First settled in 1621, the town developed as a trading and, later, shipbuilding and shipping center with light manufacturing. It was part of the town of Wells until 1820, when it incorporated as a separate town. "Kennebunk, the only village in the world so named," was featured on a large locally famous sign attached to the Kesslen Shoe Mill on Route One. To the Abenaki Indians, Kennebunk meant "the long cut bank," presumably the long bank behind Kennebunk Beach. Kennebunk's coastline is divided into three major sections. Mother's Beach, Middle Beach or Rocky Beach, and Gooches Beach or Long Beach. Separate from Kennebunk Beach is secluded Parson's Beach, a quiet alternative to the summer crowds.
The town is a popular summer tourist destination. Kennebunk contains fine examples of early architecture, the most noted of which is the Wedding Cake House, a Federal-style dwelling extensively decorated with scroll saw Gothic trim. This was added to the house for his wife of many years by George Washington Bourne late in his life, and not as legend has it by a ship captain for a young bride lost at sea. Local economy is tourism based. The headquarters for the natural health-care product manufacturer Tom's of Maine is located in Kennebunk. Many residents commute to Portland, to New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
The Lafayette Elm was a tree which was planted to commemorate General Lafayette's 1825 visit to Kennebunk. It became famous for its age, size, and survival of the Dutch elm disease that destroyed the hundreds of the other elms that once lined Kennebunk's streets. The elm is featured on the town seal. The restored Kesslen Shoe Mill has been renamed the Lafayette Center. Kennebunk is home to two of the state's oldest banks—Ocean Bank (1854) and Kennebunk Savings Bank (1871). Only Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution (1827) and Bangor Savings Bank (1852) are older. Summer Street was Maine's first Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1 Summer Street
Kennebunk, ME 04043
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Kennebunk Public Schools
Parks & Recreation
Mother’s & Gooch’s Beach
Goose Rocks Beach
Parson’s Way Shore Walk
Kennebunkport Historical Society
Animal Welfare Society – West Kennebunk, ME – 985-3244
United Way – 36 Water Street, Kennebunk, ME – 985-3359
Southern Maine Agency Meals – 124 Ross Road, Kennebunk – 985-2588
Budget Box St. David’s – 106 York Street, Kennebunk – 985-3544