Exploring the Life of George W. Brown: From Inventor to Real Estate …

In the late 1800s, if you were to step back in time to the area now known as Meeting House Hill, you would find it unrecognizable compared to today. However, it was during this era that George Brown, a man with a knack for invention and business, began to shape the landscape of the neighborhood.

Born in New York in 1850, George W. Brown was raised by his mother in Damariscotta, Maine, after his father, a merchant sea captain, passed away. After attending schools in Damariscotta and Newcastle, Brown started his career as a grocer in his hometown, where he married Emma Hatch in 1876.

During the 1880s, Brown’s interests shifted, leading him to the business of selling water motors. As he delved into the technology, he developed innovative ideas for new products. His inventions, including a combined water motor and mill, gained significant attention, leading to the formation of the Belknap Water Motor Company in 1888. The company’s success allowed them to expand their product line to include electric contrivances, such as the Cyclone coffee mill and a combined motor and dynamo for small offices.

With the rising popularity of his inventions, George Brown attracted the attention of prominent investors in Portland. In 1890, they formed the Belknap Motor Company, which acquired all the assets of the Belknap Water Motor Company. Brown served as the company’s president and general manager, overseeing its growth and success.

However, Brown’s entrepreneurial endeavors didn’t stop there. In 1897, he made significant investments in electric companies, securing control over the Portland Electric Light Company and other related businesses. His involvement in the power supply industry brought him further acclaim and success.

Despite his achievements in the electric industry, George Brown eventually decided to pursue a new venture: real estate. Teaming up with real estate broker Llewellyn M. Leighton, the duo formed the Suburban Realty Company in 1900. Brown took on the role of treasurer and general manager, utilizing his business acumen to attract investors and develop properties.

George W. Brown’s journey from inventor to real estate mogul showcases his versatility and keen eye for opportunity. By shaping the development of Meeting House Hill and leaving a lasting impact on Portland’s landscape, Brown’s contributions have become an integral part of the city’s history.


Q: What were some of George W. Brown’s inventions?A: George W. Brown invented various products, including the Cyclone coffee mill and a combined motor and dynamo for small offices.

Q: What was the Belknap Motor Company?A: The Belknap Motor Company was a business formed in 1890 by George W. Brown and a group of investors. It acquired the assets of the Belknap Water Motor Company and became a successful manufacturing company.

Q: What prompted George Brown’s transition into real estate?A: After experiencing success in the electric industry, George Brown decided to pursue a new career path. He partnered with a real estate broker and formed the Suburban Realty Company, dedicating his efforts to property development.

Q: What impact did George Brown have on Meeting House Hill?A: George Brown played a significant role in the development of Meeting House Hill. Through his real estate ventures, he contributed to shaping the landscape and growth of the neighborhood.

Sources:– [South Portland Historical Society](https://www.sphistory.org/)

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