Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Birthplace of Maine

signs collageFreeport is more than just the Outlet Capital of Maine. It’s a town in Cumberland County, Maine, referred to as the Birthplace of the State of Maine. Meetings that eventually lead to Maine’s separation from Massachusetts in 1820 took place in Freeport’s Jameson Tavern. In 1940, the writers of Three Centuries of Freeport said the claim was invalid, but it remains widely popular, even on the state tourism site.

The town was once a part of North Yarmouth and originally called Harraseeket, after the Harraseeket River; settled about 1700, it was incorporated  as Freeport in 1789. The town’s name is believed to be after the fictional London merchant, Sir Andrew Freeport, in The Spectator by Joseph Addison.

Freeport’s location at the head of tide on the Harraseeket River made it a center where timber was shipped for use as masts. The estuary was dammed providing water power for a gristmill, and sawmill , manufacturing and woodworking. South Freeport was the largest of the waterfront villages and had four shipyards. Other businesses included fishing, canning, and farming.

Freeport’s BIGGEST claim to fame, however, is that it’s the birthplace and now home of retail and mail order giant, L.L. Bean. In  1912, Leon Leonwood Bean, an avid hunter and fisherman, developed a waterproof boot – the Bean Boot – that he sold to hunters. Bean prepared a 4-page mail order circular and set up a store in the basement of his brother's Freeport clothing store. The store quickly became popular and in 1951 it started 24 hours a day operation – in effect today at its Freeport retail store. Bean was also selling his boot through the mail-order catalog. When defects in the design led to a high return rate, he honored his money-back guarantee, corrected the design, and continued with sales.

bean collageSince then, more than 200 upscale retail outlets call Freeport home.

outlet store collage

The main streets were pretty empty the day Grenville and I visited, but we heard this is not the case in summertime.

freeport Not, that we plan to return anytime soon. We’re just not shop till you drop folks, and didn’t even buy anything on this first visit.


Sara said...

You DID get a picture of the giant boot afterall. Neat. The photos of "downtown" Freeport are almost surreal due to the lack of people. In the warmer weather )late spring through Columbus Day) it is usually PACKED with people. Glad you could see it without all the hassle.

Ann Nichols said...

How neat! It actually looks like a movie set without all the people!

Lois Evensen said...

What a fabulous place. We aren't shoppers, either. We consider our images our best travel souvenirs. ;) Great post!

Scott said...

What a great little town. Your photos make me want to visit there. Great job on the montages.

grammie g said...

Hi Folks..You sure picked a great day to be in doubt : }
We locals avoid going through there unless a day of shopping hits us. We are very thankful that we have the 295 highway to travel!!
Christmas time it is a mad house but worth going at least ones at night. The town is like a fairy tale village!!
Love your signs,your under foot covers, and the architecture windows from yesterday!! Great observations!!
Have a great day ...I'm trying to keep up! : }

Anvilcloud said...

That sign collage is really neat.

Elaine said...

Love the giant boot! When we are traveling we don't do a lot of shopping either, although since our shopping opportunities are limited here in Fairbanks I would like to do a little more. However, if we have to eventually put it all in a suitcase and on an airplane, the new luggage charges really make you very conservative.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hello ALL and thanks for your comments. Freeport was not the highlight of our town travels. Streets full of outlets are not charming or fascinating and quite different to us. We will most likely avoid this area on any return trip, but it was worth a "look-see" once if only to see the Big Boot.

Sara, it was rathr amazing to see the streets so empty when we visited, which was mid-week. That was not the case when we drove through during the weekend on our way to other places. There was more car and foot traffic.

Ann, it sure did look oddly empty and even the parking garage was nearly vacant - but this is not the norm, just the time of year and day of the week we were there.

Hi Lois, since we've been following your travels the past few months you surely have some great souvenirs - better than any from an outlet place!

Scott and Anvil, Thanks for the visit and the collage was an idea that came to me after seeing SO many signs. Glad you liked it.

Grammie G, Freeport might be fun in small doses during gthe holiday season just for the lights and sure it would make an interesting collage then, but I could do without the shoppping...and the crowds. Take your time in keeping up cause we have lots more to come. Some days we can't keep up ourselves with being out all day and trying to post evenings and read other blogs too.

Elaine, we are not shoppers either and opportunities are limited where we live as well, closest major shopping areas are a 90-minute drive, so mail order and thrift stores work best in our area. Glad we are NOT travelling by plane cause our Jeep is pretty well loaded now!

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