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Waterville, Maine
City Hall and Opera House in 1905
City Hall and Opera House in 1905
Official seal of Waterville, Maine
Elm City
Location in Kennebec County and the state of Maine.
Location in Kennebec County and the state of Maine.
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
 • Total 14.05 sq mi (36.39 km2)
 • Land 13.58 sq mi (35.17 km2)
 • Water 0.47 sq mi (1.22 km2)
108 ft (33 m)
 • Total 15,722
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,157.7/sq mi (447.0/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-80740
GNIS feature ID 0577893
One Post Office Square in Waterville, ME IMG 2630
One Post Office Square, a multiple-use facility, in downtown Waterville
Downtown Waterville, ME IMG 2639
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.

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. 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. The film Wet Hot American Summer is set in Waterville.


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 on the east bank of the Kennebec River at its confluence with the Sebasticook River at what is now Winslow. 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.

The township would be organized as Kingfield Plantation, then incorporated as Winslow in 1771. When residents on the west side of the Kennebec found themselves unable to cross the river to attend town meetings, Waterville was set off from Winslow and incorporated on June 23, 1802. In 1824 a bridge was built joining the communities. 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.

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.

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 cotton textile plant. A second mill was added, and by 1900 the firm dominated the riverfront and employed 1,300 workers. Lockwood Mills survived until the mid-1950s. The iron Waterville-Winslow Footbridge opened in 1901, as a means for Waterville residents to commute to Winslow for work in the Hollingsworth & Whitney Co. and Wyandotte Worsted Co. mills, but in less than a year was carried away by the highest river level since 1832. Rebuilt in 1903, it would be called the Two Cent Bridge because of its toll. In 1902, the Beaux-Arts style City Hall and Opera House designed by George Gilman Adams was dedicated. In 2002, the 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.


Waterville is located at 44°33′07″N 69°38′45″W / 44.552051°N 69.645839°W / 44.552051; -69.645839.

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. Situated beside the Kennebec River, Waterville is drained by the Messalonskee Stream.

Waterville is served by Interstate 95 (Maine), Maine State Routes 137, 104 and U.S. Route 201. It is bordered by Fairfield on the north, Winslow on the east, Sidney on the south and Oakland on the west.


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.

Climate data for Waterville, Maine
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61.0
Average high °F (°C) 27.6
Average low °F (°C) 11
Record low °F (°C) −36.0
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.61


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. 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). 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.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 1,314
1820 1,719 30.8%
1830 2,216 28.9%
1840 2,971 34.1%
1850 3,964 33.4%
1860 4,390 10.7%
1870 4,852 10.5%
1880 4,672 −3.7%
1890 7,107 52.1%
1900 9,477 33.3%
1910 11,458 20.9%
1920 13,351 16.5%
1930 15,454 15.8%
1940 16,688 8.0%
1950 18,287 9.6%
1960 18,695 2.2%
1970 18,192 −2.7%
1980 17,779 −2.3%
1990 17,173 −3.4%
2000 15,605 −9.1%
2010 15,722 0.7%
Est. 2015 16,261 3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
Junction of Silver & Elm Streets, Waterville, ME
Silver and Elm streets (1910), showing the Universalist Church, which was established in 1832
Waterville, ME population, since 2000
Population of Waterville, ME from 2000 to 2015.

2010 census

As of the census 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 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, Waterville, ME
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. 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.


  • Robert LaFleur Airport
  • Interstate 95
  • US Route 201
  • State Route 100A
  • State Route 137
  • State Route 32
  • State Route 137 Business
  • State Route 11
  • State Route 104
  • Pan Am Railways: Waterville Intermodal Facility

In popular culture

Waterville is the set location of Camp Firewood in the hit NetFlix show Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Sister cities

Sites of interest

Civil War Union Army monument, Waterville, ME IMG 2641
Monument to Union Army soldiers in Waterville
Waterville CC 02
Waterville Country Club golf course
  • Colby College
  • Maine International Film Festival
  • Perkins Arboretum
  • Waterville Public Library
  • Waterville - Winslow Footbridge (Two Cent Bridge)

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