Libbey Mill timeline:

1845: Built by Captain Daniel Holland, a local contractor, and incorporated as the Lewiston Falls Cotton Mill. It is generally called the Lincoln Mill.

1863: Mill’s bell tower incorporated in city seal.

1893: Mill purchased by Winfield Scott Libbey Sr. with financial backing from Harry Dingley.

1929: New storehouse built on Lincoln Street.

1941: Company approves a 10 percent raise for workers; city and company reach agreement on tax dispute.

1945: C.I.O. (Congress of Industrial Organizations) union strike closes six textile mills, but W.S. Libbey continued operating.

1947: Mill pays $16,415 in city real estate taxes.

1948: Lewiston Finance Board recommends city sue Libbey owners for unpaid taxes.

1953: End of the Korean conflict has a negative impact on woolen mills, including Libbey.

1959: 100-year-old Walker building in Libbey complex razed near Main and Mill streets.

1963: Libbey adds a new line of acrylic blankets

1964: Mill sustains extensive water damage from fire started when naphtha was spilled and dropped on machinery.

1972: Explosion, fire rips through building; two die, 10 injured.

1975: Business recovers, employees get wage hike.

1981: Dozens of workers laid off.

1984: Mill honored as Exporter of the Year.

1987: Libbey family sells mill to Armand J. Favreau, former chief financial officer of company.

1991: Owners move textile operations to South Carolina; building is abandoned.

1992-1998: City Council votes to waive foreclosure on mill complex to avoid having unwanted property.

1996: Michael Hamlin acquires mill at auction for $25,000. Later that year, Kennebec Superior Court orders him to turn over the mill to Norman and Shirley Burdzel of Augusta in compensation for Hamlin’s failure to pay them from a previous court case. But Hamlin had already sold the mill to a friend, Gretchen Zeh, who conveyed the property to Miracle of Living Waters, a nondenominational ministry headed by Rita Jean.

1997: The Burdzels, believing they owned the building, sold it to Walter Moody for $135,000. Moody began demolishing the building for salvage material. He also razed two of the 13 mill complex buildings. Later that year, city officials become concerned about debris at the site and use a $250,000 tax lien to prevent Moody from removing any more material from the complex.

1999: Summer: Decades’ worth of documents are unearthed from Libbey Mill and stored at Lewiston Armory for archiving.

September: Someone spreads oil throughout building in what officials investigated as a possible arson attempt.

October: Massive fire ravages the mill, destroying the section that runs parallel to Main Street, the piece with the cupola’s tower and the giant “W.S. Libbey” sign.

2000: The historic cupola, which is featured on the city’s seal, is removed and placed in storage.

2001: Much of the Libbey Mill is torn down.

2005: Developer Travis Soule and the city sign agreement to jointly develop the spit of land that juts into the Androscoggin River, the remnants of the Libbey Mill, the Cowan Mill, the former CMP building and a substation. The multi-million dollar Island Point project would convert the two mill buildings into upscale condominiums, bring a mix of retail and office space to the other buildings and site a high-end hotel.

2007: The joint development agreement with the city expires when Soule cannot
secure financing. Also that year, the rest of the W.S. Libbey Mill is torn down.

2008: Councilors unanimously approve an agreement with Winston Hospitality Group to take over work on the Island Point project. Later that year, Lincoln Jeffers, development director for Lewiston, says the Island Point project is still viable but has been scaled back.

Cowan Mill timeline:

1850: The Cowan Mill, named after former Lewiston Mayor David Cowan, is built on the site of Lewiston’s very first cotton mill, which burned down in March of that year. It is first named the Grist Mill, and the majority of it is used for grinding corn and flour. After about 15 years, David Cowan’s company buys the building and uses it to manufacture cotton and wool.

1864: Cowan Mill houses three sets of machinery and 12 looms.

1888: The mill expands to include eight sets of machinery and 12 looms. It employed 180 people, including 60 women. They produced 300,000 yards of wool and cotton for a total monthly payroll of $3,700.

1938: Blast endangers workers.

1949: The Cowan Mill is taken over by the Cotwool Manufacturing Corp. of Maine in a deal that also gives it the Farnsworth Mill in Lisbon. The deal is worth $375,000.

1956: Mill curtails production.

1960: Workers are laid off due to lack of orders.

1967: Mill is sold to Roy’s Diversified Industries, Inc.

1985: Bradley C. McCurtain of Boston Bay Capital Inc. in Portland tells city councilors that he plans to redevelop the mill and call it the Androscoggin Falls Plaza.

1999: A month after fire guts the nearby Libbey Mill, city councilors consider demolishing both the Libbey and Cowan mills. Ultimately, the Libbey Mill is razed but the Cowan Mill is tapped for redevelopment.

2005: Developer Travis Soule and the city sign agreement to jointly develop the spit of land that juts into the Androscoggin River, the remnants of the Libbey Mill, the Cowan Mill, the former CMP building and a substation. The multi-million dollar Island Point project would convert the two mill buildings into upscale condominiums, bring a mix of retail and office space to the other buildings and site a high-end hotel.

2007: The joint development agreement with the city expires when Soule cannot
secure financing. Also that year, the rest of the W.S. Libbey Mill is torn down.

2008: Councilors unanimously approve an agreement with Winston
Hospitality Group to take over work on the Island Point project. Later
that year, Lincoln Jeffers, development director for Lewiston, says the
Island Point project is still viable but has been scaled back. Also that year, Barry Rodrigue, an assistant professor of archaeology and geography at University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College, urges caution in redeveloping the site, saying the Cowen Mill was built over a 1700’s gristmill. He said the site — which is listed with the National Register of Historic Places — should be further researched.

2009, June: The state’s highest court upholds much of a lower court
ruling requiring the owner of the vacant Cowan Mill to pay substantial
architectural fees owed to Platz Associates of Auburn. Cowan Mill owner
Martin Finley, of Wales, had appealed a Lewiston District Court ruling
that he owed $150,000 in fees to Platz and had possession of architectural drawings that he had
not paid for.


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