OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) – It's the end of an era in Opelika as demolition begins on Pepperell Mill. News leader 9 Elizabeth White spoke with Mayor Gary Fuller who says it's a bittersweet day in Opelika.
Heavy machinery is in the process of leveling the legendary Pepperell Mill in Opelika. It is a visual reminder the textile industry is dead and long gone.
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller says "If someone said to me 7 or 8 years ago we would not have one textile job in Opelika at the end of 2011, I would have said you were crazy. But we don't have one textile job now."
News Leader 9 has learned a Kent, Alabama businessman has purchased the mill for an undisclosed amount of money and his begun demolition and recycling efforts.
"Apparently there had not been a market for someone to buy the building and try to set up manufacturing," says Fuller. "A company bought it for demolition and is finding out a way to recycles the brick and lumber and filler materials recycled during demolition."
He says while the textile industry may be gone, and now with it the actual mill, he says memories of what this building did for so many people will never go away.
"The mill had a lot of employees over the years; help feed many families and education many children. We are grateful for all that the mill has done."
It will take several years to tear down the massive buildings.
Fuller believes other commercial, retail and manufacturing opportunities await this section of Opelika, as the old makes way for the new.