Readfield Historical Society

If you are looking for the new Readfield Historical Society website, it’s moved to readfieldhistorical.org.

This is an archive that, hopefully, will give you a peek at our collections of artifacts, historical documents, old photographs and other objects, all related to the interesting history of this attractive village located among the gently rolling hills and lakes of central Maine.

Our collection is housed in an old schoolhouse, built in 1853 and located in Readfield Depot.  Our upstairs holds most of our exhibits and is handicap accessible.  Downstairs, we have restored the old schoolroom for our Day In A Rural Schoolhouse Program.  We have an area
for doing research plus an historian and a genealogist on call.  We invite you to visit our attractive Museum and research center.

For specific information, click on one of the links to your left.  They will lead you to somewhat more detailed information on what we have. Remember, we are an all volunteer society and  the cataloging of items, especially documents, is an on-going process.  We always have more than will show on this website, so an actual visit is important for thorough research.

Hours of Operation:

Thursdays and Saturdays, 10AM-2PM, from June until mid-September.  If we do not have a volunteer to staff the building for a
day, we will not open; however, if you call 207-685-4662, we will be happy to open for you.

How to Find Us:

The Readfield Historical Society is located 11 miles northwest of Augusta on Rte. 17 in Readfield Depot.  From I-95 take Exit 109 for
Rtes. 202/100/11 west towards Winthrop. In 3 miles Rte. 17  branches to the right in Manchester.  It is then 7 miles to Readfield Depot.  Our building is on the right just before the railroad tracks.  For those with GPS, the street address is 759 Main St., Readfield, ME 04355.

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Readfield History

Readfield was first settled in the mid-eighteenth century when the area was still a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Originally part of the Town of Winthrop when it incorporated in 1771, the North Parish split off in 1791, getting 4/9 of the area and renaming itself Readfield. This new community was named in honor of John Read, a land agent for the Commonwealth.

Readfield is bounded on the east by the Town of Manchester, on the north by Mount Vernon and Belgrade, on the west by Fayette and Wayne, and on the south by Winthrop.

There are four sections to Readfield, all paying taxes to the Town of Readfield: East Readfield, Readfield Depot, Readfield Corner, and Kents Hill. Each was a thriving village in its own right in the 1800’s, with churches, school, businesses and post office.

  • In 1825 an educational institution called the Maine Wesleyan Seminary was instituted on Kents Hill, under the auspices of the Methodists. In 1852 it also became a college for women. Known now as Kents Hill School, it is a preparatory high school which attracts students from all over the world.
  • In 1826 the Masons were established in Readfield, with their first Masonic Hall being built in 1827. In 1849 the railroad came to Readfield, where up to six passenger trains a day stopped as late as 1930.
  • In 1877 the oilcloth factory burned in East Readfield, causing the loss of 50 jobs. This fire, along with the 1905 purchase of nearby Carleton Pond by the Augusta Water District, marked the eventual decline of the village.
  • In 1897 the Fire Department was established. It was, and still is, all volunteer.
  • In 1921 there was a huge fire at Readfield Corner, wiping out most of the buildings there.
  • In 1955 the Readfield Elementary School opened. All other elementary schools in town closed, further contributing to the decline of the villages.

Lakes and ponds in Readfield include Maranacook Lake, Torsey Pond, Lovejoy Pond, Crotched Pond and Carlton Pond. Readfield had an active and vibrant industrial life in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. There was a woolen factory known as the Readfield Manufacturing Company, a sash and blind factory, a boot factory, a grist mill, and a slaughter house. Almost nothing remains of the area that was known as Factory Square, but for a dam and a house that is slowly falling apart.