Lewiston’s Historic Cowan Mill; destroyed by fire

<a href=”http://www.sunjournal.com/node/35619/” target=”new”>History burns in Lewiston</a>
A massive fire destroys a landmark mill. Investigators are searching for three suspects.

Historic Cowan Mill Burns In Lewiston – 7/16/09 9:30am MPBN News

Reward Offered In Lewiston Mill Arson WCSH-TV

Lewiston fire jeopardizes Island Point project Mainebiz Daily

SunJournal.comMPBN News

Mill fire declared arson

LSJ- The State Fire Marshal’s Office has concluded that the fire at the Cowan Mill Wednesday afternoon was arson.
In a press release, the state posted a $5000 reward on this afternoon for information leading to the successful arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for seeting the fire.
Anyone with information that can aid investigators is asked to call the Lewiston Police department at 784-6421or the Fire Marshal’s arson hotline at 1-888-870-6162.

Fire doesn’t stop hopes of hotel

LSJ–Nicole Esposito of Espo’s in Lewiston points to the awnings of the restaurant that were damaged by the embers from the Cowan Mill fire. Esposito said they had to evacuate the restaurant when the fire broke out on Wednesday but on Thursday it was back in business.

Investigators must use video to probe Cowan Mill fire cause

LSJ–Fire investigator look over the remains of the Cowan Mill fire on Thursday.

Maine DEP: Most hazardous materials previously removed from mill

LSJ–State officials said Thursday they believe the most hazardous materials, including asbestos, had already been removed from the Cowan Mill prior to the blaze that destroyed the building Wednesday. Concerns were minimal that people in Lewiston or nearby would sustain any lasting health concerns from the heavy smoke that hung in the air, a state official said.

Lewiston considers Cowan Mill condemnation, demolition

LSJ–City officials were moving Thursday to condemn the remains of the fire-ravaged Cowan Mill with an aim toward demolishing the remaining brick walls next week.
“It’s just not a safe structure right now,” said Phil Nadeau, acting city administrator. “We need to move quickly, we know that. How quickly? We can’t say right now.”

The day after the Cowan Mill fire: Live Updates

LSJ–A Lewiston fire fighter sprays water into the remains of the Cowan Mill on Thursday morning. There was some concern that if the walls surrounding the smokestack in the photo collapsed the entire smokestack could come down. Crews have been on the scene since a little before 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Fire engulfs historic textile mill in Maine

KIVI-TV – Police Lt. Mark Cornelio says the vacant Cowan Mill was engulfed soon after the fire was reported Wednesday afternoon, with flames licking through its roof.

Loss of Historic Mill Leaves New Questions About Site’s Future

MPBN News – Lewiston has lost part of its historic riverfront skyline. All that remains of the Cowan Mill after a massive fire Wednesday is part of the local landmark’s

Investigators: Maine mill fire was set

NECN – – Investigators say a fire that swept through a historic textile mill in Maine’s second-largest city was a case of arson.

Bits and pieces of the Cowan/Aurora Mill history:

(Just a few bits of old data. There’s lots more, but I’ll leave it to the locals to present it.)

Libbey and Cowan mills timeline

SunJournal.com – 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

The historic Cowan mill occupied the spot nearly where the first sawmill in Lewiston was erected in 1770, but was destroyed by fire in 1785. That original sawmill was replaced with another and, that one also burned down.

It was interesting to note that the 1862 book Water Power of Maine listed the Cowan operation as simply follows;

D. Cowan & Co., manufacturers of woolen goods, also dyeing and bleaching woolen and cotton yarns, employing 27 females, 25 males.

The 1888 “Blue Book” directory of textile manufacturers listed the operation as;

Cowan Woolen Co. (W.) Fred. Olfene, Supt. Cassimeres and Ladies’ Dress Goods. 8 Sets Cards. 34 Looms. D. H. 2 Boilers. 2 W W.

This is the text from the Acts and Resolves of the Maine State Legislature approving the incorporation of the Cowan mill as a business entity as the Aurora Mills;

Chapter 376

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in Legislature assembled, as follows:

Sect. 1. David Cowan, George F. Peirce and Augustus Callahan, their associates, successors and assigns, are constituted and made a body politic and corporate by the name of the Aurora Mills, with all the powers and privileges and subject to all the duties and liabilities provided by the laws of this state concerning manufacturing corporations.

Sect. 2. Said corporation is authorized to manufacture wool, in the city of Lewiston, to purchase and hold real estate and personal not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars in value, to build and erect such buildings and machinery as their convenience may require, and make all necessary rules and regulations for the prosecution of the same, consistent with the laws of the state.

Sect. 3. David Cowan is hereby authorized to call the first meeting of these corporators by giving to each of the others a First meeting, written notice of the same seven days before such meeting.

Sect. 4. This act shall take effect when approved.

Approved February 26, 1870.

The 1873 edition of The Wealth and Industry of Maine says;

Aurora Mills,* cap., $35,000; water pow., 50 h. ; mac. emp., 3 sets cards ; production, meltons, fancy cassimeres, repellante ; val., $124,000 ; m. emp., 25 ; f. emp., 30 ; wages during the year, $24,000 ; 12 mos. in operation.

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