KHNM sign

– History –

Incorporated in 1647, Kittery is Maine's oldest town. Kittery is also the southernmost town in Maine. Travelers headed north often visit this "Gateway to Maine" first. Its outlet stores along US Route 1 are well-known, while its history and character are notable.

Among the early settlers from England were merchants who plied the oceans, fishermen of the bountiful waters, and builders of sturdy wooden naval vessels. The first ship to fly a US flag in battle – USS Ranger – was built here.

In 1800, the first Federal shipyard in the U.S. was established here. Construction of submarines started at the shipyard in World War I. Today, our Navy shipyard continues to play an essential role in maintaining the nation's defenses.


"Kittery History Portal"

We have created an on-line database of people, places, and events from Kittery history. This "portal" is now available here – for free. You can search the list of people or learn more about using the database. There's also an interactive timeline of Kittery history!


"A Brief History of Kittery"

For the Maine bicentennial, we wrote a booklet that reads like a timeline. Its short chapters are each about an era in the town's history. It includes the story of how Maine became a state in 1820. For an electronic copy of the booklet – with our compliments...

Open the book on Kittery history here:

Kittery History

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

"Colonial Village"

book cover

This book, by John Eldridge Frost, 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 of the oldest places and structures in town.

"Colonial Village" was originally published in 1947. For our new version in 2021, 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 is now available in the Gift Shop of our Museum. 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.


Research Request

To ask for assistance from our volunteer staff, please use our handy Request Form.

At the same time, you may want to consider membership in 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!

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 our Museum.