In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Biddeford History & Heritage Project

Sharing the history of a proud city rising where the water falls

VII. Flow and ebb: the effects of industrial peak & global upheaval (1900-1955)

(Page 2 of 3) Print Version 

By 1910 Biddeford was the 4th largest city in Maine. Biddeford's ethnic make-up was diverse and urbane, and the city's residents included business owners, doctors, lawyers, judges, druggists, opticians, superintendents, artisans and crafters of all backgrounds. They lived and worked throughout Biddeford, from the coast to the hills. Many of them built graceful, stately homes throughout town--some even with winter homes "in town" and then summer cottages out at the Pool or towards Kennebunkport.

Women were entrepreneurial in their own right, and started social, educational, and charitable organizations to improve themselves and their community as well. More children were being educated in public or parochial schools, moving on to public, parochial or private high schools--boys and girls. Many went off to college. The philanthropic spirit in Biddeford was to thank for most of the longest-lived social institutions of the City, including the Webber Hospital (Southern Maine Medical Center) and the McArthur Public Library. The Franco community, while shunning assimilation for "la survivance" of the French culture, championed the expansion of educational opportunities, especially for girls, which included creating college-level courses available to young ladies. These courses were taught by the well-educated nuns from Quebec in the city, and an arrangement with Laval University allowed for conferral of an actual degree if the coursework was met.