Hotel Warren .jpg
The Village .jpg
Old Mill.jpg
Sorting & Grading Alewives 1908 .jpg
Frozen River _n.jpg
Georges River Dam & Woolen Mill .jpg

History of the Community

The town of Warren, Maine (Knox County) contains nearly 30,000 acres, and is bordered by Waldoboro, Union, Camden, Rockland, Thomaston and Cushing. Central to the town is the village which is where the head of tide waters of the Georges River, navigable for vessels of light draft, is located.

Warren was a trading post for the Penobscot and Abenaki people as early as 1631. In 1729, in return for aiding in regaining control of Maine from the British, Samuel Waldo received a 576,000 acre parcel of land, which included Warren and the rest of Knox County. In 1736 he went to Germany to recruit settlers for his land. In addition to German immigrants, Warren was also home to Scotch-Irish settlers escaping religious persecution.

In 1776, the first town in Knox county was incorporated and was named in honor of Dr. Joseph Warren. Dr. Warren was associated with Samuel Adams and John Hancock. It is speculated that he used his Boston medical practice to spy on British Loyalists. Dr. Warren was the author of the Suffolk Resolves, which called for the boycott of British goods. It was Dr. Warren who was responsible for dispatching William Dawes and Paul Revere on their midnight rides to warn of impending attack. Additionally, Dr. Warren ordered Benedict Arnold to join forces with the Green Mountain Boys and capture Fort Ticonderoga. The cannons procured in that attack were instrumental in removing the British from Boston in 1776. Unfortunately, while on the battlefield at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, Dr. Warren was recognized by the British and felled by a musket ball.

The first town meeting was held on March 10, 1777. In 1785 the town voted to build a school. The first post office in Warren was established in 1794. The Knox & Lincoln Railroad opened in November 6, 1871. The Warren Free Public Library was established in 1900.

In 1781, a Massachusetts slave successfully argued that slavery was not consistent with the Massachusetts state constitution’s guarantee that “all men are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights.” Following that victory, Massachusetts, of which Maine was a part at the time, became the first state in the country to abolish slavery. Upon hearing of this success, Sarah Peters, kidnapped from Guinea and sold to Captain James McIntyre of Warren, paid one dollar to claim her own freedom. Meanwhile, Amos Peters, born of African and Wampanoag Indian ancestry in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was serving as a soldier in the Continental Army under General Henry Knox. Amos Peters followed General Knox to Maine around 1781 and was given 150 acres of land in the South Pond area of Warren. By 1790 Amos and Sarah had founded the Peterborough Settlement, one of the largest free black communities in Maine. At the time, there were about 96,540 residents in Maine, 538 of who were non-white “free persons,” according to the Maine Historical Society. Within 80 years, Peterborough grew rapidly from 2 to 83 residents and in 1823 became home to one of the first free black schools in the United States. Following the Civil War, Maine experienced a general population decline as residents tried their luck in other parts of the country. By 1910, Peterborough had a population of just 26, and the school closed. By the 1950’s, all of Peterborough’s residents had relocated.

1782 was a year of scarcity for the town, and the arrival of the alewives in the spring brought some relief to hungry families. As such, residents voted to build a pound. Each spring since, a weir is constructed in the St. George River and thousands of alewives, an anadromous species of herring, are funneled into waiting nets. While the industry does not provide employment, it has been a source of revenue to the town since 1802, when an act was passed by the legislature giving the town the exclusive rights to catch and sell the fish on the condition that the town allow residents an amount of alewives for personal consumption. Of note: the Warren firehouse was paid for by alewife revenue.

In 1853, Warren voters elected Olive Rose as County Register of Deeds. She was the first woman to hold an elected office in the United States. She remained in the position until 1857 when her own brother was elected to replace her.

In 2002 the Maine State Prison, a maximum security facility, formerly located in Thomaston, moved to Warren. The State Prison opened in 1824 to house adult felons serving terms of time not less than one year. In the 1930’s the Bolduc Correctional Facility, known as the “Prison Farm,” was built in Warren. Housing 40 minimum security prisoners, Bolduc became one of the largest beef and dairy farms in Maine. It was destroyed by fire in 1969. Although it was reopened in 1972, the facility utilized the programs of the Department of Manpower Affairs to provide vocational training to prisoners. In 1982 a small farm was reestablished and has proceeded to grow produce and meat for use in Department of Corrections facilities.

Present day Warren is a bustling bedroom community, home to two parks, and numerous farms and small businesses.
For more historic information about our wonderful little town check out the book called Old Warren, Maine a publication of the Warren Historical Society, copyrighted 1997.