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Saco's Rich History

Historic Preservation Commission

Although early preservation interest and historic survey work began in the 1970s, the city's current historic preservation efforts date to 1990. It was at that time that a significant Main Street house was demolished, spurring Mayor Mark Johnston to challenge the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council to pass amendments giving teeth to a previously adopted historic preservation ordinance. Pertinent provisions of the ordinance are described in a separate document.

As a result, a citizens' Commission reviews exterior renovations on 175 properties on Main, North, Elm, Cross and Vernon streets, and 25 additional Beach Street properties added to the district in 1995. Some 26 properties on Middle and School Streets were added in September 1997. The Historic Preservation Commission takes pride in providing an expeditious review of building alterations and in cooperating with district property owners.

The state and federal governments recognized these efforts in 1991 by awarding Certified Local Government status. This has resulted in funding of City Hall architectural planning, a lecture series, historic survey work, and preparation of this walking tour brochure. 

Saco's Rich History 

The History subsection is composed of a number of documents describing Saco's history. You might want to begin with "An Introduction to Saco History", prepared by Thomas Hardiman, former curator, Saco Museum. Mr. Hardiman has also prepared "A History of Factory Island".

Downtown History was prepared in late 1996 for a nomination of a portion of Main Street, Saco, to the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a good introduction to the physical and social history of the downtown. The document "A History of Saco City Hall", is derived from from the 1950 Saco Annual Report Inaugural Address. Archaeological Studies are detailed in this article, prepared in 1987 for the Saco Comprehensive Plan by Dr. Emerson Baker.

If you like a little exercise with your cultural explorations, be sure to see the "Walking Tour of Main Street", also prepared by Thomas Hardiman. Saco has nine properties that are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places