The Municipal Building on Elm St is cramped and outdated. The town employees are giving tours of the building this week to show taxpayers the condition of our 1960 Town Offices. I thought this might be a good time to talk about the various Town Halls in Kennebunkport’s history.
Cape Porpoise was originally the center of town. Town Government was conducted in the Meetinghouse there along with religious services. By 1763, the town had spread out. The meetinghouse at Cape Porpoise was considered inconveniently remote for much of Arundel’s population. The Cape Porpoise Meetinghouse was deliberately burned to end the disagreement and a new meetinghouse was built for church and government at Town House Corners.
The Town House Corners Meetinghouse was torn down in 1842 and a new more modern Townhouse was built nearby to replace it along with the current First Congregational Church. By 1893, the “modern” Townhouse had fallen into serious disrepair, but voters would not agree to replace it until 1902, when artist Abbott Graves designed a new 40’ x 80’ Town Hall and Octavious Hutchins built it next to the Poor Farm for $2,569.84. The old Town House was moved to the poor farm to serve as a stable and woodshed.
The Abbott Graves Town Hall building was sold at auction to Wesley Boynton and Morse Haithwaite, in 1953. Arthur Hendrick’s Construction Company dismantled and rebuilt it as a 500-seat theatre for the Arundel Opera Company, between West and Lock streets on North Street. Meanwhile, Kennebunkport Town Government had to make do meeting at the Village Fire Station on Ocean Ave and later, at Consolidated School.
At the March 1959 Town Meeting, voters agreed that the Kennebunkport High School on Elm Street should be razed the following May to make way for a new municipal building on its site. Arthur Hendrick’s Construction Company broke ground on our current Town Office on Elm St. in July 1959. It was originally designed to house the Village Fire Station and Health Department, as well.
The Abbott Graves Town Hall/Arundel Opera Theatre on North St which had become St Martha’s Catholic Church when the Opera was dissolved in 1963, was sold back to the town of Kennebunkport in 1997 and torn down to make way for the Fire Station and Municipal Parking Lot on North Street.