MassMoments: “Prince Pasta” Deal Dies

Mass Moments reminds us that on this day July 16, 1997, a tentative deal was announced by Borden to save the famous Prince pasta plant in Lowell. Hoping that the “Spaghettiville” plant would continue to be one of the city’s largest employers, Senator Ted Kennedy acquired federal funds targeted to help Boston Macaroni – formed earlier in the year and made up of investors, former Prince managers, and the plant’s union – save the plant. In the end Borden refused to give up rights to the “Prince pasta” name and Boston Macaroni discovered that the building needed millions in repairs. By the fall, the deal was dead.

On this day…

…in 1997, the Borden company announced a tentative deal to save the Prince pasta factory in Lowell. When Borden closed the failing plant, Senator Ted Kennedy remarked that it was “a sad day in Spaghettiville.” Prince had been one of Lowell’s major employers ever since it moved there from the North End in 1912. To TV viewers, however, the company was forever associated with Boston’s “Little Italy.” Commercials showed a boy running home through the narrow North End streets, with the tag line “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day.” Employees and investors tried to buy the pasta plant. Borden was willing to sell the building but not the Prince name. The deal fell through, and Lowell was Spaghettiville no more.

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13 Responses to MassMoments: “Prince Pasta” Deal Dies

  1. John Quealey says:

    Marie as you a Kirwin turned Sweeney know this area of Sacred Heart is “the Bleachery” and not ‘Spaghettieville.”

  2. Marie says:

    You are absolutely right John – the Bleachery. But none of the newspaper stories used that term nor did MassMoments. Did they ever paint over that Spaghettiville sign on the railroad bridge? I’ll have to go tke a look. Wasn’t there a train stop called “the Bleachery” where certain Grove boys got on to travel to school in Boston?

  3. Bob Forrant says:

    For a terrific account of the passing of Prince see:

    Francine Corbin, Prince Pasta Unravels in Spaghettiville, a Master’s degree thesis at Umass Lowell. It is in the lbirary there. She did lots of interviews for this work.

  4. PaulM says:

    I second Bob’s motion on that research by Francine. She got the story down. A very important moment in Lowell’s manufacturing history.

  5. Joan H says:

    As a former resident of Moore Street – it will always be Spaghettiville to me.

  6. John Quealey says:

    Marie your Father-in-law the late Dr.Sweeney was one of the Grove Boys who would take a short cut to the Bleachery Station to get the train when He was a student at Boston College

  7. John Quealey says:

    Joan a resident of Moore St. since 1942-it will always be Bleachery to me .

  8. Joe S says:

    John’s mention of the Bleachery Station was a surprise to me, so I tried to figure out where it was. There is a pretty good historical summary in the following link:

    It notes the closed Bleachery station is about 0.9 miles south along the line to Boston, so I am guessing it is in the vicinity of Meadowcroft street. Maybe John can pin down the location?

  9. Marie says:

    Bill says it was on the east side of Gorham Street – a set of stairs went from the diner side of Gorham Street to the platform. No enclosure just a platform with a roof. I think it was the Streamliner Diner. The train came from theThorndike Street station and the first stop was the Bleachery where Joe Sweeney and Philly Mullane got on to go to BC and later Tufts Medical. (The Sweeneys moved to St. James Street in 1921 and hJoe started at BC in 1922- Tufts Medical in 1926.)

  10. John Quealey says:

    Marie the stairs to the Bleachery station were heading south on Gorham St.after going under the railroad the stairs were on the left oppisite Maple St.
    Former Mayor Bruin had an ice cream stand with Bill and Gene Geary along with the Groves own Jim Slattery dishing out the cones .
    The Trolly Pizza is now on the site of the of the ice cream stand.

  11. Marie says:

    Bill stands corrected John – you have them in the correct location further up opposite Maple Street.