In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Davenport Memorial and City Hall

Text by Rebecca Black, Christie Duffy, Courtney McKinney, and Brook Mitchell
7th grade students at Bath Middle School
With images from the Patten Free Library

The Davenport Memorial building at 55 Front Street was constructed in 1929. The three-story building with a bell tower is 56 feet wide and 82 feet deep. It is a fireproof structure made of limestone and bricks with a granite foundation. There are columns at its entrance to define the curved front; above these columns is an inscription that states, “Davenport Memorial In Memory of Charles Davenport.” This particular building designed by Charles Loring, is a mix of Classical Revival, Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival. It was built as a City Hall and memorial to Charles Davenport. Before George Davenport died, he asked in his will for a City Hall to be built as a memorial to his father, Charles Davenport, and designated $10,000 for that purpose.

In the process of erecting this building, a few buildings were torn down. Included in the demolition was the Davenport family home, the birth-place of George Davenport. Before the Davenport Memorial, there were four wooden buildings with many uses at the site. A barber shop shared one building with the Farr and Frost Drugstore. The neighboring building housed the Kennebec Fruit Company, and F. and E. Reed Insurance. George Davenport's brokerage business was at 55 Front Street. The family home was behind the family's business space. Next to the family home was the business of James B. Young, a tailor who occupied the space for a short time. In 1890, the Postal Telegraph company moved into that place and lasted until 1928, when the buildings were torn down to build the City Hall.

The Davenports, George Patten Davenport, and George's father, Charles Davenport, are the most important people connected to this location. George P. Davenport was born at 55 Front Street, his father's home, and died on December 29, 1926 at his home on 1135 Washington Street due to a life-threatening disease at age 82. As previously stated, George Davenport requested in his will that the City Hall be built in memory of his father, Charles. George and Charles were both born on the site of what is now the City Hall, where Charles' father Benjamin Davenport had his hat business and home with his wife, Lucy. Charles Davenport is one of the first aldermen of the City elected to represent ward 7. He filled different roles in Bath's government when Bath was incorporated as a city in 1847.

The City Hall earlier provided a home for many of the City of Bath's offices. It housed the offices of the city clerk, the treasurer, the mayor, and the police department. City Hall had a courtroom, a marshal's office, a judge's office, and a police matron's office. The City Hall is still used for meetings and official city government business. Many of the earlier uses of City Hall for specific organizations have been relocated to their own buildings. For example, the superintendent of schools' office is at one of the schools, but the school board meetings are still held at City Hall. Also, the Bath Police Department has its own building on Water Street at Elm Street.

In the bell tower, there is the 1802 bell that was probably cast by Paul Revere himself. It was rung in 1967 by City Hall custodian Theodore Burns at 1 o' clock on Thursday, Patriots Day afternoon as part of a national celebration. The last time it was rung was fifteen years before in 1952 for Bath's centennial celebration. The bell has been rung more frequently in recent years at the Fourth of July celebration, as well as Patriots Day.

The Bath City Hall is an important piece of Bath's history because it's a memorial for Charles Davenport. It's an important piece of national history because of the Paul Revere Bell in the tower. George Patten Davenport left more than $1,500,000 in a trust fund to be run by the Davenport Foundation, mostly for the benefit of organizations and programs in Bath. The Davenport Foundation was able to use this money for things like religious purposes, colleges, hospitals, libraries, and even orphanages. George Davenport was one of Bath's wealthiest men. Without him, the grand Davenport Memorial and City Hall would not exist.