In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Changing Times

Text by Karyn Field

Through the early 1800s Hampden held its own economically with its neighbor Bangor, even having the larger population. However, beginning in the 1840s Bangor gained dominance. Hampden became the place to go for social activities such as Riverside Park. However, as time passed and places like Riverside Park that offered social opportunities closed, people looked to other towns and cities for entertainment.

Before World War II, most of the men in Hampden still worked within the town’s boundaries. With only a few exceptions, virtually all of the people living in the town knew one another. Products or services that were needed were usually available in town without the need to travel to Bangor. It was not until after the war, and most especially during the 1960s and 1970s, that Hampden became a suburb of Bangor. Today there are only a handful of descendents of the early settlers still living in the area. The majority of the present population did not grow up in Hampden and most residents work elsewhere, usually Bangor or Orono. It is now necessary to go elsewhere to buy some items, which is in sharp contrast to the former days when numerous general stores in Hampden supplied the necessities for daily life. However, there is no question that Hampden has, over the years, become a thriving, prosperous town while it has enjoyed continued growth. The people who live in the town today share a great deal with Benjamin Wheeler and the other early settlers, a lovely physical setting, a rich historical heritage, and an attitude of working and living for today while always thinking and planning for the future. How very apt is the motto used by Hampden Academy which came from John Hampden’s home county of Buck’s which is “Vestigia nulla retrorsum”—No footsteps backward. (Hansord-Miller 1976)