Old brick mill buildings were once as much a part of New Bedford as whaling ships, cobblestones and the Underground Railroad.

When I was growing up here, it seemed there were mills all over the city. Some mills produced textiles. Others churned out tires, shoes, seafood products and even bombs for the Vietnam War.

Some old mills had department stores on the ground floor, including Mars Bargainland, Cove Discount and Atlantic Thrift.

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The Wamsutta Mills were perhaps some of the better-known mill buildings with a rich history connected to the textile era. Those mills swallowed up my mother and women from throughout New Bedford on weekdays when garment and pajama manufacturing primed the local economy.

The Wamsutta Mills are now luxury apartments.

New Bedford's Market Basket Replaced The Fairhaven Mills Complex
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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Another set of mills I recall from my youth was the Fairhaven Mills, which occupied roughly the same footprint as the Market Basket Complex along the Acushnet River between Sawyer and Coggeshall Streets.

The Fairhaven Mills, located at 81-119 Coggeshall Street, opened in 1899.

Before the mill complex was demolished, ArtInRuins.com described the site as "a roughly 15-acre square of private and public properties dotted with modern businesses and historic mills in varying states of decrepitude and occupancy."

New Bedford's Market Basket Replaced The Fairhaven Mills Complex
Jim Phillips/Townsquare Media
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The site says the mills were "built over time during the first 20 years of the 20th century as the Columbia Spinning Mills and the New England Cotton Company and were later named the Fairhaven Mills by 1917."

ArtInRuins.com has discovered a 1922 map showing five "main brick buildings at this site as well as several smaller structures." The site says the map labels these buildings as the Pemaquid Mills.

A fire in 2003 severely damaged several of the remaining mill buildings. The last of the mills came down in 2009.

The SouthCoast's first Market Basket store opened at the location in the fall of 2010.

Fairhaven Mills photo: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 Deed (indicate if changes were made here) 

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