In many Georgia towns, small and large, you will find nondescript industrial buildings which were once part of Georgia’s vibrant textile industry. Although some of these structures may be in use today producing textile products or in an adaptive use such as apartment housing, many sit dormant or unused. The little that is known about the post World War II textile industry focuses on the decline of this industry. This decline was not precipitous and immediate, but slow and gradual. As a result of this drawn out decline, construction and alternations continued to occur within the textile industry, and many of these structures or changes remain in Georgia today.
An example of post war expansion in Georgia is seen fifty miles to the west of Atlanta in the small town of Bremen. Although Bremen does not look like an economic powerhouse, Bremen in the 1950s and 1960s was known as the “Clothing Capital of the South” due to an incredible concentration of apparel makers, in and around the town. One structure, just to the east of downtown Bremen, displays some key points (and questions) which this project will address. The structure (shown above) was constructed by Hubbard Pants Company in the mid 1960s, with an official dedication occurring in December of 1965. Hubbard built this International style structure to keep up with an increasing demand for the pants and slacks that it produced. The structure was initially built as a stock room and warehouse. Some limited production did initially occur in this structure, such as cutting and waistband manufacture, but after Hubbard was bought out in the early 1990s, most of the companies’ production moved from another building to this three story structure. The production process began on the top floor and proceeded downward via chutes. The building would not get air conditioning until the 1990s, and was vacated after Hubbard went out of business in 2002. This structure raises many important questions. Is this post World War II industrial textile structure like others in Georgia? Is this structure different because it produced apparel, as opposed to working with cotton or hosiery? How do post WWII additions compare to buildings constructed from the ground up? These are a few questions that will hopefully be answered by looking at and studying the Hubbard buildings and others like it.
My next blog posting will discuss the international context of Georgia’s textile industry
Steven Eubanks is a graduate student at West Georgia University and recipient of the 2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship. The Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship provides financial assistance for projects that acquaint undergraduate and graduate students, and young professionals with preservation programs and practices.