After 128 years, the rumble of looms at the Baron Woolen Mills here may be permanently replaced by silence soon.
Owner Bob Sadler has three to six weeks to use up his remaining wool to fill orders for a Mormon Battalion commemorative blanket. Meantime, if no buyer steps up, the historic mill will close down."Four people have expressed interest in taking over," he said. "At least there's a glimmer of hope."
But none have come up with the $500,000 it would take to replace the operation's outdated looms with more efficient equipment.
The Brigham City mill has known trouble before. When Sadler bought the mill in 1993, it had been closed for more than a year after a bankruptcy under its previous owner, Sherwood Herschi.
"The banks have actually been quite reasonable and cooperative with us," he said. "We were basically undercapitalized from the start."
If the mill can't be saved, the building's future becomes the next issue. Parts of it date from the mill's founding in 1870 as part of Brigham City's early cooperative economy, said Larry Douglas, director of the Brigham City Museum Gallery.
"The reuse of the building would be something we'd be interested in if a developer could find a creative use for it," said Paul Larsen, the Brigham City planner.
Sadler said some would-be buyers expressed interest in turning the building into a heritage village with high-end office space.
But everyone concerned would rather see the mill survive.
"It's been one of those traditional heritage businesses that Brigham City has been proud of," Douglas said. "I hope that, somehow, Bob Sadler can find someone who can operate with a profit margin in the future."
The newest piece of equipment dates to 1948, while the looms were made in the 1920s.
Sadler said the looms are functional, but they consume a lot of time to operate and repair.
"You can have problems diagnosing even if you've been a loom operator your whole life," Sadler said.