Dresden was first settled as Frankfort in 1752 by German and French Huguenot immigrants. A town in Lincoln County, it incorporated on June 25, 1794 from a portion of the town of Pownalborough (later Wiscasset). The Germans, brought to the area through the encouragement of General Samuel Waldo, contributed the name Dresden after the
city in their homeland. Dresden annexed land from
Alna in 1741. In 1847 it set off two islands to form the Town of Perkins, which surrendered its organization in 1918 leaving the unorganized township of Perkins. The two islands are Swan Island and Little Swan Island, now a nature preserve administered by the State of Maine.
The 1761 Pownalborough Courthouse was the first built in Maine and the only one built prior to the Revolution. Parson Jacob Bailey used the courthouse as a church.
The Pownalborough Courthouse has hosted future U.S. President John Adams, George Washington’s first Supreme Court nominee William Cushing, Robert Treat Paine and David Sewall. It was the setting for a trial noted in midwife Martha Ballard’s diary.
In 1891 an act of the Legislature was approved incorporating Bridge Academy for the ‘promotion of education, literature and science’. The Academy was endowed by members of the Bridge family for “A Free High School for the children of Dresden”. It served in that capacity for the youth of Dresden, and other ‘tuition’ students from many areas until 1966. Over 430 students earned their high school diplomas between 1892 and 1966, after which students attended Wiscasset High School. The building now houses the Bridge Academy Public Library.
The historic Kennebec Bridge between Dresden and Richmond is slated for replacement by the end of 2015.
The Earle R. Kelley Wildlife Management Area is a 500 acre park, 290 acres of which is marshland, maintained by the State Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 1.5 miles from the intersection of Route 27 and Blinn Hill Road. Dresden Bog, part of the Management Area, is a water-accessible nature preserve.