The 180-foot dome of the State House, constructed of Maine granite, is one of the most distinguishing architectural features of Augusta. Noted Boston architect Charles Bullfinch designed this elegant structure, built in 1829, two years after Augusta became the state capital. Augusta and neighboring Hallowell are former Native American villages. The pilgrims arrived in 1625 and set up a trading post along the Kennebec River. The rich history of the region is chronicled at The Maine State Museum, adjacent to the State House. The museum covers 12,000 years of Maine life through life-like exhibits and more than 2,000 artifacts dating from the end of the Ice Age through the 1800s.
Augusta’s Fort Western, built in 1754, is the oldest surviving wooden fort in New England. Benedict Arnold used it as a staging point for his assault on Quebec during the American Revolution. Today, its story is told through living history programs that emulate daily life at the fort during the 18th century. The historic buildings that line Hallowell’s main streets house a good selection of antique shops, specialty stores, and several exceptional restaurants. Augusta is the gateway to the China and Belgrade Lakes regions, laid-back resort communities where boating, angling, and swimming prevail. Belgrade is home to a top-ranked golf course, and Ernest Thompson wrote “On Golden Pond” while staying here. Visitors can ride in the mail boat made famous by the movie version of Thompson’s book as it delivers mail to residents along Great Pond.