Jan. 17, 2002: Fire severely damages buildings on Main Street in Lincoln. Three days later, a second fire breaks out. The two blazes combined wipe out a quarter of the Penobscot County town’s business district, including the three-story Lake Mall, and displace 10 businesses.

Firefighters ultimately contain both fires and save other downtown businesses.

The town had experienced a similarly destructive fire once before, in 1887.

The 2002 fires are the worst disaster to hit the town since the Eastern Fine Paper and Pulp Division of Standard Packaging Corp. closed in 1968, with a loss of hundreds of jobs. While that mill remained closed through the summer, the town scrambled to raise money from the sale of 20-year bonds to meet the demands of a new owner, Premoid Corp., and the mill resumed operations in August 1968.

An apartment complex for the elderly now stands on the site where the mall burned in 2002, and a new art gallery and photography studio has been built across the street.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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