In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Lincoln Block

Text by Isla Brazier, Brody Losier, Haley Scott, and Brianna Swain
7th grade students at Bath Middle School
With images from the Patten Free Library

The Lincoln Block, located at 52, 54, and 56 Front Street, originally known as the Sagadahock Bank Block, was built in 1878. It became known as the Lincoln Block in 1895, when the Lincoln Bank absorbed the Sagadahock Bank. The Lincoln Block building was designed by architect, Francis Fassett and built in Italianate style with prominent brackets. The building now has a flat roof, but originally had a hip roof. It is brick with a granite foundation.

Before the Lincoln Bank was built in 1878, the Bath Bank building occupied the site at the southwestern corner of Centre and Front Streets. The Bath Bank building, the first brick building in downtown Bath, was built in 1810 with large columns facing Centre Street. When the Bath Bank building was torn down, the prominent eagle on the gabled front was saved and included in the the construction of the new building. In the Bath Bank building were the offices for the Sagadahock Bank and the Customs Collector. One of those customs collectors was William King, also the first governor of Maine. A customs collector has an office at a frontier where the customs duty on imports is collected.

The office of the ice harvesters was in the Lincoln Block. People went out on the river ice in the winter and cut blocks of ice with large snows. They stored the ice in big barns with hay and sawdust. The hay and sawdust preserved the ice for long periods of time. The ice would stay there until summer. When summer came, workers would take the ice down south by ship where they could use it to keep things cold, so produce, meats, and dairy goods would stay fresh longer.

There were many people involved with the Lincoln Block, but there was one person that stands out -- William King. William King was born in 1768 in Scarborough, Maine. He originally worked at a sawmill in Topsham, eventually owning it. He next set up a partnership with his brother-in-law, Dr. Benjamin Jones Porter, and opened a store, which was conducted by Dr. Porter. He became the first governor of Maine in 1820 to 1821. In 1829 to 1834 he was the Customs Collector in the Bath Bank building. In 1802, William King married Ann Frazier. He built the Bath Bank in 1810 and died on June 17th, 1852.

Francis Henry Fassett was born June 25, 1823. He was the supervising architect of the Maine Historical Society building and therefore elected as honorary member of that institution. He contributed to many other architectural endeavors in the city of Bath and designed the Lincoln Block building. He died in his home on November 1st, 1908, with a sudden case of pneumonia.

The Bath Bank was important to the history of Bath because it was the first bank in the city. For most of the 19th century one bank or another occupied the first floor of the Lincoln Block. The last bank to occupy the building was the First National Bank, from 1910 to 1960. After that, Freeman's Barbershop (1963-1977) and The Vamoo Barbershop (1973-2005) were on the first floor.