Brunswick, is a town in Cumberland County, Maine. Settled in 1628 by Thomas Purchase and other fishermen, the area was called by its Indian name, Pejepscot (long, rocky rapids part of the river). In 1639, Purchase placed the settlement under protection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. During King Philip's War in 1676, Pejepscot was burned and abandoned, although a garrison called Fort Andros was built on the ruins during King William's War. The 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth brought peace to the region between the Abenaki Indians and English colonists.
In 1714, a group from Boston and Portsmouth bought the land afterwards called the Pejepscot Purchase. The Massachusetts General Court constituted the township in 1717 and named it Brunswick in honor of the House of Brunswick and its scion, King George. After a fire, Brunswick was rebuilt in 1727, and was incorporated in 1739.
The Androscoggin River, which falls in 3 successive stages over a distance of 41 feet, provided water power for Brunswick industry. The town became a prosperous seaport and major producer of lumber, with as many as 25 sawmills. Some of the lumber went into shipbuilding. Other firms produced paper, soap, flour, marble and granite work, carriages and harness, plows, furniture, shoes and confections. The town was the site of Maine’s first cotton mill, Brunswick Cotton Manufactory Company, built in 1809.
The former Fort Andros site was later the Cabot Mill which served a number of businesses in the manufacture of cotton, cloth, woolen broadcloth, synthetics, and shoes. Later, the mill was renovated for use as offices, art studios, galleries, and warehouse space and renamed Fort Andros.
Nearby, Sea Dog Brewery is located on the river banks.
The Frank J. Woods Bridge is a steel bridge, built in 1932, which spans the Androscoggin River and connects Brunswick with Topsham, Maine. It replaced a wooden toll bridge built in 1756 and later destroyed by fire. The new bridge was named after a farmer who suggested the relocation of the bridge.
Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, and the Naval Air Station Brunswick. Bowdoin College, founded in 1794, is a private liberal arts college with a student body of 1,700 and ranks sixth among liberal colleges in the U.S. The college was named for ex-Massachusetts governor, James Bowdoin, whose son was a major benefactor.
Author Nathanial Hawthorne graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825 His classmates included future president Franklin Pierce and future poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In 1829, Longfellow secured a professorship at the college in modern European languages and taught French, Spanish, and Italian leaving in 1834 to accept a Professorship of Modern Languages at Harvard College.
Bowdoin's connections to the Civil War prompted comments that the war “began and ended” in Brunswick. Harriet Beecher Stowe, started writing her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in Bowdoin's Appleton Hall, while her husband, Calvin, was teaching at the College. Stowe said she got a key vision for the book in the First Parish Church.
Brigadier General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a Bowdoin alumnus and professor, received the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in 1865. For his gallantry at Gettysburg, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Chamberlain later served four years as governor of Maine, adjutant-general of Maine, and as president of his alma mater, Bowdoin College.