Monday, February 17, 2020

Kezar Falls Mills

In the early days of our towns, there was a saw mill or grist mill on nearly every pond outlet or stream.  These small mills supported the early settlers as they developed the land and established villages and towns.  When the Kezar Falls Woolen Mill was established on the Ossipee River, Kezar Falls Village grew around it and nearly everyone knows how important it was to the surrounding area.  There was also a lumber mill on the Ossipee River that played a role in our community.



The Sokokis Lumber Company was founded in 1908 by Harvey Granville, Frank Fenderson and J. Merrill Lord.  It was located on the Parsonsfield side of the Ossipee River just outside of the village of Kezar Falls.  This was a small mill for the times when Maine was coming to be dominated by large timber companies, but one that was ready to compete with these giants.  It ran for many years and employed many local residents.  It became idle in 1935 and was taken over by the bank.
Chaffee Brothers purchased the mill in 1939.  At that time the saw mill was running and had on hand 600,000 feet of good box lumber. Chaffee Brothers Company owned a large box factory located in Oxford, Massachusetts and were looking to expand.  They made the needed repairs and put it in operation under supervision of Earnest Edwards who had worked as Assistant Manager at the Massachusetts mill.  They renamed the mill – Oxford Box Company.  
At the same time they purchased a small lumber mill on Summer Street on the Porter side of Kezar Falls Village that had been founded by Alton Goodwin and whose residence was next door to the mill.  Presumably this was then considered an extension of the Oxford Lumber Company.  In late 1945 they also purchased the Fryeburg Box Company in Fryeburg, Maine

 During their period of ownership there were a number of events that created a great demand for lumber mills and wood products: 1938 hurricane, World War II, the building boom after the war, 1947 fires, etc. and Chaffee Brothers filled that need for wooden boxes for ammunition and other war orders, caskets, cedar chests, toy boxes for children, lap desks, boxes for shipping fish, at least one children’s wooden game and anything that was needed to build a house.

 In 1954 Chaffee Brothers sold their interest in the Kezar Falls mills and sold the Fryeburg Box Shop in1955. 

No documentation has yet been found of continued operation of the Kezar Falls mills but it appears that each were used/ran sporadically – the mill on the Ossipee River until the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.    This mill eventually became the property of the Town of Parsonsfield and burned July 10, 1999.  When the Summer Street property was sold, the house lot was split off from the mill lot.  The house was sold about 1955/56.  The mill building was used as a hardware store for a time but was not operating in 1972 when it was purchased and converted into a summer residence.


Saturday, February 1, 2020


Ruth (Allard) Paul generously sent these snapshots of a restaurant that was once located in Kezar Falls Village – first on Bridge Street, Porter and later on Federal Road, Parsonsfield. 

This was the Ideal Restaurant in 1936 in the little building to the left of the former Kezar Falls Market (aka. Goodwin’s Market). 
          The #21 Bridge Street location was a very old building and on the 1880 map is identified as Jordan Stacy’s house.  At one time it was a store run by the Johnsons. In 1936 it was the Ideal Restaurant run by Ruth (Sayles) Doherty. It later became the residence of Fred and Elsie Allard and later Oscar and Jean Thompkins.  In 2006 it was owned by Bette and Robert Williams and has since been sold again.

By 1938 Ruth Doherty had moved the restaurant to the building on Federal Road between the Kezar Falls Hardware Store and Arthur Allard’s Garage (later to become the Village Variety Store).  Ruth married Arthur Allard in 1941.

Ruth Sayles Doherty Allard 

   The building was probably built in the early 1900’s and after the restaurant became the office of the Cornish - Kezar Falls Light and Power Company. It eventually became an apartment building. The building was taken down when the Village Variety Store was rebuilt and expanded in 2016.