KHNM sign

– History –

Incorporated in 1647, Kittery is Maine's oldest town. Among the early settlers from England were merchants who plied the oceans, fishermen of the bountiful waters, and builders of sturdy wooden naval vessels.

Kittery was known for its shipbuilding during Colonial days. The first ship to fly a US flag in battle – USS Ranger – was built here. In 1800, the first Federal shipyard in the United States was established here. Construction of submarines started here during World War I. Today, our navy shipyard continues to play a pivotal role in maintaining the nation's defenses.


The Gateway to Maine

Kittery is the southernmost town in Maine. Travelers headed north will often visit here first. While its outlet stores along US Route 1 are well-known, Kittery has an abundance of history and character.

Right now, this is a time of celebrations in Kittery. First, we recognized the bicentennial of Maine statehood in 2020. Then, we are observing the 375th anniversary of Kittery's incorporation as a town in 2022.

Maine 200 Kittery 375

For both celebrations, our Society created a booklet — "A Brief History of Kittery" — about people, places, and events. The booklet is like a timeline. Its short chapters are each about an era in the town's history. This booklet includes the story of how Maine became a state in 1820.

Get a printed copy of the booklet – while supplies last – at the Museum. For an electronic copy...

Open the book on Kittery history – with our compliments – here:

Kittery History

Click the photo above to open or download a PDF document.
You will need a suitable device and Adobe Acrobat to read it.

Like the booklet? Then you may want to join the Kittery Historical and Naval Society. Members receive a quarterly newsletter, with stories from the Kittery archives. Please help to support and encourage the study of local history. Click here to become a member today!


Also Recommended

book cover

In 2021, we re-published "Colonial Village" by John Eldridge Frost.

This book is one of the best accounts of early settlement in Kittery. It interprets history through the architecture of colonial buildings, many of which still exist.

It tells the stories that go with the oldest places and structures in town.

"Colonial Village" was originally published in 1947. For our new version, we redesigned the book and wrote an appendix, to bring the book up-to-date with changes over the last 74 years.

As with most Society projects, this was a volunteer effort, which produced an attractive and informative book.

The book — "Colonial Village" — is now available in our Gift Shop. Also find it on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. (Click to go to their websites.)

Thanks to the Rosamond Thaxter Foundation for supporting this publication.


Remembering our Veterans

Kittery has memorials to the veterans of several conflicts. Two monuments are noteworthy:

In addition, we have compiled the names listed on the following memorials:

These lists may be less readable on smaller devices. For more information, contact the Museum.