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.


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