Home The Story of Maine is a production of MPBN MPBN
Go back to the home page Read a synopsis of each program

Explore key events in Maine history

Explore Maine's Native American heritage.

Ideas for classroom teachers

Check out other interesting history sites

Site index


Click on links in the timeline to learn more.

1524 Fresh from a successful voyage of discovery that took him from the Carolinas to Rhode Island, the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano (c. 1485-1528) fetched up on the coast of what became Maine, probably eastern Casco Bay. He was not terribly successful in trading with the inhabitants who kept their distance, laughed, bared their bottoms and fired off a volley of arrows. Verrazzano left the first written record of the place, calling it "The Land of Bad People" in his report to the King of France and on his brother's map of the coast.
1604 The French became the first known Europeans to attempt colonization in Maine by building a settlement on an island in the St. Croix River (Dochet Island on the border with present day New Brunswick). The second in command, Samuel de Champlain (c.1567-1635) explored the Maine coast producing charts and the first European visual art--including a view of the large native settlement at the mouth of the Saco River. Though the St.Croix colony moved across the Bay of Fundy the next year, Eastern Maine remained part of French Acadia.
Circa 1605 A full-length portrait of a young woman called Mme. Penobscot was painted by an unknown English artist, circa 1605. Now at The Vyne, Basingstoke, England, it apparently depicts a Native American taken from the banks of the Penobscot River. In England she was made a ward of the Crown. Depicted in full Elizabethan dress, she may be our earliest portrait of a Mainer.
1607 The second European attempt to settle in Maine came in 1607 at the mouth of the Kennebec River. The English artist John Hunt sketched the settlement and the vessel, probably the Virginia, the first ship built in Maine. The drawing is now in the Spanish Archives. The settlement lasted only one winter.
1624. Captain John Smith's book, The General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles.
1672 John Josselyn, who spent over nine years in what is now Scarborough, Maine, published the first of his influential books, New-England Rarities Discovered.
1707 John McIntire house built at York, Maine. It remains among the oldest still standing.
1720-25 York Gaol built.
1724 Fr. Sebastian Rales, Catholic priest, musician, writer, architect and artist, killed by English militia at Norridgewock.
1766 Subscription library founded at Falmouth Neck (now Portland).
1776 Joseph F.W. DesBarres begins publication of his maritime atlas of the East Coast, including charts and views of Maine.
1785 Composer Supply Belcher settles in Hallowell, and later in Farmington, publishes a collection of musical compositions, "The Harmony of Maine," in 1794.
1785 The Falmouth Gazette becomes Maine's first newspaper.
1794 Founding of Bowdoin, Maine's first college, which acquired an important early art collection a few years later.
1794 Maine's first theater opened in Portland.
1796 Parson Jonathan Fisher, minister, artist and writer settles in Blue Hill and begins one man renaissance.
1800 Sally Wood of York writes Maine's first novel, Julia and the Illuminated Baron.
1806 Elizabeth Oakes Prince born in North Yarmouth, later an important writer and reformer.
1807 Portland's landmark Observatory is constructed.
1815 Founding of Handel Society of Maine at Hallowell. First district wide cultural organization.
1815 Maine Charitable Mechanic Association founded by craftsmen. Began first art, craft and invention exhibitions in 1826.
1818 Painter Moses Pierce opens first commercial art gallery in Portland.
1820 Maine becomes a State.
1822 Charles Codman moves to Maine becoming the first settled landscape painter.
1822 Maine Historical Society founded.
1824 Eastman Johnson, later an important landscape painter, is born in Lovell, Maine.
1827 Native Mainer and first American art critic, John Neal, returns to Portland and in the following year founds The Yankee, the region's first literary journal. Neal joins with Codman and others to create a rich art scene.
1832 Artist and naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851) visits Maine and portrays more than a dozen birds, mostly from Washington County.
1833 Buckfield's own Seba Smith brings out The Life and Writing of Major Jack Downing. The fictional Downing became the national symbol for rural characters.
1836 The first edition of Light and Truth by African-American writer and inventor Robert Benjamin Lewis of Hallowell published at Portland. The book went through several editions and is now seen as the pioneering Afro-centric history book.
1841 Annie Louise Carey, Maine's first opera star, born in Wayne, Maine.
1844 Leading national landscape painter Thomas Cole "discovers" Mt. Desert and foreshadows summer art colonies.
1846 Henry David Thoreau's first visit to the state's forest. His journals would be combined as the book The Maine Woods, 1864.
1851 John S. Springer writes Forest Life and Forest Trees.
1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe, a resident of Brunswick, writes Uncle Tom's Cabin.
1855 Maine native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes Hiawatha.
1858 R.B. Hall, a noted American bandmaster, is born in Bowdoinham.
1858-60 The Morse-Libby House built in Portland. It is now considered the outstanding example of Italianate architecture in Maine. Henry Austin architect.
1860 Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859-1930), African-American novelist, born in Portland.
1860 Celebrated artist Frederic E. Church paints "Twilight in the Wilderness," homage to the Maine forest.
1876 Maine born musician John Knowles Paine's "Symphony Number 1" is completed. Paine is the first American composer to win acclaim for serious music.
1877 Marsden Hartley, great American painter, born in Lewiston.
1879 Opera star Madame Nordica (Lillian Norton of Farmington)made her debut in Milan.
1882 Portland Society of Art formed by artist Harry Brown and businessman J.P. Baxter. This organization later split into the Portland Museum of Art and the Maine College of Art.
1883 F.E. and F.O. Stanley of Kingfield invented the dry plate photographic process.
1884 Winslow Homer converts carriage house at Prout's Neck into art studio and begins his greatest period of productivity.
1886 J.G. Lyman is born in Biddeford and later becomes leading Candian artist.
1892-94 The Walker Art Gallery at Bowdoin College is founded.
1894 Writer Celia Thaxter and painter Childe Hassam produce the classic Maine book An Island Garden. The volume was a benchmark in the development of the Isles of Shoals art colony.
1896 Sarah Orne Jewett of So. Berwick wrote Country of the Pointed Firs, perhaps the best group of short stories ever written in Maine.
1902 Hamilton Easter Field, painter and critic, visits Ogunquit and begins a summer art colony for Modernist artists including Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Laurent and Yauso Kuniyoshi.
1917 Edna St.Vincent Millay of Rockland publishes Renascence and Other Poems. Her fresh images and attitude made her a leading figure of the 1920's. In 1923 she won a Pulitzer Prize.
1922 Edwin Arlington Robinson of Head Tide became the first Maine native to win a Pulitzer for Collected Poems. He would win another two times.
1923 Owen Gould Davies, a native of Portland who grew up in Bangor, won the Pulitzer Prize for his drama Icebound.
1926 Hiram Abrams of Portland, President of United Artists, died in Hollywood.
1929 Molly Dellis Nelson (Molly Spotted Elk) starred in the film "The Silent Enemy."
1930 Kenneth Roberts wrote Arundel and began a new era in historical novels.
1934 Celebrated painter John Marin bought a permanent home and set up a studio in Cape Split.
1942 Maine born movie director John Ford won an Academy Award and a Purple Heart for his documentary film "The Battle of Midway." His record of six Oscars has never been beaten.
1946 Founding of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
1947 Rockland composer, Walter Piston, won the first of two Pulitzer Prizes for his symphonies.
1948 Andrew Wyeth painted Christina's World. For many it is the defining image of Maine.
1953 WAIB, Bangor, went on the air and Maine officially entered the age of television.
1954 Down East Magazine commenced publication and has continued to shape widely held images of Maine.
1962 Arthur Bennett Lipkin became conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra making it a professional group, now under the direction Toshiyuki Shimada, it has achieved even greater stature.
1964 Greater Portland Landmarks, Inc. founded.
1965 Fort Fairfield's Dick Curless hit the top of the country music charts with his truckers anthem A Tombstone Every Mile.
1973 Carrie, the first of Stephen King's spectacularly successful horror novels appeared.
1983 I.M. Pei and Partners architect Henry N. Cobb's newly designed Payson Wing of the Portland Museum of Art is opened.
1981 Belgian born writer Marguerite Yourcenar living at Mt. Desert since the 1940's was elected to Academie Francaise, the first women to receive this honor.
1985 The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute landed like a cinder block on the American writing scene. Many notions about romantic Yankees and hard scrabble farms gave way to an image of Maine men and women in a hopeless time and place.
1998 Farnsworth Art Museum opened its Center for the Wyeth Family in Maine.

Compiled by William David Barry.

To top of page



The 2003 and 2004 seasons of "HOME: The Story of Maine" on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network was made in partnership with the Maine State Museum. Major funding was provided by the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency committed to fostering innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. Additional funding provided by Elsie Viles.
Major funding for previous seasons of  "HOME: The Story of Maine" was made possible by a grant from Rural Development, a part of the USDA. Special support is provided by The Maine State Museum and Northeast Historic Films.