Kennedy Park
Built - 1881

Maine's second largest city, Lewiston, lies on the banks of the Androscoggin River alongside the Maine Turnpike. The city is also located midway between the state's spectacular coastline and lush green mountains. The city has a proud history and still has many of its 19th century buildings within the city limits. Its name was given in honor of Job Lewis who was a Boston merchant and proprietor who helped develop the city. Also, the great Franklin Company, owned by a number of other Boston investors, led by Benjamin E. Bates (Bates College in the city is named after him), reorganized the Lewiston Power Company in the mid 1800s, financed the money to build dams, canals and later mills which allowed the city to prosper and grow during those early times. The company also set aside a recreation spot for their workers, now called Kennedy Park, formerly City Park and Lewiston Park.
Here in Kennedy Park is where Lewiston's venerable old bandstand proudly sits. Kennedy Park itself was laid out in the 1860s and still maintains its "X" and cross path system which has a good number of elm trees in a row, and has an overall formal and symmetrical appearance like the canals developed in the area when the Franklin Company took over the city's building project. Within the grounds also stands a Civil War monument enclosed by a low cast iron fence set on a granite base and is said to be the first one of its kind in the state.
In a May 1882 article in the Lewiston Evening Journal, it is noted that gas burners (presumably for lighting events held at the bandstand) additional benches and the fact that a special policeman was on duty until midnight, suggests the popularity of the park and concerts that were being held on the bandstand. It also states that "The bandstand has been moved back thirty feet, to a central position between the two main walks. It has been repaired and tinned and will be repainted." Not much other information is known about the bandstand.
In a series of early twentieth century photographs, the park also has numerous benches and ornamental shrubs in selected locations including some around the base of the Civil War monument and also had an elaborate fountain as a focal point. Today the park still retains its rectangular shape but the southern quadrant has been altered with the addition of a swimming pool, recreation building, basketball cour and playground with many trees being either removed or replaced. Still the most prominent feature of the park is the Victorian bandstand and the Civil War monument.
Given to the city of Lewiston by the Franklin Company, the bandstand was built in 1881, although the date of 1861 is on its dome which is actually the date the park was donated to the city. The bandstand was given by Lewiston's forefathers due to their love of outdoor concerts of which the bandstand has seen countless numbers over the many years of its existence. There was actually another bandstand in the city, the Lincoln Street Bandstand, which was demolished in July of 1937 since it was determined to be unsafe.
Jim Allard, Library Technician
Lewiston Public Library

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