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Native Americans, who relied on the waters for fish and the area for hunting bison and caribou, first settled Kennebunkport.
Bartholomew Gosnold was the first European explorer to “discover” Kennebunkport. He landed at the seaside town in 1602. In 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain renamed the area from Porpoise Harbor (as reportedly named by the Indians) to “les port aux isles” (Island Harbor).
In 1614, Captain John Smith arrived and attracted fishing parties to the area, and within 6 years, there were vessels regularly out in the harbor. People began settling along the shore and in the area, until the mid and late 1600s when wars began with the resident Indians.
Once that subsided, the Kennebunkport people began settling even more into their community and renamed the area Kennebunkport once Maine declared its independence from Massachusetts.
The area quickly became a vacation paradise for the wealthy, who built vacation homes along the shore and resorts opened to cater to the vacationers. Today, it remains a popular getaway for many people who live on the East Coast and is well known as the summer retreat of the Bush family – most notably former President George Bush and his son, President George W. Bush.