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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Brewer’s Schools By DAVID M. FITZPATRICK, special sections writer By 1882, in a time before school buses, there were 11 schoolhouses containing 15 schools in local neighborhoods, plus a free high school at the ferry village (its classes were held at the town hall, then later at the Brimmer Street School). The advent of buses made it possible for schools to serve broader areas. By the 1960s, Brewer had six schools in operation: Capri Street School, Pendleton Street School, State Street School (1948), and Washington Street School (1952) served grammar-school children; the Junior High School on Somerset Street (originally built as the high school in 1926); and Brewer High School, built in 1958. With all the schools aging, in 2011 a new school, built to replace all the K-8 schools, opened on the site of the former Pendleton Street School (which had closed due to a mold problem several years before). The new Brewer Community School was designed to echo the history of Brewer, with its various wings designed to reflect five themes: shipbuilding, the river, ice harvesting, brickmaking, and papermaking. Hallways use colors and motifs to convey those themes, and historical photos adorn walls throughout. In September 2012, Brewer voters approved a referendum (by a 10 to 1 margin) to accept $5.4 million in interest-free federal funding that will be used for much-needed renovations at the 54-year-old high school. With a new school not likely, the money will renovate the old school and keep it viable for years to come. The money will relocate and conjoin administrative offices, add a 100seat lecture hall, dramatically improve the

The new Brewer Community School was designed to echo the history of Brewer, with its various wings designed to reflect five themes: shipbuilding, the river, ice harvesting, brick-making, and papermaking.

BDN Photo by DAVID M. FITZPATRICK

capacity and appearance of the cafeteria, and add a new bus lane that will connect with Acme Road and eliminate traffic challenges in the morning and afternoon on Parkway South. Then, this month, Brewer was awarded a $2.7 million Quality School Construction bond. This will go to the voters this fall. Like the first bond, if the voters don’t approve it, the money goes elsewhere.

On the cover Brewer Community School was completed in 2011 by WBRC Architects and General Contractor, Nickerson & O’Day. Butch Moor of Aerial Photography of Maine captured this image from high above the construction site. The building has environmentally sustainable features including roof monitors and light tubes that provide natural light, outside air supply to rooms and recycled construction materials.

Image courtesy of WBRC Architects & Engineers

ABOVE: A view of the Brewer Community School from the state-of-the-art track. INSET: A concept sketch of how Brewer High School will look after its $5.4 million in renovations. A new bond of $2.7 million, if approved, will further enhance the school.

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Special Sections Editor Brian Swartz 990-8137

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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Brewer’s Public Recreation

Looking for leisure and recreation activities? There’s plenty to do in Brewer at a wide range of public facilities.

Boat Launch:

On North Main Street, for river access. Picnic tables and benches on

site.

Brewer Auditorium Complex: This includes the community center, Doyle Field, the Community Playground, and the Municipal Swimming Pool. The playground is handicap accessible and can accommodate up to 100. The swimming pool is one of the largest outdoor pools in Eastern Maine and is open for 10 weeks during the summer. Caldwell Ice Rink: Lighted outdoor ice rink located adjacent to Penobscot Ice Arena at the end of Acme Road. Capri Street School: A full size soccer field and play structures. Eastern Park: this 1.5-acre park on South Main has two playground sites, picnic tables, benches, and a scenic view of the Penobscot River. Fisherman’s Park/Scenic Turnouts: Located along South Main Street overlooking the Penobscot River, these areas provide picnic tables, benches, and beautiful views of the river. Fling Street Park: This quarter acre park is located on Fling Street and has been recently renovated to include new manufactured playground equipment. Indian Trail Park: This 4-acre park in North Brewer has picnic tables, benches, scenic river views, and a sliding hill. A walking trail that overlooks the river runs along the park and beyond, providing excellent views. Maple Street Park: This 6-acre park, once the site of a junkyard, has been transformed into a beautiful neighborhood park. Features a paved walking path, baseball field, soccer field, picnic tables, and benches. Penobscot Landing and Children’s Garden: On the waterfront behind Dead River Oil, this half-acre park features themed plantings, walking paths, a waterfall and an area for events such as weddings or performances. The Children’s Garden is along the waterfront walking trail. School Street Park: A small pocket park with playground equipment for tots, a picnic table, and shade trees. Sherwood Forest Park: Located off Friar Tuck Lane, this 10 acre wooded park has a newly constructed loop trail for walking. Sunset Park: 2-acre park on Parkway South; two fenced-in basketball courts and a park area where the Brewer Hometown Band performs summer concerts. Tennis Courts: Located at Brewer High School, four outdoor lighted tennis courts. Veteran’s Park: Completed in 1998, this park is located next to the Penobscot Bridge and provides excellent vistas of the river. It has a sheltered picnic table and benches. Washington Street School Complex: Little League field and two Farm League fields. —Courtesy of Brewer Parks and Recreation

Photo by David M. Fitzpatrick

The paved trail at Maple Street Park. The trail encircles the baseball field.


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Business is booming

By DAVID M. FITZPATRICK, special sections writer

There are businesses all over Brewer, but the two primary business corridors are Wilson and Main Streets. Wilson has experienced much growth in recent years; big-box stores such as Walmart and Lowe’s have opened busy locations, and Eastern Maine Healthcare’s facility near the I-395 ramps has become a business anchor at that end of town with its Cianchette Building and the Lafayette Cancer Center. Smaller businesses have sprung up along the corridor, and long-time small businesses have flourished. Dirigo Drive, built several years ago, parallels Wilson Street and offers a traffic alternative. Development has been slow as the city has worked through logistical problem, as well as issues of conserved lands, BDN photo by Brian Swartz to build it. Meanwhile, the city has been The rising sun casts light and shadow across traffic steadily working to widen and improve on Wilson Street in Brewer recently. Wilson Street, doing it one section at a time.

This year, the final leg will be completed, and Wilson Street will be five lanes from Parkway South all the way to Holden. This addresses a long-running problem of business on Wilson Street — that left-turning traffic causes snarls in the lane behind it. A center turning lane will address this. The twin strip malls of the Brewer Shopping Center and the Twin City Plaza sit where Wilson and State Streets meet. They anchor one end of a long stretch of business along Wilson Street, which is the busiest and most densely developed business district in Brewer. In the old days, the two centers of business were near the river, in North and South Brewer. The North Brewer Shopping Center continues to be an established location, with the Paradis supermarket a hub for local neighborhoods. Small businesses continue

to flourish. South Main Street should see development near the Chamberlain Bridge, as Brewer’s waterfront-trails plan is geared towards attracting businesses to that part of town. Further down towards South Brewer, Cianbro assumed the honor of becoming a major employer on the site where Eastern Fine Paper was to the community for so many decades. And many small businesses down that way have been fixtures for years, from Van Raymond Outfitters to Civil Engineering Services and many more. Brewer is a city of business, but also of community. With residential neighborhoods surrounding all areas of business, and wetlands that prohibit development in certain areas, it’s a balanced city where you can find everything you need and still have relaxed communities.

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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

City-wide trail system in the works By DAVID M. FITZPATRICK, special sections writer The waterfront trail is under development, but it’s just the beginning of an eventual citywide system called the Penobscot Landing Multi-Use Trail. It will follow the Felts Brook corridor, which runs from Dirigo Drive to I-395, then circles northwesterly and ends at the river in North Brewer. The system will include on- and off-road components. To build it, the city and the Brewer Land Trust have been acquiring land for several years along Felts Brook. Much of it has come from conservation easements that will be in place forever, thanks to developers. Here’s how it works. If a developer wants to build on wetlands, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers must approve the project. They will then require the developer to put land into conservation ease-

ments, enhance existing wetlands, or create new wetlands. So if a developer wants to build on one wetland acre, the DEP might demand 10 acres of conserved lands elsewhere, which preserves more wetlands than are destroyed. Easements are generally kept local. In fact, the land where Felts Brook empties into the Penobscot in North Brewer was provided by Lowe’s when it built in Brewer. And when the City of Brewer built Dirigo Drive, it purchased land along Felts Brook for conservation easements. One objective of the trail is to have multiple offshoots to get people places, such as the schools, the library, and the auditorium. People will be able to use the trails to get around town safely, off the road. The long-term dream is to join with regional and national trail networks.

BDN photo by DAVID M. FITZPATRICK

A view of a wooden bridge on the Sherwood Forest Trail, a recent project of the Brewer Land Trust, which is working to conserve lands in Brewer with a goal of working with the city to establish walking trails. The bridge was an Eagle Scout project by Ryan Ward in 2011.


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Brewer PAC strengthening its programming By DAVID M. FITZPATRICK, special sectionS writer When the K-8 Brewer Community School opened in 2011, it included a 487-seat auditorium with a stage, theater lighting, and a top-shelf audio system capable of 24-track recording — in a facility that is an acoustic marvel. The PAC has hosted the likes of Dave Mallett, Rick Charette, and Grammy nominee Judy Pancoast. Comedian Tim Sample, folk group Schooner Fare, and many others are in the works. Locally, the Thomas School of Dance and Bangor Ballet, as well as River City Cinema, have utilized the PAC. In the

works are “genre” events, such as having events featuring blues, jazz, Celtic, and folk music. The PAC can provide everything a visiting performer or act might want: ushers, a ready room, dressing rooms, lighting and sound technicians, a stage manager, and even a Clear-Com two-way-radio system. And the theater can accommodate guests who are hard of hearing by broadcasting audio to 20 listening-assist devices. The PAC can show high-definition films in what makes a great movie theater (albeit

Photo courtesy the Brewer PAC

without Surround Sound, but one thing at a time). River City Cinema has already showed a movie there. In the works is a 24-foot outdoor screen for movies that can move inside if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Meanwhile, Brewer students are reaping the benefits. Not only is the PAC a great place for concerts and plays, but students taking classes on lighting, audio, and stage manage-

The inside entrance to the PAC.

ment get real-world exposure. While the PAC will support its maintenance and operation, an endowment committee will pursue the creation of a long-term fund to support future upgrades. Raising money could start with naming rights to everything: the building, the hall, the light booth, the audio booth, the dressing room, and the stage.


BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Doyle Field ready for renovations Doyle Field is a lighted football and softball field with stadium seating for 1,500. The site is used for everything from sports to day camps to sliding to skating. Donated by the family of fire chief “Dicky” Doyle in 1928, Doyle Field has been a community center for 85 years. It’s adjacent to the Brewer Auditorium, located between Wilson and State Streets. In recent years, more than just sports have happened there, but the field is deteriorating. Currently, a committee is working to raise about $1.4 million to renovate the field. Most of the money will go towards earthwork and drainage and the installation of artificial turf — necessary because the field doesn’t drain well and is often unusable. Sports practices are often canceled, and games are relocated to other towns at expense to the city. Other expenses include chain-link fencing, a new press box with public restrooms, and possibly upgraded lighting. The field has seen increased use in recent years, but there is an impasse: without improvements, the field can’t be used for more events. The committee and, based on a survey, the community, feels the field can attract more events to Brewer once the renovations are done. The donation of the land to the city came with conditions that it forever be named Doyle Field, and that the land always be used for the community good. —David M. Fitzpatrick, Special Sections

Image courtesy WBRC Architect & Engineers

Concept art of what the renovated Doyle Field might look like.


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER


BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Waterfront trail comes to life, one bit at a time By DAVID M. FITZPATRICK, special sections writer Brewer is at work developing its waterfront walking trail. Thanks to $1.8 million in federal money, the Maine Department of Transportation began work last year on on the first stretch. The six-foot-wide, multi-use trail from the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge down to Hardy Street, featuring benches, lighting, and beautiful landscaping, will open this year. It’s not a big section, but it’s one of the most visible. The city has prepared for this for years, beginning with a $4 million shorestabilization project north of the Veterans Remembrance Bridge. Shore erosion has increased to 7-12 inches per year, probably due to water-flow changes from the bridge’s piers. Now, you can see boulders lining most of Brewer’s shoreline. The project began at the parking lot where the old Archer Block once stood, using HUD funds for extensive landscaping and to erect

a curved brick wall to mirror the familiar one on the other side of Wilson Street. The trail will run from the Muddy Rudder, and along the way include a Children’s Garden. At the end, on the former public-safety site, will be a second parking lot, where the city hopes to have a visitors’ center, public bathrooms, and possibly a take-out restaurant. Ultimately, the waterfront trail will run from Cianbro in South Brewer to Treat’s Falls in North Brewer. There will be stops along the way, with educational signs for walkers. The signs will explain the site’s importance: who was there, what happened there, what visitors can see (or not see), and so on. The waterfront redevelopment started several years ago when the city shored up the rapidly eroding shoreline (you can see the boulders) to prevent further erosion of city and private property.

Photo courtesy of the city of Brewer

The Brewer waterfront after shore erosion was corrected with boulders.


BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Bridges to Brewer Since the early settlements, people crossed between Brewer and Bangor by boat, and ferries became the norm. The most notable was the long-running series of three ferries with the name Bon Ton. The final one, the Bon Ton III, ran from 1922-1939 (and Robert L. Ripley once declared it the smallest steamdriven boat in the U.S.). But on November 9, 1939, a fire destroyed it and ended 55 years of regular service. Brewer and Bangor got its first bridge in 1832. The 440-yard-long, $50,000 wooden covered bridge, built by the Bangor Bridge Company, lasted just 14 years; in 1846, a massive ice jam destroyed it. The bridge was rebuilt the following year, and in 1873 a railroad bridge was constructed just above the covered bridge. In 1902, the covered bridge was again damaged by flooding, but by then tolls collected had paid for it many times over. By 1912, the wooden bridge was replaced by a

rewer

ulders.

PhotoS courtesy of Richard Shaw

TOP: In 1902, the second wooden covered bridge was wiped out by flooding. ABOVE: The tollbooths under construction on the Brewer side of the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, which is why the Brewer side has a wide flare today. The bridge opened on Nov. 11, 1954. Tollbooth workers issued vinyl pouches, which drivers filled with tickets and affixed to their dashboards. The bridge opened in 1955.

two-lane steel bridge called the Penobscot Bridge. On November 11, 1954, the new Joshua L. Chamberlain Bridge opened, named for one of Brewer’s most famous citizens. It collected tolls until 1971. The wide flare of the Brewer side is a reminder of where tollbooths once stood. The Veterans Remembrance Bridge was opened on Veterans Day 1984. Towering high above the river, this bridge extended I-395 across to Brewer and nearly to the Holden town line. The final bridge (so far) came in 1997. After having been declared unsafe for some time (large trucks and even ambulances had been disallowed crossing it since the early 1990s) the old Penobscot Bridge was replaced with a modern, four-lane structure, and the 85-year-old bridge was razed. One beam in its honor remains on the Brewer side. —David M. Fitzpatrick, Special Sections


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Chamberlain Freedom Park By DAVID M. FITZPATRICK, special sections writer

The park is on the former site of the historic John Holyoke House, which some believe was a safe house on the Underground Railroad.

Dedicated in 1997, Chamberlain Freedom Park, located at the intersection of North Main and State Streets, honors Brewer’s involvement in the Civil War. People are familiar with the statue depicting Joshua Chamberlain as a colonel, the rank he held when he led the legendary defense of Little Round Top, which helped the North to a decisive victory at Gettysburg. Historians generally regard that as the linchpin of the Union Army’s defense that day, and a major turning point in the war. The park is on the former site of the historic John Holyoke House, which some believe was a safe house on the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves to freedom in Canada (others dispute this). In honor of this, another statue depicts a slave climbing out of the ground, right above a

shaft that some believe once led slaves from a secret tunnel leading from the river to the house. (Despite efforts to preserve it, the Holyoke House was razed to support the new bridge construction in 1995.) The park was designed to represent aspects of the battlefield, notably the boulder-strewn ridge of Little Round Top. Campbell’s design was impressive enough for Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Christina Moon to visit Brewer and dub the site “‘Little’ Little Round Top.” The park’s boulders deliberately represent the battlefield breastworks — the boulder fortifications that gave cover to soldiers. There’s even a lone white pine like the one at Gettysburg, where white pines don’t normally grow. There’s even a direct view of the former Bangor Theological Seminary, which Chamberlain attended.

BDN photo by Brian Swartz

The Joshua Chamberlain statue at Chamberlain Freedom Park.


BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Joshua L. Chamberlain Joshua L. Chamberlain, perhaps Brewer’s most famous resident, was born Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain in Brewer on Sept. 8, 1828. He attended Colonel Whiting’s military school in Ellsworth before attending Bowdoin College in 1848, where he reportedly passed the entrance exam by teaching himself Ancient Greek, and graduated with honors in 1852. He then attended Bangor Theological Seminary and graduated in 1855. After teaching at Bowdoin as a professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, and later Modern Languages (he was fluent in 10), he took a leave of absence in August 1862 to serve the Union during the Civil War. Although he had no formal military training, his family had quite a military history. His great-grandfather, Franklin Chamberlain, was a sergeant at the battle of Yorktown during the Revolution. His grandfather, also named Joshua Chamberlain, was a colonel in the local militia during the War of 1812, and was court-martialed, but later exonerated, for his part in the Battle of Hampden, which led to the British sacking Bangor and Brewer. And his father had served during the Aroostook War in 1839. Gov. Israel Washburn Jr., commissioned Chamberlain as a lieutenant colonel and gave him command of the 20th Maine, which he led during battles at Antietam,

Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg, and for which he was promoted to full colonel in 1863. But it was his command of the left flank at Little Round Top that was later seen as a turning point in the war. He earned a field promotion to brigadier general, issued by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant himself; in 1865, following his performance at Quaker’s Road, he was promoted to major general. He presided over the Confederate infantry during Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. After the war, he returned to teaching at Bowdoin, and later became governor of Maine from 1866-1870 (elected four consecutive years). He then returned to Bowdoin and became its president until 1883, when complications from his war wounds forced his retirement. In 1898, at age 70, he tried to return to military service during the SpanishAmerican War; he was rejected due to his ill health, which he deemed one his the greatest disappointments in his life. His home across from Bowdoin is now the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum, but his first home in Brewer stands today. A monument to him in Chamberlain Freedom Park at State and North Main honors Maine’s involvement in the Civil War. —David M. Fitzpatrick, Special Sections

Library of Congress photo

Brig. Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Legendary Brewer Bricks About 500 million years ago, the bedrock that underlays Brewer was formed when the ancient continents of Laurasia and Avalon collided, buying ocean sediment that became rock. Then, about 40,000 years ago, a mile-thick receding glacier that covered much of the state carved out the landscape. The bedrock was exposed, and so was clay of a quality unlike anywhere else — not even across the river in Bangor. That clay was ideal for brick-making, and Brewer bricks became famous. Before 1850, three Brewer businesses made bricks: Ivory and Elbridge Harlow; Edward and Robert Holyoke; and Nathanuel Swett. The Harlow business, with 600,000 bricks per year, was the largest.

Photo courtesy of Richard Shaw

Harrison N. Brooks, John Elmer Littlefield, and Dr. George Tibbetts bought the 35-acre Hugh O’Brien brickyard at the end of Maple Street in 1906 and launched the Brooks Brick Yard. Note the two-wheeled Brewer Brick Cart at the left, which made moving bricks much easier.

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Over the next half-century, explosive urban growth along the East Coast saw Brewer producing 12 million bricks annually at 12-15 brickyards. There were 18-19 brickmakers at its peak before bricks ebbed in popularity. By 1930 just

one was left. One brickmaker, Hellier, was established in 1825 and made bricks up until World War I, when the war effort which demanded up to 90 percent of Brewer’s bricks, mostly for airports. According to an article in the Feb. 12, 1859 edition of Scientific American, Brewer resident Frank O. Farrington patented a machine for edging and turning bricks, certainly the result of the sheer volume of bricks the town was turning out. It’s said that Brewer’s bricks built a lot of Boston, particularly following the great fire of 1872 in Boston. Reportedly, most of Boston’s Back Bay and South End are built of Brewer brick. One latecomer to brickmaking remains today. Getchell Bros., long known for ice harvesting on the Penobscot, launched a brickyard in 1906. With electric power and state-of-the-art brick machines, the company produced 50,000 bricks per production day, averaging 3 million per year. —David M. Fitzpatrick, Special Sections


BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Photo courtesy of Richard Shaw

After Roswell in 1947, people began seeing UFOs everywhere. In 1966, after many such sightings in Maine, Mayor Barrington “Barry” Ivers (at right in the photo) erected this billboard to have a little fun and attract new businesses to Brewer. No aliens set up shop in Brewer, but in the 56 years since, Brewer’s business community has grown tremendously.


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BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTION • BANGORDAILYNEWS.COM • February 28, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: BREWER

Day in the Life of Brewer  

Learn about what makes Brewer, Maine unique.