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Gardiner, Maine

Gardiner, Maine
Water Street in 1914
Water Street in 1914
Official seal of Gardiner, Maine
Motto: Where history and progress meet
Location in Kennebec County and the state of Maine.
Location in Kennebec County and the state of Maine.
Gardiner, Maine is located in USA
Gardiner, Maine
Gardiner, Maine
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Maine
County Kennebec
Incorporated February 17, 1803
 • Type Mayor and council-manager
 • Mayor Thomas Harnett
 • City Manager Scott Morelli
 • Total 16.57 sq mi (42.92 km2)
 • Land 15.65 sq mi (40.53 km2)
 • Water 0.92 sq mi (2.38 km2)
Elevation 23 ft (7 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 5,800
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 5,747
 • Density 370.6/sq mi (143.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 04345
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-27085
GNIS feature ID 0566690

Gardiner is a city in Kennebec County, Maine, United States. The population was 5,800 at the 2010 census. Popular with tourists, Gardiner is noted for its culture and old architecture. Gardiner is included in the Augusta, Maine micropolitan New England City and Town Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 census 3.1
    • 2000 census 3.2
  • Education 4
  • Government 5
    • Local government 5.1
    • Political makeup 5.2
  • Sites of interest 6
  • Notable people 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Located at the head of navigation on the Kennebec River, Gardiner was founded as Gardinerstown Plantation in 1754 by Dr. Silvester Gardiner, a prominent Boston physician. Dr. Gardiner had made a fortune as a drug merchant, with one apothecary shop in Massachusetts and two in Connecticut, and became a principal proprietor of the Kennebec Purchase within the old Plymouth Patent. He proved a tireless promoter for his development, which once comprised over 100,000 acres (400 km2).[4]

Dr. Gardiner induced a gristmill builder, saw millwright, house carpenter and wheelwright to settle here. Houses, mills, a church and a blockhouse were built. Situated at the confluence of the Kennebec River and Cobbesseecontee Stream, which has falls that drop 130 feet over a mile, the location was recognized by him as ideal for water-powered mills. Gardinerstown, set off from Pittston in 1760, became center of the regional economy.[4]

The wilderness toils of Dr. Gardiner would end, however, with the Revolution. Loyal to the Crown, he fled Boston in 1776 when the British army evacuated. But his settlement lived on without him, and in 1803 was incorporated as the town of Gardiner. From the early 19th century until the Civil War, shipbuilding and trade were primary industries. It would become a city in 1849, at which time ten large riverfront wharves served shipping. Lumber, in vast quantities, passed through Gardiner. Tanneries and shoe factories prospered.[5]

The city became known worldwide for exporting ice. Each winter men cut large blocks from the Kennebec River, then covered the ice with sawdust in warehouses to keep it frozen well into summer. It was loaded year-round on large vessels for shipment throughout the United States and world. Gardiner was noted for its pristine Kennebec ice, harvested at the furthest point upriver that deep-draft vessels could reach.[6]

In 1851, the city was connected by railroad. One of the first workable steam automobiles in America was built in Gardiner in 1858. Beginning in the 1860s, paper mills flourished, as did the commercial ice industry between the 1880s and 1920s.[7] By the 1960s, however, many mills suffered decline and closure. The former mill town is now largely a bedroom community for people who work in Augusta, the state's capital, as well as Bath Iron Works in Bath. Some residents commute as far as the Portland area. The city is endowed with a great deal of antique architecture, much of it beautifully restored. In 1980, the entire downtown historic district became one of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Kennebec County, Maine.


Gardiner is located at .[8]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.57 square miles (42.92 km2), of which 15.65 square miles (40.53 km2) is land and 0.92 square miles (2.38 km2) is water.[1] Gardiner is drained by the Cobbesseeconte Stream and Kennebec River.


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Gardiner has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[9]


2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 5,800 people, 2,487 households, and 1,550 families residing in the city. The population density was 370.6 inhabitants per square mile (143.1/km2). There were 2,778 housing units at an average density of 177.5 per square mile (68.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.4% White, 0.3% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0% of the population.

There were 2,487 households of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.7% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the city was 40.9 years. 21.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.3% were from 25 to 44; 30.1% were from 45 to 64; and 14.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

2000 census

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 6,198 people, 2,510 households, and 1,603 families residing in the city. The population density was 395.6 people per square mile (152.7/km²). There were 2,702 housing units at an average density of 172.5 per square mile (66.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 99.90% White, 0.39% African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.24% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.81% of the population.

There were 2,510 households out of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.97.

R. P. Hazzard Co. Shoe Factory in 1915

In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,103, and the median income for a family was $42,750. Males had a median income of $33,069 versus $25,399 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,033. About 11.4% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.2% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.


Old High School (1870-1969), designed by Francis H. Fassett

Gardiner is part of Maine School Administrative District #11 that serves the communities of Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner. The District operates five elementary schools, a middle school, and high school. The following schools are located in Gardiner:

  • Gardiner Area High School (9-12) 732 students
  • Gardiner Regional Middle School (6-8) 501 students
  • Laura E Richards School (PK-2) 262 students
  • River View Community School (3-5) 190 students


Local government

Gardiner has a Mayor and council-manager system, with all governmental powers resting in a legislative body called a City Council. Voters elect a mayor, and seven council members, one for each of Gardiner's four districts and three at-large. The council appoints a city manager to handle the ordinary business of the city.

Political makeup

In the 2012 Presidential election, Barack Obama received 1,699 of the town's votes to Mitt Romney's 1,158.[13] Political affiliation is roughly split into thirds between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

Voter registration
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of November 2012[14]
Party Total Voters Percentage
  Unenrolled 1,528 34.57%
  Democratic 1,487 33.65%
  Republican 1,164 26.34%
  Green Independent 240 5.43%
Total 4,419 100%

Sites of interest

Notable people

The Park and Palmer Fountain in 1909. Melted down for the war effort, the bronze statue was later replaced.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b The Gardiner Story (1949)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Historical Sketch of Gardiner, Maine (1889)
  8. ^
  9. ^ Climate Summary for Gardiner, Maine
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

Further reading

External links

  • City of Gardiner, Maine
  • Gardiner Public Library
  • Gardiner Main Street, A Main Street Maine Community
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson, An American Poet, 1869-1935: A Virtual Tour of Robinson's Gardiner, Maine
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