2013-07-26 / Community

A Window on the Past

Sparhawk Mill: fond memories
By Craig Skelton
South Portland Historical Society

Gathering chestnuts from the sidewalk in front of Sparhawk Mill came to mind when I asked my cousin Frankie Marston what he remembered about his dad working there. That was in the 1950s, he says. Frankie’s sister Marlene tells me she remembers hoses crisscrossing the floor around the machinery and a very strong smell of chemicals when she visited her dad one day. She was 10 years old and says she also recalls gathering shiny chestnuts out front.

Uncle Frank worked there from 1946 until 1958 when he left to take a permanent position as a letter carrier at the post office. Marlene recalls her parents struggling with the prospect of Uncle Frank leaving Sparhawk Mill for a job at the post office. As she recalls, the pay was much better at the mill. Uncle Frank did leave the mill and over the years I came to know he was well known in South Portland as the cheerful letter carrier who would often share a joke or funny story.

Left, this rug was made by a former Sparhawk Mill worker. (Courtesy photo) Left, this rug was made by a former Sparhawk Mill worker. (Courtesy photo) The rug pictured here was made for my folks by Uncle Frank and I fondly remember it holding a place of prominence at our front door growing up. That carpet now proudly adorns my front entry.

The mill, which manufactured rugs here as well as in Yarmouth, consolidated its operations to the Yarmouth Sparhawk Mill. The city directory indicates that Percival’s Warehouse then operated from the former Sparhawk Mill building on Cottage Road until the building was torn down in 1965 to make way for Martin’s Food Market.

If you have any information about Percival’s Warehouse or would like to share a fond memory or historic photo for a possible future article about a place of interest in South Portland, please email me at craigskelton@yahoo.com or call 799-8589.

Craig Skelton is a guest columnist and member of South Portland Historical Society.

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