Friendship is located on a peninsula surrounded by the waters of Muscongus Bay. Like other small Maine towns Friendship is tight-knit community. There are two churches, a school for children from kindergarten to sixth grade (upper grades are bussed to district schools in Waldoboro), a volunteer fire department, a historical society and museum, a library, numerous working wharfs, boatyards, a lobster trap company, a grocery store and deli with a gas pump, and a seasonal seafood restaurant. There are no motels, but there is a B&B in the center of town and a small campground on an island.
By town, Friendship’s lobster landings-by-value are the fifth largest in the state . While lobsters are the primary catch, clams, scallops, shrimp (when allowed), tuna and other fish are also harvested. Recently some fishermen have been seining for bait-fish as they did years ago. Many of the lobstermen belong to co-ops and there are a number of wharfs along the shore buying and selling lobster. There is a town wharf for public use and there are five town landings where boats can be launched. Friendship is known among sailors for the iconic Friendship sloop. These gaff-rigged boats were designed to be sailed single-handedly while fishing and are now popular as a pleasure boat.
The year-round population of Friendship is 1100 and many of the town’s waterfront properties are owned by those from “away”. In the winter there are areas of town with very few inhabitants. When the owners return each summer, the number of people in town swells and you may have to wait in line a little longer at Wallace’s Market. Many summer people occupy cottages that have been in their families for generations and quite a few of them retire here.
Friendship Day is held in July and is a home-grown celebration that includes activities that stretch over two weekends including lobster boat races, a best-pie contest, and the last Saturday of the month is a day filled with activities that include a parade, road races, children’s games, a bake sale, a craft fair, an auction, and a barbeque. The proceeds of the events benefit our emergency services.
Friendship does not have the amenities of other coastal towns, but prides itself in being a hardworking town that is committed to preserving the marine heritage that it was built on.
Friendship lies on a point of land reaching into Muscongus Bay bordered by the Medomak River to the west and the Meduncook River to the east. When the first European settlers arrived in the area Maine was still a part of Massachusetts and the settlement was called Meduncook Plantation. Lincoln County was founded in 1760 from a portion of York County. Friendship was incorporated in 1807 and was included in Lincoln County until the Knox County was established in 1860.
The presence of shell middens along the shores and islands of Friendship are evidence of the Wabanaki people’s use of the land over many centuries. The earliest known English settlement of Meduncook Plantation dates to the 1740s. By 1754 there were twenty-two families dwelling here, many having moved from the Plymouth area of Massachusetts to receive land grants from the Waldo Patent. The French and Indian War made it necessary to construct a fort for the protection of the settlers on Garrison Island, which is accessible from the mainland at low tide. On the morning of May 22nd, 1758 the alarm was sounded at the fort warning of attack, but the family of Joshua Bradford, who was living near Garrison Island in a cabin on what is still known as Bradford Point, was caught by surprise. Joshua (who was the great-grandson of Governor William Bradford) his wife Hannah, and their infant son Winslow were killed and two of their sons were taken captive. Three daughters and another son survived. The raids along the mid-coast area ended shortly thereafter and by 1772 forty families formed the community.
The 1770s were a time of strong patriotic sentiment and the people of Meduncook Plantation sent word to the leaders of Lincoln County that they were suspending all commerce with Great Britain. A Friendship captain and members of his crew took part in the Boston Tea Party.
By the time of its incorporation in 1807 Friendship had a population of approximately 450. The sea surrounds the town and figured heavily in the town’s industries. Fishing and boat building continue to provide employment.