Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
Millinocket has a birthday soon, March 16, and it will 121 years since the small settlement sprang up near the rapidly growing paper mill in the woods. Many changes have occurred during those years in the Magic City.
A reproduction front page of the Bangor Daily Commercial for June 2, 1900 describes the “crude” but “flourishing village” that has grown “in the past year.” At that time there already about 100 houses. There two grocery stores (JF Kimball & Co.), a jeweler, four barber shops, a drug store (Heebner’s Drug), boot and shoe stores, a men’s furnishings store (John, Harry & Carroll Rush), two milliners (Mrs. Gwynn) plus a hardware store and a plumbing establishment. The newspaper states, “one may see by the millinery establishments that Millinocket is no Eveless Eden. There are already a good number of women there and more are coming daily, as rapidly as accommodations can be provided.”
In addition to these early businesses, there were several boarding houses on streets near the mill. A public-school attempt was made with some elementary classes at Union Chapel near the mill until Millinocket HS & Common School opened in 1902. Any high school age child wishing an education had to board elsewhere.
Plans were underway for building the Great Northern Hotel. It was planned to be a “mecca for all sportsmen visiting the locality. The company proposes to have a handsome hostelry erected in the center of town at a cost of about $30,000.”
Solid, substantial houses were being erected “giving an air of prosperity to the settlement.” The company rule said no permit for houses costing less than $750. The company “desires a town of about 4000 population.” In 1900, the company believed about 300 tenement houses were needed and they offered inducements for people to locate in Millinocket. The rents were very high…houses costing from $900 - $1000 were renting quickly at the high price of $12 a month. The cheapest board was $4 a week! A further company condition was “no liquor in Millinocket.”
In 1900, there were no paved streets, but “an excellent road is now in process of construction from Medway, a trifle less than ten miles away.”
The plan was for GNP to employ 600-700 men with laborers paid $1.50 per diem, skilled workers got $2-$2.50 and machine men $3-$5. Labor was to be largely native and preference was given to Americans and to married men as they were deemed to be “more steady and reliable.” At print time of the article, 1000 men were employed with 2/3 being employees of Mullen Contracting Company including 400 Italians with most living in Little Italy.