Our History


Biddeford’s history does not begin at a fixed point in time. It is a history that is enrichedby the native Wabanaki people, waves of immigrants from all over the world who came here to live and work, and by European explorers and colonists.

In 1616, Ferdinando Gorges sent a party commanded by Richard Vines, a physician from Bideford, England, to visit what we now know as Biddeford. The Plymouth Company in 1630 granted the land south of the River Chaoucet to Richard Vines and John Oldham. In 1653, the town-including both sides of the river- was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco.

For hundreds of years, Biddeford was the engine for amazing innovation including Granite quarries, brickyards, and textile mills. Saco Manufacturing was the largest textile mill in the country in 1825. Boston investors acquired Saco Manufacturing and York Manufacturing in 1833 to begin a wave of textile manufacturing from raw cotton to finished cloth. In 1837, a new and separate company was formed called the Saco Water Power Company that not only produced textiles, but controlled the water power rights for the York Mills. It was the Saco Water Power that built the Laconia Mills in 1844 and the Pepperell Mills in 1850.

Biddeford’s history is rich and complex. We invite you to join us
and to help us discover, preserve, and promote our history and heritage.