Biddeford History

Most of the brick buildings that define downtown Biddeford were constructed during the 1800s when the city was a thriving textile mill town. Each day, thousands of people made the five to ten-minute walk from their hillside homes and boarding houses to the mills. As you stroll the streets during your stay, imagine the same sidewalks packed with workers rushing to get to their posts before the bells of The Lincoln Mill announced the start of their shift. 

During the height of production in the early 1900s, the Biddeford mills produced millions of yards of cloth and thread each year. In those days, various shops lined Main Street, including groceries, restaurants, and fancy goods shops that catered to the mill workers. From July 4, 1888 to July 5, 1939 The Biddeford and Saco Railroad operated street trolleys that made the hour-long trip from Biddeford to Old Orchard Beach every hour from 9am to 9pm. These 12-row, open-air cars accommodated up to 60 passengers. You can visit the No. 31 car from this bygone era at the Seashore Trolley Museum in nearby Arundel.

When production started to decline in the 1960s, many of the sprawling mill buildings that spanned the river in Biddeford and its sister city, Saco, were vacated.  The massive structures that were once essential parts of Biddeford’s economic engine fell into disrepair and became eyesores. That all changed in 2007 when new owners began an aggressive rehabilitation project at the Saco Island Mill. Anchored by the Run of the Mill Pub and dozens of high-end apartments, the Saco Island Mill sparked a series of other projects on Factory Island and Saco Mill #4.  

The spirit of revitalization made its way to Biddeford in 2015. After years of planning and construction, the first apartments at The Lincoln Lofts opened for leasing in 2021. As Biddeford enjoys new popularity for its proximity to Portland and easy access to some of York County’s best attractions, The Lincoln Mill is once again a visible symbol of the city’s renaissance.

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