Wells, Maine

Wells is a town in York County, Maine, United States. Founded in 1643, it is the third-oldest town in Maine.[4] The population in 2010 was 9,589. Wells Beach is a popular summer destination.

Wells, Maine
Town Hall
Town Hall
Flag of Wells, Maine

The Friendliest Town In Maine
Wells, Maine is located in Maine
Wells, Maine
Wells, Maine
Location within the state of Maine
Coordinates: 43°19′13″N 70°36′42″W / 43.32028°N 70.61167°WCoordinates: 43°19′13″N 70°36′42″W / 43.32028°N 70.61167°W
CountryUnited States
 • TypeTown Meeting, Board of Selectmen, Town Manager
 • Town ManagerJonathan Carter
 • Total73.61 sq mi (190.65 km2)
 • Land57.55 sq mi (149.05 km2)
 • Water16.06 sq mi (41.60 km2)
177 ft (54 m)
 • Total9,589
 • Estimate 
 • Density166.6/sq mi (64.3/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
04054 (Moody), 04090 (Wells)
Area code(s)207
FIPS code23-81475
GNIS feature ID0582799


The Abenaki Indians called the area Webhannet, meaning "at the clear stream", a reference to the Webhannet River.

Edmund Littlefield, an immigrant from the wool regions of Titchfield, England, built the first gristmill and later a woolen mill on the Webhannet River, becoming known as "The Father of Wells," where a monument commemorates his contribution. In 1622, the Plymouth Company in England awarded to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Lord Proprietor of Maine, territory which included the Plantation of Wells. His young cousin, Thomas Gorges, acting as deputy and agent, in 1641 granted to Rev. John Wheelwright and other settlers from Exeter, New Hampshire the right to populate the land from northeast of the Ogunquit River to southwest of the Kennebunk River. Following the death of the elder Gorges in 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony laid claim to Maine. In 1653, Wells was incorporated, the third town in Maine to do so, and named after Wells, England, a small cathedral city in the county of Somerset. It then included Kennebunk, set off the year Maine became a state in 1820, and Ogunquit, designated a village within Wells by the legislature in 1913, then set off in 1980.[5]

Wells was the resilient northeastern frontier of English settlement. Except for a few forts and garrisons, early attempts to colonize Maine above Wells were abandoned because of attacks by Native Americans, who resented encroachment by New England in territory they considered theirs. Wells endured three major attacks, most famously the Raid on Wells in 1692. The region became less dangerous, however, after the Battle of Louisburg in 1745.[5]

Many early Wells settlers joined the Continental Army and were Revolutionary War heroes including Captains Samuel Gooch, Nathanial Littlefield, and Jeremiah Storer. Ocean View Cemetery on Post Road contains a well designed Civil War monument and plot honoring its service members. Visitors can walk to Founder's Park just off of Post Road onto Sanford Road, which includes a light walking trail, picnic area, and the first settlement home. Monuments list the names of Wells' founding families.

The town developed as a farming community, producing hay and vegetables. Other industries included shipbuilding and fisheries. In the 19th century, with the arrival of the railroad, the town's beautiful beaches attracted tourists. Many inns and hotels were built along the seashore. Today, tourism remains important to the economy.[6]

Wells Police Department color guard marching in the town's 350th anniversary parade.

Wells celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2003.[7] The year-long celebration included a New Year's Eve party with fireworks, parade, a visit by the traveling Russian circus, concerts, historical reenactments, and more. The town commissioned a member of the celebration committee, Kristi Borst, to design a town flag. Her design portrays historic aspects of the Town's settlement and agriculture as well as the 2003 Town Hall and focus on tourism represented by a train. Also included is the motto she penned for the project: "Proud of our Past, Ready for our Future".[8]


Wells Maine Town Hall 1922
Wells Town Hall in 1922.

Wells is on the southern coast of Maine, surrounded by Kennebunk to the northeast, Sanford to the northwest, North Berwick to the west, South Berwick to the southwest, and Ogunquit to the south.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 73.61 square miles (190.65 km2), of which, 57.55 square miles (149.05 km2) of it is land and 16.06 square miles (41.60 km2) is water.[1] Wells is drained by the Webhannet River. The highest point in town is an unnamed hill located a half mile south of the intersection of State Route 9 and Bragdon Road, which is 360 feet (110 m) above sea level. The lowest elevation is sea level, along the coastline with the Atlantic Ocean.

Wells is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Railroad Station, Wells Beach, ME
B&M railroad station in 1910.

There are several transportation corridors connecting Wells with other communities:

Access to the Amtrak national passenger rail system is available at the Wells Regional Transportation Center, which is served by 10 Downeaster trains per day. The center has a park and ride lot and is adjacent to the I-95 interchange.


Wells Junior High School (built in 1937 as the third Wells High School).

There are four educational institutions in Wells: Wells Elementary School (kindergarten through fourth grade), Wells Junior High School (fifth grade through eighth grade), Wells High School (ninth grade through twelfth grade, as well as adult education programs), and York County Community College.

Wells is a member of the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District.

Places of worship

First Congregational Church, Wells ME
First Congregational Church (now the Meetinghouse Museum).


Christian, interdenominational

Church of the Nazarene


Roman Catholic

  • Saint Mary's Church

Old Catholic

United Church of Christ

Points of interest

Hotel Winona & Wells Beach, ME
Wells Beach in 1908
Southern end of the Wells Beach IMG 2247 FRD
Wells Beach in 2017

Notable people

Wells High School Marching Band
Wells Fire Department tower truck #6


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201410,009[11]4.4%

2010 Census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 9,589 people, 4,120 households, and 2,734 families residing in the town. The population density was 166.6 inhabitants per square mile (64.3/km2). There were 8,557 housing units at an average density of 148.7 per square mile (57.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.2% White, 0.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 4,120 households of which 24.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.6% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.77.

The median age in the town was 48.5 years. 18.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.2% were from 25 to 44; 34.8% were from 45 to 64; and 21% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census,[15] there were 9,400 people, 4,004 households, and 2,690 families residing in the town. The population density was 163.1 people per square mile (63.0/km²). There were 7,794 housing units at an average density of 135.2 per square mile (52.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.18% White, 0.23% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.14% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.64% of the population.

There were 4,004 households out of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 6.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the town, the population was spread out with 21.0% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $46,314, and the median income for a family was $53,644. Males had a median income of $39,682 versus $28,463 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,130. About 3.1% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.


Wells High School (2016)

Wells High School

Wells maine div 9 schoolhouse 2006

One of Wells' many one-room schools, preserved as a museum.

Wells maine municipal offices sign 2006

Sign at town hall

EMD GP40 B&M 339 Wells Maine

Freight train at Wells Industrial Park

Wells maine transportation center memorial clock 2006

Memorial clock near train station

Laudholm mainbuilding

Laudholm main building

First Parish Church, Kennebunk

First Parish Unitarian-Universalist Church, Kennebunk, built in 1749 when Kennebunk was still part of Wells.

Boat Landing, Wells Beach, ME

Boat landing in 1916

Ogunquit River 1

Ogunquit River in Moody, 2016


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Geo. J. Varney. "History of Wells, Maine." A Gazetteer of the State of Maine, Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill, Boston 1886. Transcribed by Betsey S. Webber.
  5. ^ a b Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 349–353.
  6. ^ Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Wells, Boston: Russell
  7. ^ Hagan, Jennifer (January 1, 2004). "Kids Circus fitting finale for celebration". York County Coast Star. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  8. ^ "Hope M. Shelley, "A History of Wells, Maine". Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  9. ^ "10 things to do in Wells". Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  10. ^ databaseFootball.com Archived November 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Archived from the original on May 23, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  12. ^ https://www.census.gov/population/www/censusdata/cencounts/files/me190090.txt
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  14. ^ http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/
  15. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.

Further reading

  • Wright, Virginia. "Shifting Sands: Wells". Down East: The Magazine of Maine (November 2007).

External links

Daniel W. Gooch

Daniel Wheelwright Gooch (January 8, 1820 – November 11, 1891) was a United States Representative from Massachusetts.

Early Cape houses of Wells, Maine

The Early Cape houses of Wells, Maine, are a collection of 18th-century Cape style houses in or near the town of Wells, Maine. The town has a concentration of these houses that is unusual in the state of Maine. In the 1970s the town conducted a detailed street survey, in which 19 historically significant 18th-century Cape houses were identified either in or just outside the municipal boundaries. These buildings were subsequently listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 1979.

Eaton House (Wells, Maine)

The Eaton House is an historic house on Sanford Road in Wells, Maine. Built in the late 18th century, it is one of a collection of well-preserved 18th-century Cape style houses in Wells. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, listed as being in the North Berwick area.

Former First Congregational Church (Wells, Maine)

The Former First Congregational Church is a historic church building at 938 Post Road, on the corner of Rt. 1 and Buzzell Road in Wells, Maine. It was built in 1862 on the site of the first colonial meeting house in Wells, believed to have been built in 1664. The building is a fine example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It now serves as the museum of the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

George Burroughs

George Burroughs (c. 1652 – August 19, 1692), was the only minister executed for witchcraft during the course of the Salem witch trials.

Hatch House (Wells, Maine)

The Hatch House is an historic house at 2104 Sanford Road in Wells, Maine. Built about 1800, it is one of a collection of well-preserved 18th-century Cape style houses in Wells. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, listed as being in the North Berwick area.

John Fairfield Scamman

John Fairfield Scamman (or Scammon) (October 24, 1786 – May 22, 1858) was a United States Representative from Maine. He was born in Wells (then a district of Massachusetts) on October 24, 1786. He attended the common schools, then engaged in mercantile pursuits.

Jonathan Courtney

Jonathan Courtney (born July 16, 1966) is an American politician from Maine. Courtney served as a Republican State Senator from Maine's 3rd District, representing part of York County including Sanford and his home in Springvale. He was first elected in 2002 to the Maine House of Representatives and served one term. He was elected to the Maine Senate in 2004 was unable to run for re-election due to term limits in 2012. He is the Republican Party's Majority Leader in the State Senate.

Courtney grew up in Wells, Maine and graduated from Marshwood High School in South Berwick, Maine.In April 2012, after qualifying to run for the Republican nomination, Courtney officially announced his campaign. He won the primary, and faced incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree in the November 2012 election. He was easily defeated by Pingree in the general election.

Maine Diner

The Maine Diner is a diner in Wells, Maine. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The diner, which has a seating capacity of 90 and a year-round staff of about 60, serves an average of 1,200 to 1,500 patrons on a peak summer day. The restaurant is known for its seafood chowder and lobster pie and other Down East fare. It serves breakfast all day. Many of its vegetables and herbs come from a garden behind the building.

"Oft-hyped and popular with tourists", the diner served its 2-millionth guest in 1999 and its 5-millionth on December 17, 2008.

Nathaniel Littlefield

Nathaniel Littlefield (September 20, 1804 – August 15, 1882) was a United States Representative from Maine.

Raid on Wells (1692)

The Raid on Wells occurred during King William's War when French and Wabanaki Confederacy forces from New France attacked the English settlement at Wells, Maine, a frontier town on the coast below Acadia. The principal attack (1692) was led by La Brognerie, who was killed. Commander of the garrison, Captain James Converse, successfully repelled the raid despite being greatly outnumbered.


Ryan Michael Peters (born July 1, 1985), better known by the stage name Spose, is an American rapper from Wells, Maine.

Steve Lavigne

Steve Lavigne (born September 22, 1962) is an American comic book illustrator best known for his lettering and coloring on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title for Mirage Studios. He is the creator of Cudley the Cowlick, Sgt. Bananas, and Stump and Sling.

Wells High School

Wells High School is a public school located in Wells, Maine. It has an enrollment of 450 students in grades 9 through 12. The school primarily serves students from Wells, as well as a small number of students from Ogunquit, which was part of the town of Wells until 1980 and has never had its own high school. From 1968 until 2006, Wells High School also served students from the town of Acton, which has also never had a high school of its own.For the 2013–2014 school year, Wells High School had a graduation rate of 100% — the highest graduation rate of any public high school in Maine. It is among the top 10 best high schools in Maine, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Maine Department of Education also ranks Wells High School in the top 10 statewide, and #1 in York County.Wells High School is the sole high school in the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District, and is also home to the district's adult education and distance education programs.

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, located in Wells, Maine, USA, is 2,250 acres (9.1 km2) of protected land headquartered at a restored saltwater farm called Laudholm. As a National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Wells Reserve works to expand knowledge of coasts and estuaries, engage people in environmental learning, and involve communities in conservation, all with a goal of protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems around the Gulf of Maine. Wells Reserve funding is largely through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the nonprofit Laudholm Trust.

Wells Regional Transportation Center

Wells Regional Transportation Center is a train station in Wells, Maine served by Amtrak, the national railroad passenger system, and other transportation providers.

It is owned by The Town of Wells.

The train platforms were constructed during the summer and fall of 2001, and were improved over the next six months. The station was built during the spring and summer of 2002.

The station is served five times daily by Amtrak's Downeaster service, and sees an average of about 135 rail passengers each day, making it the second-busiest stop in Maine after Portland.The station, which is open 24 hours, has a Quik-Trak machine, ATM, pay phone, restrooms, snack and beverage vending machines, visitor information, and bicycle racks.

The station sits next to the Pan Am Railways mainline, formerly the Western Route mainline of the Boston & Maine Railroad.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority may add a second platform to the station to allow a sixth train to Brunswick and a commuter trip to Portland.

William Wentworth (elder)

William Wentworth (1616–1697) was a follower of John Wheelwright, and an early settler of New Hampshire. Coming from Alford in Lincolnshire, he likely came to New England with Wheelwright in 1636, but no records are found of him in Boston. When Wheelwright was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his role in the Antinomian Controversy, he established the settlement of Exeter, New Hampshire, and Wentworth followed him there and then to Wells, Maine. After Wheelwright left Wells for Hampton, New Hampshire, Wentworth went to Dover, New Hampshire, and this is where he lived the remainder of his life. He was the proprietor of a sawmill, and held several town offices, but is most noted for being an elder in his Dover church for nearly 40 years. He had 11 children with two wives, and has numerous descendants, including many of great prominence.

York County Community College

York County Community College (also abbreviated YCCC) is a community college located in Wells, Maine. YCCC is one of the seven colleges in the Maine Community College System.

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