Cape Elizabeth

A Seaside Gem

Cape Elizabeth: A Look into the Past

From Frontier life to Comfort by the Sea

Cape Elizabeth was first visited by Europeans in 1605 when Samuel de Champlain visited Richmond Island, later turning it into a trading post in 1628. In 1615, after exploring and mapping New England, John Smith presented the map to King Charles I of England, inviting him to replace the names Smith had gotten from the Native Americans with more English names. King Charles chose to name this seaside land Cape Elizabeth in honor of his sister, Elizabeth of Bohemia. It wasn’t until 1636 that the mainland of Cape Elizabeth was officially settled when the Lord Proprietor of Maine, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, gave George Cleeve and Richard Tucker a grant of 1,500 acres of land. The land was later purchased in 1643 by Alexander Rigby, a member of the English Parliament. The settlement in Cape Elizabeth, known as Purpoodock, was attacked by natives in 1675 during King Philip’s War and again in 1690 during King William’s War. Just over 10 years later in 1703, Cape Elizabeth was attacked once more during Queen Anne’s War, this time being destroyed and remaining unoccupied until 1719 when it was resettled. Cape Elizabeth separated from Portland on November 1, 1765, becoming Maine’s 23rd town. The town was again divided in 1895 when the northern section broke away to create South Portland. Construction of a US Army coast artillery fort was started in 1872 and named Fort Williams in 1899 to honor Civil War Major General Seth Williams. The fort remained active from 1899 through 1962 when it was sold to the town, who repurposed it as a park. Cape Elizabeth started its life as a humble trading and fishing outpost residing on a small coastal island. Enduring those tough and uncertain years, Cape Elizabeth slowly molded itself into a community that highlights the best of what it means to live in Maine. Each year, Cape Elizabeth attracts people from around the globe to its magnificent views and famous lighthouses.

Our Picks

Recommendations for Food, Activities, and More!

Here’s just a quick list of some of our personal favorite places to visit in Cape Elizabeth. Feel free to try them out for yourselves, or if you’re feeling adventurous, explore on your own and tell us about some of your favorite places. We’d love to hear from you!



Kettle Cove Ice Cream & Shack

The Good Table

The Lobster Shack

C Salt Gourmet Market

The Well at Jordan’s Farm

Places to Visit

Kettle Cove

Two Lights State Park

Portland Head Lighthouse

Fort Williams Park

Crescent Beach

Brian’s Story

Cape Elizabeth

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