Sibley Mill cleanup to begin later this year

The first phase of a cleanup plan to prepare the vacant Sibley Mill for redevelopment will start later this year.


"Our intent is to get it cleaned up environmentally," said Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority, which purchased the historic landmark last year from Avondale Mills.

The contractor, American Environmental and Construction Services, will be paid $180,212 for projects that include removal of pesticide residue in baseboards, caustic tanks and lines, mercury from old gauges and other materials left behind from a century of textile operations.

"Right now, the economy is not good, and we don't have any interested parties, but in this down time we are trying to get it more developer-ready for when things turn around," Sherrouse said.

The authority applied last October for a $200,000 matching grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfield Cleanup Program, but was not chosen for this fiscal year.

After financing the initial phase on its own, the authority will reapply for those grants if they remain available. Future cleanup phases would involve removal of contaminated soil and paint.

The pending work, which includes items suggested by Georgia's Environmental Protection Division, is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The authority's $800,000 purchase included -- in addition to the 518,000-square-foot mill -- the site's turbines and its electricity.

The water-powered generators typically earn $1,200 to $1,300 per day through power sales, which could help the authority maintain the site and provide matching funds for future grants.

Future plans include marketing the site for uses that might include residential, professional and commercial uses. The site is a few blocks from an already redeveloped textile site -- Enterprise Mill -- which also houses the canal authority's offices and interpretive center.

In 2001, the canal authority purchased Sibley's next-door neighbor, King Mill, for $250,000.

The authority then leased the building to a new operator, Ohio-based Standard Textile, which has kept it open as an active manufacturer and employer.

All those sites lie within the Augusta Canal National heritage Area.

Sibley Mill history
  • Sibley Mill's namesake, Josiah Sibley, was an Augusta cotton broker whose son William was a partner in the venture. In 1870, they traveled to New York to recruit investors for their milling company.
  • The Sibleys bought 550,000 bricks that remained after the demolition of the Confederate Powderworks, which was erected there in the Civil War, for $5 per thousand. The Powderworks Monument is a preserved remnant.
  • William Sibley's daughter, Pearl Sibley, laid the cornerstone during a ceremony Oct. 13, 1880. She also laid the last brick Jan. 27, 1882.
  • Construction cost $788,452.
  • Sibley Mill opened in 1882 with 536 looms and expanded to 880 looms by 1885.
  • Sibley built mill-owned stores, churches and schools. The last seven mill-owned homes were sold in 1969, and the mill closed in 2006.