Not baaahd: Revived Faribault Woolen Mill celebrating 150 years


The closing of the Faribault Woolen Mill in 2009 came as a shock to town on the Cannon River.

But from today's perspective it looks like only a hiatus for a business that's back on all fours and celebrating its 150th anniversary Saturday, beginning with a Running of the Sheep event.

It's been quite a ride for the company that started when the Civil War was ending. A century later it was in its heyday – making the majority of the blankets sold in the U.S., according to a timeline on its webpage.

It was the fifth-generation owner of the plant, Tom Klemer, who made the difficult decision to close it in '09.

Once it was shuttered, it became clear that the mill had an important place in Faribault's heart, as well as its wallet.

" target="_blank">The Star Tribune describes how 42-year employee Dennis Melchert not only gave tours of the plant to potential buyers, but also rigged up a line of funnels and drains to prevent water damage from a leaky roof, chased away pigeons and people who were staying there, and even ran the machinery occasionally to keep it from seizing up.

It was Twin Cities attorney Paul Mooty and his cousin Chuck who purchased the plant and the Faribault Woolen Mill name in 2011 and spent millions on upgrades.

Hence the reference on the company's website to its "new" mill that was built in 1890.

Faribault's mill is one of the few in the country that does all of the processing – from raw wool to finished product – under one roof.

Its new anniversary line includes blankets, throws, scarves and pillows, all named after Minnesota towns and landmarks, Minnesota Monthly says.

The reopening of the mill in 2011 was a bright day in Faribault, which is still home to Tom Klemer. He tells the Star Tribune he's delighted to see the business his great-great-grandfather started is thriving again.

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