Village overview 4: “The Corner”
The turnpike gave today’s Main and Portland Streets the shape we recognize, as the town drifted north from the old settlement to a new hub on the plain. A map of 1805 shows how surveyors laid out the road to Portland through what is now downtown South Berwick, widening and straightening it to ease the route of oxen hauling heavy loads. Nine buildings that were in the way—likely some that still stand today – were moved from the highway’s path to nearby locations.
Even though the road was straighter, it still had to wrap around Butler Hill. The Portland Street-Main Street intersection was to be known as “the Corner.”
With the coming of the 19th century, the town of South Berwick took shape. In 1814 it became separate from Berwick and North Berwick, and statehood came to Maine in 1820. As cotton mills boomed at Salmon Falls and Quamphegan after 1830, the commercial and residential district developed—South Berwick Village. The wide intersection at the Corner appears on a map of c. 1860 as Central Square.