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Street names like Main, Broadway, Maple and Elm are present in many towns and cities across the United States. In Bangor, there are some street names with distinctly local origins, named for prominent politicians and business leaders or for important figures from the 19th century.
Here are some of the more notable ones we’ve found.
Kossuth Street: We’re not entirely certain of how this street off Ohio Street got its name, but it is unusual that a Hungarian last name would end up as a place-name in Bangor. But it may have been named sometime in the 1850s for Lajos Kossuth, who in 1848 became famous for leading a Hungarian uprising against Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. Kossuth became world renowned as a freedom fighter for democracy. He led Hungary for only a few years until it was returned to Austrian rule in 1851, and later took some controversial stances that alienated him from former supporters.
In 1851, England offered him asylum, and Kossuth went on speaking tours across the United States and Europe and became immensely popular — New England statesman and orator Daniel Webster even wrote a book about him. Thus, there are many places in the country named for him, including in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Ohio, Iowa and, most likely, in Bangor. There was also an unincorporated territory in Washington County also named Kossuth, now part of Township 7 Range 2.
Boutelle Road: This residential street in the Fairmount neighborhood was named for Charles Boutelle, a 19th-century politician, newspaper editor and publisher and naval officer born in Damariscotta in 1839. Among his many accomplishments was his service in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War and his stint as editor in chief of the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, a position he held for 30 years between 1870 and 1900. He served nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1882 and his death in 1901, the second-longest serving Maine congressman after Thomas Brackett Reed.
Thomas Hill Road: Thomas Hill, the elevation that gives this street its name, is named after 19th-century Bangor brothers James and Charles Thomas, who owned the land that is now owned by the Bangor Water District. Today the hill is occupied by the famous Thomas Hill Standpipe.
Thomas Hill the geological formation is not to be confused with Thomas Hill the person, the identically named man who in the 1830s was president of a Bangor bank, and for whom the Union Street building that houses the Bangor Historical Society is named.
Dutton Street: Today, Dutton Street isn’t much more than an access road to the Cross Insurance Center, Bass Park, the Fireside Inn and Geaghan’s Pub and Brewery. But 100 years ago, it was a much longer street that was part of a large area once owned by Samuel Dutton, a judge and a founder of Bangor Theological Seminary.
In the 1820s, Dutton owned a farm where the Interstate 395 interchange is today. The city purchased the farm in 1827, where they built a large facility to operate as an almshouse, or “poor farm,” to house the city’s poorest residents. The building later housed Beal College and Manna Ministries, and today is the site of the Dutton House Inn, a long-term room rental facility.
The town of Glenburn was also once known as Dutton, before it changed to its current name in 1837.
Plaisted Street: This tiny little spur off Hammond Street, between Interstate 95 and 14th Street, was named for the 38th governor of Maine, Harris Plaisted. Plaisted was also a colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War, and at one point commanded the 11th Maine Infantry Regiment. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives and practiced law in Bangor. In 1880, he was elected governor and served one two-year term.
Hannibal Street and Hersey Avenue: Two more short streets located between 14th Street and the highway, these residential byways are named for two prominent Bangor politicians. Hamlin Street is named for Hannibal Hamlin, the famous Bangor resident who served as U.S. vice president from 1861 to 1865 under Abraham Lincoln, as well as a U.S. senator.
Hersey Avenue was named for Samuel Hersey, a Bangor lumber baron and a close friend of Hamlin’s who served in the Maine House of Representatives. When he died in 1875, Hersey left his fortune to the city, which used it to build the former City Hall on Hammond Street and the Bangor Public Library.