In the late 1800s, the power of the Cocheco River was harnessed by waterfront mills to make textiles. From the mighty mill machinery flowed a river of cloth which was sold throughout the region and around the world. The mills generated enormous economic power as well, creating hundreds of jobs and fostering the city’s growth.
The mills thrived until the turn of the century when Southern cotton mills began providing stiff competition. Two disastrous fires at one complex, followed by the Great Depression, sealed the mills’ fate, and soon the machinery fell silent. A succession of businesses used the mills over the years, but by the 1980s, most of the buildings had declined.
In the mid 1980s, local developers began mill restoration efforts. Thanks to extensive renovations, and a community committed to preserving this piece of their history, the mills are once again flourishing. Indeed, these historic landmarks have become the symbols of a revitalized waterfront and downtown.