
Gateway to Maine
Kittery, Maine is located in Maine
Kittery, Maine
Kittery, Maine
Location in Maine
Country  United States
State  Maine
County York
Settled 1623
Incorporated 1647
 • Total 75.30 sq mi (195.03 km2)
 • Land 17.78 sq mi (46.05 km2)
 • Water 57.52 sq mi (148.98 km2)
23 ft (7 m)
 • Total 10,070
 • Density 566/sq mi (218.7/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-37270
GNIS feature ID 0582544

Kittery is a town in York County, Maine, United States. Home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey's Island, Kittery includes Badger's Island, the seaside district of Kittery Point, and part of the Isles of Shoals. The town is a tourist destination known for its many outlet stores. It is the southernmost town in Maine.

Kittery is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The town's population was 10,070 at the 2020 census. Kittery may be the namesake of William Billings' 1783 anthem "Kittery", which is printed in the Shenandoah Harmony and Missouri Harmony shape note tunebooks, but because the song was published after the incorporation of the town, this is debated.


English settlement around the natural harbor of the Piscataqua River estuary began about 1623. By 1632 it was protected by Fort William and Mary on today's New Hampshire side of the river; in 1689 defensive works that later became Fort McClary in Kittery Point were added on today's Maine side to the north.

Kittery was incorporated in 1647, staking a claim as the "oldest incorporated town in Maine."Though the municipalities of Portland and Biddeford were settled first. It was named after the birthplace of a founder, Alexander Shapleigh, from his manor of Kittery Court at Kingswear in Devon, England. Shapleigh arrived in 1635 aboard the ship Benediction, which he co-owned with another prominent settler, Captain Francis Champernowne, a cousin of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, lord proprietor of Maine. Together with the Pepperrell family, they established fisheries offshore at the Isles of Shoals, where fish were caught, salted, and exported back to Europe. Other pioneers were hunters, trappers, and workers of the region's abundant timber. The settlement at the mouth of the Piscataqua River was protected by Fort McClary.

Thomas Spencer, Esquire, immigrant from Gloucestershire, England, is also a notable settler of Kittery with his wife Patience Chadbourne. Their story is included in, "The Maine Spencers : a history and genealogy, with mention of many associated families."

Kittery originally extended from the Atlantic Ocean inland up the Salmon Falls River, including the present-day towns of Eliot, South Berwick, Berwick and North Berwick. Located opposite Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the town developed into a center for trade and shipbuilding. After the death of Gorges, Maine in 1652 became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Francis Small was a pioneer resident of Kittery, and operated a trading post near the confluence of the Ossipee River and Saco River. Here major Indian trails converged—the Sokokis Trail (now Route 5), the Ossipee Trail (now Route 25), and the Pequawket Trail (now Route 113) -- a location conducive towards lucrative fur trade with Indians, but also with risks of living isolated in the wilderness. Small became the largest property owner in the history of Maine, and became known as "the great landowner."

In 1663, John Josselyn would write: "Towns there are, are not many in this province. Kittery, situated not far from Passacataway (Portsmouth), is the most populous."

In 1705, during Queen Anne's War tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy raided the town killing six citizens and taking five prisoners.

During the Revolution, the first vessels of the U.S. Navy were constructed on Badger's Island, including the 1777 USS Ranger commanded by John Paul Jones. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the nation's first federal navy yard, was established in 1800 on Fernald's Island. It connects to the mainland by two bridges. The facility rebuilt the USS Constitution, and built the Civil War USS Kearsarge. Seavey's Island was annexed and became site of the now defunct Portsmouth Naval Prison.

Kittery has some fine early architecture, including the Sir William Pepperrell House, built in 1733, and the Lady Pepperrell House, built in 1760. The John Bray House, built in 1662, is believed to be the oldest surviving house in Maine. Located at the John Paul Jones State Historic Site on U.S. 1 is the Maine Sailors' and Soldiers' Memorial by Bashka Paeff. Further northeast up the road, the town has developed factory outlet shopping, very popular with tourists. Kittery Point is home to Seapoint Beach and Fort Foster Park, originally a harbor defense. In 1905, The Treaty of Portsmouth formerly ending the Russo-Japanese war, was signed at the shipyard. In 1996, the movie Thinner, based on the 1984 Stephen King-penned novel Thinner, was filmed in Kittery. The Saturday morning cartoon DinoSquad is based in Kittery/Kittery Point.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 75.30 square miles (195.03 km2), of which, 17.78 square miles (46.05 km2) of it is land and 57.52 square miles (148.98 km2) is water. Situated beside the Gulf of Maine and Atlantic Ocean, Kittery is drained by Spruce Creek, Chauncey Creek and the Piscataqua River.

The town is crossed by Interstate 95, U.S. Route 1, Maine State Route 101, Maine State Route 103, and Maine State Route 236.


See also Kittery (CDP), Maine and Kittery Point, Maine for village demographics
Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 3,259
1800 3,114 −4.4%
1810 2,019 −35.2%
1820 1,886 −6.6%
1830 2,202 16.8%
1840 2,435 10.6%
1850 2,706 11.1%
1860 2,974 9.9%
1870 3,333 12.1%
1880 3,230 −3.1%
1890 2,864 −11.3%
1900 2,872 0.3%
1910 3,533 23.0%
1920 4,763 34.8%
1930 4,400 −7.6%
1940 5,374 22.1%
1950 8,380 55.9%
1960 10,689 27.6%
1970 11,028 3.2%
1980 9,314 −15.5%
1990 9,372 0.6%
2000 9,543 1.8%
2010 9,490 −0.6%
2020 10,070 6.1%

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 9,490 people, 4,302 households, and 2,488 families living in the town. The population density was 533.7 inhabitants per square mile (206.1/km2). There were 4,942 housing units at an average density of 278.0 per square mile (107.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.1% White, 0.01% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.

There were 4,302 households, of which 23.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.2% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.77.

The median age in the town was 43.2 years. 18.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26% were from 25 to 44; 30.3% were from 45 to 64; and 17.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

Sites of interest


Kittery is home to Robert William Traip Academy (9–12), a formerly private, preparatory school which became public and town-run in 1967. Kittery is also home to Horace Mitchell Primary School (K–3) and Shapleigh School (4–8).

Notable people

Whaleback Light, Kittery, ME
Whaleback Light c. 1920
  • Jess Abbott, guitarist of the band Now, Now
  • William Badger, master shipbuilder
  • Devin Beliveau, state representative
  • John Haley Bellamy, woodcarver, folk artist
  • George Berry, captain, shipbuilder
  • Dennis C. Blair, admiral
  • Scott Brown, ambassador, senator from Massachusetts (2010–2013)
  • Tunis Craven, naval officer
  • Shem Drowne, metalworker, creator of Boston's Grasshopper Weathervane
  • Elisha T. Gardner, Wisconsin politician, lawyer
  • William Dean Howells, writer, magazine editor
  • Sandi Jackson, Chicago city alderman
  • Kenneth F. Lemont, state legislator
  • Jeremiah O'Brien, naval officer
  • John O'Hurley, television actor and game show host
  • Joseph T. Palastra Jr., U.S. Army General
  • Sir William Pepperrell, merchant, soldier
  • Hunt Slonem, artist
  • Francis Small, trader and landowner
  • Celia Thaxter, poet
  • John Treworgie, last proprietary governor of Newfoundland
  • Donald Valle (1908–1977), American businessman and owner of the eponymously named Valle's Steak House
  • Walter Wheeler, state representative
  • William Whipple, signer of the Declaration of Independence
Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Inventors:
Valerie Thomas
Frederick McKinley Jones
George Edward Alcorn Jr.
Thomas Mensah
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