Brewer is the sister city of Bangor, Maine. The two are on opposite sides of the Penobscot River and are connected by three bridges. Brewer and Bangor were originally both part of Condeskeag Plantation, though the Brewer part was also called "New Worcester" after John Brewer's birthplace. In 1788 Orrington, Maine was incorporated with Brewer/New Worcester as its major village. The other half of Condeskeag incorporated in 1791 as Bangor. Finally, in 1812 Brewer broke away from Orrington and incorporated as a separate town.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.6 square miles (40.4 km²), of which, 15.1 square miles (39.1 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km²) of it is water. The total area is 3.21% fresh water.
The villages of South Brewer and North Brewer are both within city limits. South Brewer was formerly the city's major industrial area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,987 people, 3,842 households, and 2,401 families residing in the city. The population density was 595.3 people per square mile (229.8/km²). There were 4,064 housing units at an average density of 269.2/sq mi (103.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.63% White, 0.33% African American, 0.63% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.63% of the population.
There were 3,842 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.5% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.4% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,949, and the median income for a family was $46,632. Males had a median income of $35,016 versus $26,850 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,158. About 8.6% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.3% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.
The MTV television show High School Stories once featured a segment filmed in Brewer. The local Colonel Sanders Statue by the KFC restaurant was stolen by some seniors from John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, Maine. John Bapst refused to let the show tape in their high school and accordingly it was recorded at Brewer High School. The statue was completely removed from the park bench, except for the hand which was left as a mysterious reminder of the beloved fried chicken guru.
Maj. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, was a Civil War Hero, President of Bowdoin College and later Governor of Maine Gen. John Blake, a Revolutionary War officer, led local militia against the British in the Battle of Hampden (1814) in the War of 1812. Col. Jasper Hutchings led an African-American regiment in the American Civil War and afterwards became Mayor of Brewer.
Howie Day, singer-musician, was raised in Brewer and graduated from Brewer High School in 1999.
Adrian Grenier, actor, lived in Brewer for a number of years in the early to mid 1990's.
Chris Drew, musician (Oasis) stage guitar, was raised in Brewer and graduated from Brewer High School in 2002.
Shawn Danielson singer-song writer for the band "Smile Empty Soul" lived in Brewer in the late 90's went to Brewer High School.
Charles Fletcher Dole became an influential Unitarian Minister, speaker, and writer in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts, and Chairman of the Association to Abolish War. His son James Dole (who was born in Massachusetts) moved to Hawaii and became the "Pineapple King". Oliver C. Farrington was a noted geologist and expert on meteorites at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Fannie Hardy Eckstorm was an author, ornithologist, folklorist, and researcher on psychic phenomena.
Lewis Orsmond Brastow (1834-1912) became Dean of the Yale Divinity School. Brastow died a month after the New York Times revealed that his son had secretly married Josephine Conner, an Irish-American factory worker.
Charles Eugene Tefft (1874-1951) was a noted sculptor, five of whose works still stand in Bangor (including the Statue of Hannibal Hamlin, "The Last Drive" or Luther Pierce Memorial, "Lady Victory" in Norumbega Park, and the Spanish-American War Memorial in Davenport Park. Other works by Tefft survive in New York City, Washington, St. Louis, and elsewhere. There is a bust of Joshua L. Chamberlain by Tefft in the Brewer Public Library.
Clara M. Smith of Brewer was the wife of Leonard B. Smith, American Consul to the Dutch West Indies (the present Netherlands Antilles) in the late 19th century. When Smith died, Clara married the new American Consul, Elias H. Cheney, in 1907.
Ship-building was also a major Brewer industry, as was saw-milling. Brewer's sawmills tended to be steam-powered, unlike those farther up the Penobscot River, which were powered by water-falls. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the city also had a significant ice industry, which survives today in the form of the Getchell Brothers company.
The Eastern Manufacturing Company opened a pulp and paper mill in South Brewer in 1889 that became the city's largest employer. The mill closed in 2004, and the site is now being re-developed by the CIANBRO Corporation. The Eastern began as a sawmill owned by Fred W. Ayer, who in the late 1880s began experimenting with paper-making (using the newly-developed sulfite process) in order to utilize his left-over slab lumber. In 1899 Ayer patented a new method of sulfite digestion which subsequently became the basis for operations at the Eastern, as well as the Great Northern mill in Millinocket, Maine, thus circumventing an important patent owned by the competing International Paper Corporation. "The Eastern", as the mill was known locally, began specializing in fine grades of paper around 1905 (such as their trademark "Atlantic Bond"), and the company was eventually renamed "Eastern Fine Paper, Inc."
In the early morning hours of Aug. 29, 1903, bank robbers broke into the Brewer Savings Bank using dynamite. They got only $300 from the vault (most of the money having been removed) and retreated across the bridge to Bangor firing their guns at people in Brewer and police on the Bangor side. Despite mobilizing the entire Bangor police force in pursuit, they escaped capture. A Bank Looted: Cracksmen Terrorize the Inhabitants of a Town
On June 12, 1906, four Brewer High School students drowned while sailing at Brewer Lake. On hearing the news, a woman in nearby Old Town went into a trance and reportedly identified the location of the bodies with some accuracy, though they were recovered before her information arrived at the lake. The incident was later reported in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. Graduation ceremonies were canceled and 1,000 people attended the funeral. Deaths Prompted Psychic Research
The Ku Klux Klan paraded openly down North Main Street in Brewer in 1924.