December 11, 1995

Fire Destroys Malden Mills


On this day in 1995, a massive, wind-whipped fire completely destroyed three buildings at Malden Mills in Lawrence, where the company's signature Polartec fabric was produced. Just two weeks before Christmas, thousands of workers faced unemployment and the fear that the mill's owner would take the insurance money and follow other textile companies south. The next day, company president Aaron Feuerstein announced that he would rebuild in Lawrence, and he promised to keep his employees on the payroll during the time it would take to reconstruct the plant. Venerated as "a man of his word" and "extremely compassionate," Feuerstein became a national folk hero. Sadly, the millions he spent to keep his pledges eventually cost him control of the company his family had owned for three generations.

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