Stef Keenan of Keenan Auction Co. inside the Continental Mill in Lewiston, which is going up for auction May 21. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

LEWISTON — It could be an estimated 250 to 500 housing units. It could be retail. It could be a hotel or offices.

The 560,000-square-foot Continental Mill is big enough to be all of the above.

Now, to find the buyer willing to take it on.

The first floor of the Continental Mill in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

Interested developers got a look Monday morning at the giant, empty, 160-year-old mill.

“We take them to the worst parts of the building, so they understand (the work ahead),” said Stef Kennan, real estate division manager at Keenan Auction Co. “There’s a market that really likes that brick and old, high-ceiling, post-and-beam-type space. It’s beautiful for that type of development.”

The city has assessed the building complex and its 7 acres at $1.3 million. It is going up for auction May 21, with an undisclosed reserve price.

Originally built in 1858 as the Porter Mill, it was renamed and expanded in 1866 after being bought by the Continental Co., according to an application with the National Register of Historic Places.

By 1895, the Continental Co. employed 1,200 people at the cotton mill.

The main structure of the mill forms a square with two interior courtyards. A handful of other buildings surround it.

In more recent decades, the property has been home to Commonwealth Shoe, then-Falcon Shoe (now Globe Footwear), Malvee Stitching Corp., Acorn shoes, Pantheon Guitars and a competitive cheerleading center.

It has been vacant about 18 months.

Keenan said the mill has been in the same family since about the 1970s, and is now owned by a daughter who is motivated to sell.

The property has been on the market with Malone Commercial Brokers for $1.5 million. The auction is a joint venture between Keenan Auction and Malone.

“They’ve got it stabilized, so if somebody wants to come in and do a development, if they want to lease it up, they can,” he said. “If they need it vacant, it is. She’s got it positioned to sell and let the buyer figure out what they want to do with it.”

The interior staircase at the Continental Mill in Lewiston. The spiral continues for all six floors, with breaks for a landing on each floor. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

The mill is in pretty good condition, given its age, Keenan said. Some sections of the roof have issues, leading to water damage on the upper floor. He pointed serious bidders toward several professional reports done on the structure.

Most of the mill is room after room of massive, wide open spaces with rows of columns spaced about 10 feet apart.

In one area, a wide spiral staircase runs up all six floors.

“Isn’t that pretty amazing?” Keenan said. “You couldn’t build it like that today, without spending a king’s ransom.”

He sees its size, location, acreage, 650 feet of Androscoggin River frontage and the properties’ inclusion in the city’s long-term vision for downtown, the Riverfront Island Master Plan, as selling points.

Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development, was there Monday getting another tour of the property. He said he could see a potential buyer taking redevelopment on in stages.

“It’s time for new ownership,” Jeffers said. “It’s very well situated and it’s on the river.”

Interested parties cannot register to bid until the morning of May 21.

“We’ve got other showings coming up,” Keenan said, “so we’re getting interest.”

The Continental Mill along the Androscoggin River in Lewiston.


Comments are not available on this story.