Maine Medical Center
Historical hospital photo

MaineHealth Maine Medical Center History

Historical Timeline & Milestones

Since we admitted our first patients in 1874, MaineHealth Maine Medical Center has continuously evolved to meet the needs of the communities we serve. We are dedicated to caring for our communities, educating tomorrow's caregivers, and researching new ways to provide care in service.  

We are the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 929 beds and employing about 9,000 people. Set among three hospitals in Biddeford, Portland and Sanford, our care team serves the southern Maine region with an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including the state’s only medical school, through a partnership with Tufts University School of Medicine, and a world-class biomedical research center, the MaineHealth Institute for Research.

Every evolution of our facilities, technology, and clinical procedures is rooted in our mission and vision, propelling Maine Medical Center to provide the safe, high-quality patient care we're known for throughout northern New England. The information on this page, although just a snapshot, can help you understand how health care and Maine Medical Center have evolved over time.

In 2024, Maine Medical Center combined with Southern Maine Health Care to create MaineHealth Maine Medical Center, a multi-campus medical center with three primary locations in Biddeford, Portland and Sanford. 

In February 1868, the State of Maine passes “An Act to incorporate the Maine General Hospital.” Officers are elected, and the process of building a hospital on Bramhall’s Hill begins. Renowned architect Francis Fassett is selected to design the new Maine General Hospital. His original concept includes four pavilions around a central administration building. When the first patient is admitted on November 9, 1874, only the East Pavilion and two outbuildings are complete. Two years later, the Central Building is added. After additional fundraising, the West pavilion and the Superintendent’s house are finished in 1892. The Italian Gothic design is brought into balance with the symmetry of several towers on the slate roof. Maine General Hospital is now an architectural landmark in Portland, as well as the new provider of the most up-to-date medical care available for the citizens of Maine. 

From the hospital’s pavilions, patients have elevated views of the mountains, the sea, or the city. Most of the nursing care is given by students of the Maine General Hospital Training School for Nurses, which graduates its first class in 1887. Electricity replaces kerosene in 1892, though surgeons prefer using natural light whenever possible. In the new surgical amphitheater, nursing and medical students observe procedures and work alongside the most skilled practitioners in the state. Maine General Hospital becomes the clinical facility for the Portland School for Medical Instruction and the medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College. This reflects the vision of the 1867 Committee on the State General Hospital for MGH to be a school of “ . . . observation and instruction furnishing . . . the best means for proficiency and skill in the different departments of medicine and surgery.” 

Doctors travel by horse and carriage as they visit hospitals and private homes in the early 1900s. In addition to attending patients in their offices, physicians often have privileges at facilities such as The Children’s Hospital, Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary, and St. Barnabas Hospital, as well as Maine General Hospital. From more widespread use of the x-ray to the medical advances made during the horrific combat of World War I, this is a time of significant improvement in diagnosis and treatment. New surgical procedures are developed, and physicians begin to specialize in areas such as orthopedics, obstetrics, and pathology. Medicine at Maine General Hospital moves from the “horse and buggy” days into an era of rapid clinical and technological progress.

In 1906, Webber Hospital was incorporated and opened on Pool Road in Biddeford. Moses Webber, who was associated with the Laconia and Pepperell Mills, left a large sum of money to establish a hospital in Biddeford. The early Webber Hospital was in the renovated Freeman House at 143 Pool Road. The hospital had a training program for nurses and was the first Allopathic hospital (which means staff physicians held the traditional medical degree, or MD). In 1911, Webber care team members moved to a new, larger Webber Hospital on Elm Street.

The establishment of Webber Hospital represents the beginning of our history in Biddeford.  

The 1920s and 1930s are a time for considerable expansion at Maine General Hospital. New medical and surgical services are offered for X-ray, cardiology, and cancer, while a clinic is opened on India Street to care for patients. The hospital is rapidly outgrowing the original facility. A third pavilion is added in 1931 to provide private patient rooms and the latest advances in medical technology and treatment. The rest of the hospital is renovated to create space for special clinics and the various clinical disciplines. There are additional operating rooms and a new emergency department located directly behind the original hospital building. Among the new equipment are adjustable beds and an “iron lung” for the treatment of polio.

In August of 1928, Henrietta D. Goodall Hospital in Sanford opened its doors. Built to exacting standards with the very best materials, the hospital was considered one of the most advanced health care facilities in Maine. The familiar copper-domed cupola and classic brick buildings sitting on the rise high above Mousam River Valley came to symbolize outstanding health care throughout the 20th century. 

Established by industrialist George B. Goodall, a principal owner of Sanford Mills and the Goodall Worsted Company, in memory of his wife, Henrietta, the hospital was built for about $500,000, a substantial sum at that time. Their daughter, Marion, who married William Marland in 1903, helped her father plan the hospital, which opened as a 55-bed facility. William took over the leadership of the Goodall enterprises as President of the Sanford Mills after George Goodall died. 

The establishment of Goodall Hospital represents the beginning of our history in Sanford.  

The outbreak of World War II is followed by the departure of many of our nurses and physicians as officers in the 67th General Hospital Unit. During the War, the hospital suffers shortages in resources and personnel, resulting in a dramatic increase in the need for the services of volunteers. The visiting Board of the Children’s Hospital, founded in 1910, continues fundraising activities at Maine General Hospital after the young patients are moved here in 1948. Years later, members help support the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital through sales from The Flower Box. In 1951, Maine General Hospital, the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Children’s Hospital merge to become Maine Medical Center.

The need for additional space requires several construction projects as we enter our second century of service. Nuclear medicine is available at Maine Medical Center with the completion of the Cobalt Unit in 1963. Eleven years later, the joint efforts of several hospitals, banks, and other organizations result in the opening of the Southern Maine Radiation Therapy Institute. Advances in cardiology lead to the first implantation of a miniature pacemaker here in 1963, the development of a cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) in 1967, and coronary bypass surgery in 1972. Ten years after the purchase of its first artificial kidney, Maine’s first kidney transplant is performed at Maine Medical Center. Home dialysis treatment is a possible option for some patients.

The Marland Memorial Wing opened at Goodall Hospital in 1967, increasing the size of the hospital to 100 beds. 

In March of 1977, Webber Hospital begins construction on their new facility in Biddeford. Nearly two years later in February of 1979, Webber Hospital officially moves from its Elm Street location to the new facility at One Medical Center Drive. 

Completion of the L.L. Bean Building in 1985 provides expansion space for the Hatch Pavilion, a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, operating suites, and specialty departments. The Gibson pavilion for cancer patients and the inpatient unit of The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital are added to the Bean Building in 1998. In 1991, the Maine Medical Center Research Institute is established to support the bench research that has been conducted at Maine Medical Center for decades. Ten years later, a new MMCRI facility is built on the Scarborough campus, creating a contemporary environment for bench, outcomes, and translational research. During the 1980s and 1990s, Maine Medical Center establishes associations with hospitals from Sanford to Farmington, and a merger between the medical center and Brighton Medical Center is completed. Our parent organization, the Maine Medical Center Foundation, evolves and becomes MaineHealth, the state’s largest integrated health system. Special centers and clinics open around Greater Portland, allowing Maine Medical Center to offer expanded services in more convenient settings.

In Biddeford, Webber Hospital changes its name to Southern Maine Medical Center on October 1, 1985. In Sanford, the Woodbury Building is dedicated in 1986, named for longtime Goodall nurse Dorothy “Dot” Woodbury, RN. 

We have been named one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report and are consistently listed among the top 100 cardiovascular hospitals. Advances at Maine Medical Center include the 1,000th kidney transplant in Maine, the first pancreas transplant in Maine, widespread use of robotic surgery, and adoption of a safe patient and family centered care culture.  

Construction of Maine Medical Center’s sister hospital for psychiatric care, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, is followed by the opening of Scarborough Surgery Center.  

In 2009, Southern Maine Medical Center officially becomes a member of the MaineHealth system, and on January 1, 2014, Southern Maine Medical Center officially combines with Henrietta Goodall Hospital to become Southern Maine Health Care.  

In Portland, construction for the vertical expansion on top of the medical center’s lower Bean Building near the Emergency Department began in February 2014. Surgery 2 opened in 2015, including five new state-of-the-art operating rooms, built to better meet the demand for routine and complex procedures. The $40 million investment in a 41,361 sq. ft. expansion also included 20 new spaces for surgery prep and recovery.

In 2020, the expansion of Maine Medical Center’s Emergency Department into the new Coulombe Family Tower helps meet the increasing needs of the community and the state. Maine Medical Center’s Trauma Center is the busiest in Maine, serving as a gateway to the most advanced tertiary care in the state.

Planning for a $512 million expansion on our Portland campus began in 2017. The project is designed to modernize the medical center’s facilities and ensure its ability to care for Maine’s sickest patients. Upon completion in 2024, the project increased the number of single rooms available to patients, replaced outdated surgical and treatment areas with ones that conform to current standards and invested $50 million in a new medical office building in Scarborough. Learn more about our modernization project.

In 2022, the Maine Medical Center Research Institute is re-named the MaineHealth Institute for Research.

In 2024, Southern Maine Health Care became part of Maine Medical Center. The integration resulted in a new name: MaineHealth Maine Medical Center. Our care team, mission, vision, and values remain the same, but as of June 1, 2024, our primary locations are identified as:

  • MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland 
  • MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Biddeford
  • MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Sanford