The Colburn House State Historic Site is centered around the house built by the Colburn family in 1765. Several historic men have stayed their over the course of history including Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr. Its design is modeled after the standard colonial Federal-style design. The house still stands in Pittston as a testimony to early settlements in the Kennebec River area of Maine.
Nearby, Colburn also built a gristmill, boat yard, brickyard, and sawmill. All of this was done in order to be able to provide new settlers with all of the materials that they needed. Without this, settling this region of Maine, would have proven much more difficult and would have potentially taken decades longer.
10 years later, Colburn met with George Washington and was a key figure in planning the Continental Armies trek through the Maine wilderness in order to capture Quebec. At the time, Quebec was a heavily fortified city, controlled by the British Army. A myth still circulates that Washington spent more than a small amount of time living in Colburn’s home, however it has been proven untrue.
Once the force was assembled, Colonel Benedict Arnold and a troupe of over 1000 soldiers started on “Arnold’s March”. This historic march started directly in the midst of the Colburn property. Along with Arnold, other famous faces including Aaron Burr, Henry Dearborn, and Daniel Morgan all were a part of the march. The army included men from Maine, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
During this time, Colburn created a team of craftsmen that built a fleet of 10 ships within two weeks. To complicate matters, Colburn and his team were not able to get access to either nails or seasoned lumber. Colburn also gave Arnold and his army food and other supplies including maps and reports from local guides that Colburn had sent up the river to scout ahead. Colburn even paid a group of men to go with the army and make any repairs that may be needed during their journey, along with financing the construction of the boats themselves.
Colburn and the Colburn House has received credit for being instrumental in helping the colonies win their freedom from British rule. Unfortunately, aside from 20 pounds that Washington paid Colburn in advance, he never received any reimbursement for his investments and expenses. In the end, because he sunk his fortune into helping finance the Arnold Expedition, Colburn was sent into financial ruin.
However, before the end of his life, Colburn had rebuilt his families wealth through hard work and wise investments. From this hard work, his family stayed in the house for over 100 years