Monday, October 10, 2011

Strummin' on the Porch, a Free Outdoor Concert

Friday | October 14th | 6 p.m.

Please join us for Strummin' on the Porch,
a free outdoor concert on the front lawn of Rhodes Hall. The concert will feature local Macon artists, Sterling Waite & the Cotton Avenue Hustlers. Free food and a beer tasting will be provided by The Wrecking Bar Brewpub.

Tell a friend to tell a friend to come out and enjoy an evening of fun and great music
under the stars.

This event is free and open to the public.

Would you like to join the Trust? Become a member for only $15 during this event.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Member Spotlight

In this Member Spotlight, The Trust would like to highlight Judith L. Hughes, of Peachtree City. Judy, a longtime active member of the Trust, also serves as President of The Colonial Dames of America, chapter XXIV - Atlanta which has graciously provided a grant for Georgia Trust staff members to attend the upcoming National Preservation Conference in Buffalo, as well as last year's conference in Austin. The Trust is grateful to Judy and The Colonial Dames of America XXIV Atlanta for their commitment to education. We are proud to shine a spotlight on Judy and her diligent work in historic preservation.

TGT: How did you first become involved with the Trust?

JH: My cousin told me in 2005 I should join The Georgia Trust since I loved history, preservation, and have been involved in genealogy since I was a young woman. I joined immediately. Unfortunately my cousin could not be with me for my first
Ramble, so I attended the Ramble alone in Greene County. I was hooked and have only missed one Ramble all these years.

TGT: What do you find compelling about the mission of the Trust?

JH: That the entire staff, volunteers and donors are focused on Reclaiming, Restoring or Revitalizing historic properties across our state. All of them wish to save and preserve the rapidly disappearing physical remnants of Georgia’s historic landscape. Historic preservation, like history in general, must speak to the present. As Georgians we need to know and understand our past, and historic preservation will foster that.

TGT: What committees or organizations do you serve on?

The Colonial Dames of America, Chapter XXIV-Atlanta - President

The Georgia Society, Colonial Dames of XVII Century - State Chairman.

The Georgia Society,
Daughters of the American Revolution - Volunteer Genealogist and Field Genealogist.

Fayette Starr's Mill Chapter-NSDAR – Chapter Chairman

County Master Gardener Association - Co-chairman of Hospitality, Garden Tour volunteer.
First Baptist Church of Peachtree City – Flower Committee

TGT: Are you a native of Georgia?

JH: Although born in Tennessee, I am descended from six generations of Georgians and proud to be a member of First Families of Georgia.

TGT: Hobbies?

JH: Genealogical Research, gardening, designing floral arrangements for my church, traveling to see museums and historic properties, and collecting early American cooking utensils.

eservation Tip: A tip in which anyone can play a role (large or small) in historic preservation.

JH: Anyone can join or donate to Georgia Trust. Organizations and societies that want a project that will make a difference in the field of historic preservation should be aware that the staff of Georgia Trust needs to attend The National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference from time to time, but the cost is prohibitive. Donations or a grant in aid will make this possible. The Colonial Dames of America have given a grant for two years during my administration to enable two staff members to attend the conference each year. Continuing education aids preservation tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Georgia Theatre- Congratulations!

Congratulations to the Georgia Theatre on last night's successful kick-off of their 2-week grand opening celebration!

In just over two years, the owners of the historic Georgia Theatre in Athens completely rehabilitated the theater that was gutted by a devastating fire. Their tireless hard work was aided by the support of music and Georgia Theatre fans from across the country who made donations to save the theater. To date, over $250,000 has been donated to support the building's rehabilitation.

If you're worried that you missed your chance to donate, don't be. The Georgia Trust is still accepting donations for the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund to help pay some of the costs associated with this massive rehabilitation project. Or, you could bid on this awesome guitar!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


It aint easy being green, but you can help us go greener. Over the past several months, The Georgia Trust's sustainability task force, through a partnership with
Southface, has dedicated time and resources to develop a certification program that recognize green rehabilitation projects in Georgia. We are very excited about this initiative and look forward to launching a pilot program soon.

In the meantime, you can help! We know that many aspects of preservation are inherently green, but we want to hear from the good folks out there who work hard everyday to rehabilitate and preserve Georgia's historic resources. Now is your chance to tell us a little bit more about what you do, where you do it, how you do it and what you would like to see us offer. Just follow these 3 easy steps to participate in a brief online survey:
  1. Send an email to Kate at with 'Go Greener Survey' as the subject
  2. Tell Kate who you are and if you are a architect, developer, preservation professional....
  3. Click on the survey link when Kate emails you back
We greatly appreciate your valuable input which will help guide this program!

AND, if you worked on or know of a really great project (green or otherwise), don't forget to nominate it for a Preservation Award. Our 2012 Preservation Awards nomination form is now available on our website here--> Awards

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Georgia Theatre Update

As many of you will recall, the Georgia Theatre, Athens' beloved live music venue, suffered a devastating fire in June 2009. From the earliest days following the fire, it was made clear that the owners' intentions were to preserve what could be saved of the building and fully rehabilitate the historic theater. Through its Preservation Partners program, The Georgia Trust consulted with the theater's owners and established the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund. Organizations, businesses, groups and individuals from all over the country have donated money to the fund to be used solely for the rehabilitation of the Georgia Theatre. These generous donations have provided nearly $240,000 in support of the theater's rehabilitation, and have directly contributed to the theater's ability to celebrate its grand re-opening this summer!

Here's an update from the theater's owner, Wil Greene:

It's not too late to donate! Click HERE for more information about the Georgia Theatre and how YOU can make a tax deductible charitable donation to the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Member Spotlight

In this Member Spotlight, The Trust would like to highlight Joe and Evelyn Adams, of Macon. Joe, a prominent artist, serves on the Hay House Board of Trustees. Recently Joe and Evelyn opened their lovely 1854 cottage home as a ramble site for the 2011 Spring Ramble in Macon. The trust is proud to feature the Adams, and their work in historic preservation.

TGT: How did you first become involved with the Hay House?

J&E: Evelyn and I first became involved with Hay House when we came up with the idea for the first Stanislaus/ Hay House Garden tour and ask Hay House to join us. My first memory of Hay House is from childhood. I grew up in the neighborhood and went to Whittle School at the bottom of the hill. I remember going to Hay House to "Tricker treat". I think Chester answered the door.

TGT: What do you find compelling about the mission of the Trust?

J&E: Evelyn and I love the Rambles. We have met many nice people through the Trust and love seeing the homes that are opened through the Trust. The trust does a great job in educating the public on the importance of preservation.

TGT: What committees or organizations do you serve on (at the Hay House or other organizations)?

J&E: I have just become a trustee and look forward to serving on Christmas at Hay House. I helped last year with the decorations. I am also interested in the ongoing preservation and restoration efforts at Hay House.

TGT: Please list any recent awards.

J&E: Evelyn and I are involved with Historic Macon Foundation and Evelyn is currently a board member. I was recently a trustee. We recently received a preservation award for our home on College Street that was recently on the Spring Macon Ramble. We have had several gardens on Garden tours.

TGT: Are you a native of Georgia?

J&E: Evelyn and I are Macon Natives.

TGT: Hobbies?

J&E: Evelyn and I love to garden and I paint. We also collect antiques and some people accuse us of collecting houses.

TGT: Preservation Tip: A tip in which anyone can play a role (large or small) in historic preservation.

J&E: Seek help of preservation experts BEFORE undertaking a preservation/restoration project.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship Project Update

This will be my final posting as part of the Elizabeth Lion Fellowship. I wish to provide some final thoughts and reflections on the Fellowship.


When I began researching how textile mill’s changed in Georgia, I quickly realized I had to ground myself in the entire history of Georgia’s textile industry. Although I knew a fair amount about the place of the textile industry in Georgia, and how the industry’s rise coincided with the state’s gradual movement away from agriculture, to a manufacturing society, I was; however, unaware of the sheer importance of the textile industry. The rise of the textile industry in Georgia and the broader South, between the 1880s and the mid-1920s, dramatically transformed the areas were mills decided to locate. Although the paternalism of most mill companies dissipated almost half-a-century ago, and many of the mills are no longer in operation, their effect on the society remains apparent.

Although there has been a significant amount written about the rise of the textile industry, there is far less known about the textile industry and textile mills after World War II. When I began digging into this time period I expected that the decrease in Georgia’s textile industry, in terms of employment and operating mills, would surely begin shortly after World War II. In reality I found that the textile industry in Georgia continued to grow after World War II, although slowly as part of the overall manufacturing economy, until the 1970s. Georgia is unique, in that textile employment generally hovered around 25-30 percent of total manufacturing employment until the mid-1970s whereas other states Southern states saw more precipitous decline, although today, admittedly, Georgia’s industry is a shadow of its former size. In states like North Carolina and South Carolina, where textile employment was as high as 60 percent, these states witnessed an almost constant precipitous decline as early as the early 1960s. However in this decline, there was a great deal of change and adaptation by the mills. Mills invested heavily in new equipment, new buildings, dismantled much of their corporate paternalism, and constantly struggled to cut costs and introduce new products. These aspects of the post-War textile industry were some of the key findings of my work.

I hope my work has assisted in uncovering some of the reasons that mills in Georgia underwent widespread changes. Once additions are understood and quantified, then preservation issues around these additions can be considered in context. Many of these additions are currently outside of the 50 year benchmark, but some are not, and are already historic based simply on their age. Many additions or mills that are not currently within the 50 year benchmark will very shortly fall within this key timeframe. The more mills and their respective additions are understood, in theory, the less issues may arise with the preservation of mills. When mills are being preserved it is essential to look at the entire complex, not just the original mill, as all additions on a mill display something about the changes in the textile industry and changes in mill construction, and are thus historic and important when viewed in the appropriate historic context.


I would be remiss if I did not thank the many people who helped me with this project. First I would like to thank the numerous individuals who allowed me to survey their properties, and numerous others who tried to put me in contact with the appropriate parties. I would like to thank both the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, and the numerous individuals within these organizations who offered assistance and comments on my work. Additionally I wish to thank The Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia, and my professors who assisted me in greatly in completing this project. I would also like to thank Carol Griffith who introduced me to various preservation networks in Georgia and commented on my work. Finally I would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Lyons, for allowing me do to this project, and hope that I have contributed to the understanding of Georgia’s textile mills and how they changed following World War II.

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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 Historic Preservation Month

Ever wonder about the Rhodes Hall windows? Why would Amos Rhodes, who was a young boy in Kentucky during the Civil War, commission these windows for his 1904 Atlanta residence?

Join us at Rhodes Hall this evening to hear Dr. Gordon Jones, Senior Military Historian and Curator of the Atlanta History Center, speak about the Rhodes Hall painted glass windows. Learn about the Civil War scenes that are depicted, the men whose portraits are represented in the windows and the Lost Cause.

Click here for more information--> Preservation Month Events

The video below takes as interesting look at what 150 years can do to a battlefield as reenactors visit grounds that have since been developed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2011 Historic Preservation Month

Thursday, May 12, 6:30 p.m. | Rhodes Hall, Atlanta | Directions

Georgia's Mid-20th Century Mills Steven Eubanks, Recipient of the 2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship FREE. Come early. Reception will begin at 6 p.m. RSVP >>

Explore Georgia's mid-20th century industrial mill buildings through the eyes of Steven Eubanks, a graduate student from West Georgia Universy and recipient of the 2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship. Learn about the history of its workers and associated communities and the changes that influenced the transformation of Georgia’s industrial heritage from the 1950's to the present. Sponsored by the University of West Georgia, Center for Public History

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2011 Historic Preservation Month

2011 Preservation Month Lecture Series
Thursdays in May at 6:30 p.m.
Rhodes Hall, Atlanta

Tomorrow night, May 5, 6:30 p.m.

Identifying & Preserving Mid-20th Century African American Schools

Lecture by Jeanne Cyriaque & Steven Moffson of the Georgia Historic Preservation Division


Equalization schools were built in Georgia during the 1950s and 1960s to create school facilities that were "separate but equal" for whites and blacks. Nearly 400 schools were built, and additions were made to over 100 existing equalization schools for African Americans in Georgia alone. Hear amazing success stories and incredible people who work to preserve and find new uses for these endangered yet historic treasures.

Lecture is FREE. Come early and enjoy light refreshments at the reception, which begins at 6 p.m.


Monday, April 25, 2011

2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship Project Update

Tallapoosa Cotton Mills

Throughout the course of this project I have been surprised by a number of my findings. In researching Tallapoosa Cotton Mills (still in operation and currently known as Venus Thread Mill) in Tallapoosa, GA I believed that the mill, built in 1907, had no significant additions, and therefore I did not initially conduct an in-depth survey of the mill. Upon having the chance to return and examine the mill on April 12th with Dr. Keith Hebert, Co-Director of the Center for Public History and Assistant Professor at the University of West Georgia, it became apparent to Dr. Hebert that the mill had been significantly altered. Upon further research it was clear that the original mill existed, but that it had been encased on two sides by a large L-shaped addition which although largely expanding the mill, did not change the overall shape of the mill.

Figure 1: Tallapoosa, ca. 1915. Tallapoosa Cotton Mills. Tallapoosa, Haralson County. Hrl026 Photo Courtesy of Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Division of Archives and History, Office of Secretary of State.

Tallapoosa Cotton Mill had many of the typical features of a turn-of-the-century cotton mill. (See Figure 1 Above) Upon initial examination, both in paper and with a windshield survey, it appeared that the mill had no significant additions, because aerial views or footprints of the mill, which did not indicate its scale, hid the size of the mill and its expansion. (See Figures 2 and 3 Below) The addition added in 1948, simply encased two sides of the original mill, and had an L-shape, and it took careful study to realize that the mill had indeed been expanded.

Figure 2: Sanborn Map. Tallapoosa Jan. 1930-Dec. 1939 update, Sheet 7 Accessed through Proquest, Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970.

Figure 3: October 11, 2010 Aerial View of Tallapoosa Cotton Mills Courtesy of Google Earth. Notice the similar footprints of Tallapoosa Cotton Mills both before and after its 1948 addition. Without knowing the correct scale, the mill appears largely unchanged. The addition surrounded the original mill, covering the north and west facades.

The addition at Tallapoosa Cotton Mills clearly fits into the transitional period of mill additions. The addition is multi-storied and built directly onto the original mill, and simply added space for additional spinning equipment, as the mill only spun fiber and never wove fabric. The windows on both the original 1907 mill and the 1948 mill are bricked in, which gives the mill a deceptively coherent look. Additionally a large air cleaning unit and a central tower were added on the area where the two additions meet, covering much of the original mill, and hiding the differences in the original mill and the addition.(See Figure 4 Below) The 1948 addition was built with large, rectangular windows, indicating that natural light was still used widely in the late 1940s, even though interior lighting had improved, largely negating the use of exterior windows.(See Figure 5 Below) Due to limited interior access it is unclear if the addition was open to the rest of the mill, but it is known that the addition had the ever typical steel framing.

Figure 4: Photographer facing west. Notice the 1948 addition at the right of the photograph and the original 1907 mill, barely visible, to the left./ Photograph in possession of author, taken 4/12/11

Figure 5: Photographer facing south./ Photograph in possession of author, taken 4/12/11

Tallapoosa Cotton Mills shows the importance of carefully examining Georgia’s cotton mills to determine how they changed following World War II. Even after studying how Georgia’s mills changed following World War II for the better part of two semester I still expected to see mill additions that looked a certain way, or clearly indicated significant changes. Even so, Tallapoosa’s addition reinforces the transitional period in mill additions, whereby mills in the years immediately following World War II chose not to move away from multi-storied additions that relied on expansive windows, but instead they incorporated construction techniques that allowed windows to comprise most of the exterior of textile mills, highlighting the conservative nature of Georgia’s textile mill.

**May is National Historic Preservation Month and The Georgia Trust is recognizing the month with a Thursday evening lecture series. Join us on the evening of May 12th for a presentation by Steven Eubanks. Click HERE for more information about the May's events.

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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship Project Update

The Threat of Fires to Georgia’s Textile Mills

On March 24th, 2011, a devastating fire destroyed Macon’s Atlantic Cotton Mills (See Figures 1-3 Below). According to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, the mill was under construction in 1889 and was largely unchanged at the time of its demise. As part of my survey work, I studied Atlantic Cotton Mills on February 1, 2011. Although my project’s chief focus has been to determine how and why Georgia’s textile mills changed architecturally, one issue that became apparent throughout my project is that many mills did not expand or add additions, but chose to only invest in newer machinery and equipment in order to stay competitive. Such was the case with Atlantic Cotton Mills, and why I had the pleasure of surveying the mill property while in Macon investigating another mill.

Figure 1: Hines, Lewis. “Going Home from the Manchester Cotton Mill, Macon, Ga. ” January 1909. Photograph Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1 April 2011. (accessed 1 April, 2011) Atlantic Mills was known as Manchester Mills at the time of the photograph.

Figure 2: Photographer facing southeast, Photograph of Atlantic Cotton Mills north façade, Macon, GA. Photograph in possession of author, taken 2/1/11.

Figure 3: Bennett, Josephine. “Fire Destroys Historic Macon Cotton Mill,” 24 March 2011. Photograph Courtesy Georgia Public Broadcasting News. (accessed 1 April, 2011)

The conflagration at Atlantic Cotton Mills does illustrate some key historical issues. The chief danger for a textile mill, especially those built around the turn-of-the-twentieth century, was fire. Mills were ever cognizant of the danger of fire, and undertook a number of precautions to avoid catastrophic blazes. The presence of heavy cotton dust in cotton mills, made the threat of fires ever present. Crude sprinkler systems designed to extinguish fires were in use in New England’s textile mills in the early-to-mid 1800s. Gas or diesel fired generators saw widespread use in Southern mills, and allowed water to be more forcefully pushed through the mill, speeding reaction time to fires in addition to putting more water into a burning mill. Thus fire suppression systems were an integral part of mill construction, and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps document these complex fire suppression methods in detail. Take for instance the information provided in a 1962 Sanborn Map for Pacolet Manufacturing’s New Holland Mills, located near Gainesville, GA (See Figure 4 Below). The Sanborn Map designates how many people are on site when the mill is closed, the main power source for the mill, the types of sprinklers used, method of water delivery, water pressure, pipe capacity, where water comes from, and finally the types of fire repellants available to workers inside the mill. The information on how well a mill was prepared for a fire carried more weight than the actual mill footprint, which is of such great value today. New Holland’s mill is still owned and operated today by textile giant Milliken.

Figure 4: Sanborn Map. Gainesville June 1930-Feburary 1962 update. Sheet 26. Accessed through Proquest, Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970. The Sanborn shows New Holland Mills, in addition to the fire suppression system information, which has been enlarged for increased readability.

The threat of fires directly affected how the vast majority of Georgia’s mills were built. The construction method of choice for Georgia’s built in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a system known as “slow burning construction,” sometimes known simply as “mill construction.” Slow burning construction employed heavy use of interior wood framing, placed in such a fashion that in case of a fire, the wood would char, and not burn thru, thereby maintaining the rigidity necessary to sustain the weight of the mill machinery and not collapse. Slow burning construction also called for the use of self contained horizontal compartments that were separated from other compartments by closable fire doors. Thus, if a fire began in a mill, it could be contained in a single sealed compartment, and as it burned, it would not destroy the ever important wood columns or detract from the overall structural integrity.

Fires are still an issue for textile mills even after manufacturing ceases and although mills may stand vacant for years slowly deteriorating away, many suffer a fiery demise. Many Georgia mills have recently suffered the same fate as Atlantic Cotton Mills. Columbus’s Bibb Mill, a massive structure measuring nearly a quarter mill in length, burned in October 2008, halting plans to adaptively reuse the mill. Another Columbus mill, Jordan Hosiery Mill burned in October 2005, while plans were being formulated to redevelop the property. Some fires do not result in total loses but are nonetheless devastating. Atlanta’s Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills suffered a severe fire in 1999 while the property was being converted into lofts. The damage was not catastrophic and the outer shell survived. Numerous other mills have burned in Georgia recently while still housing production. Examples include Aragon Mills in Polk County which housed limited production when it burned in 2002 and LaGrange’s Valway Rug Mills, which burned in 1995, but was rebuilt by its parent company Milliken in only 6 months.

These are only a few select examples of the current danger of fire in Georgia’s mills. Many more mills simply fall into states that negate their use for anything other than scrap. The historical significance of the textile industry, in not only the state of Georgia but the broader South, calls for careful preservation of mill structures. The widespread conversion of many mills to loft or housing, may assure that these structures will remain viable landmarks to a proud industrial past, an industrial past that Georgia is not all that far removed from. In the past two decades a significant number of mills in Georgia have closed, putting a number of structures at risk. Although the fate of Atlantic Mills looked bright in the weeks before its destruction, because preservation efforts were underway to redevelop the mill into lofts, a bleak fate seems assured for many mills across the state of Georgia, unless preservation of mill prosperities becomes a priority, or at least a significant focus of preservation efforts. Georgia’s textile mills, although certainly not as aesthetically pleasing as the finest houses in Atlanta’s Inman Park, do carry a deep historical significance and a have distinct presence where they exist, making their preservation understandable and warranted.

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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship Project Update

Apparel Manufacturing Plants

The significance of the textile industry in Georgia is evident. It dominated the state’s manufacturing economy for more than half a century. The industry benefited from the state’s transition from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy, moving into portions of the state that had a large potential labor pool. The effects on the society at large were immense making arguments for the preservation of these structures based on their social significance valid. Many textile mills also have a certain aesthetic appeal, making preservation based on pure aesthesis and character understandable. There is also a certain level of cultural awareness for many people about textile mills, and what they symbolized. The argument for the preservation of apparel manufacturing plants is slightly more clouded.(Apparel plants refers to buildings involved in the cutting and sewing of apparel)

One issue that needs to be addressed is how a discussion of apparel plants relates to textile mills. Above I mentioned the social impacts of the textile industry as a major argument for their preservation. There has always been a small segment of Georgia’s manufacturing economy involved in manufacturing apparel. With hundreds of textile mills making the necessary fabric in Georgia, apparel manufacturing fit nicely into the state’s textile complex. Apparel manufacturing until the mid-1950s lagged far behind textile mills in Georgia, in terms of total employment. In 1950 Georgia’s textile mills employed approximately 35 percent of all manufacturing employees whereas apparel plants employed only about 8 percent. A decade later, in 1960, textiles employed about 26 percent of Georgia’s manufacturing jobs (a decline of 10 percentage points), and apparel manufacturers employed about 13 percent of Georgia’s manufacturing jobs (an increase of about 5 percentage points). Apparel manufacturers made gains by pushing into areas, like the west Georgia and north Georgia regions that still had a significant labor pool. Apparel manufacturing is even more labor intensive than textile mills and generally paid lower wages, making areas that have a large potential workforce attractive to apparel manufacturers. Apparel manufacturing locating in an area was significant, if somewhat less pronounced than the entrance of textile mills in an area, as these areas generally had little to no industry before the arrival of apparel manufacturing. Apparel manufacturing was in reality doing in the 1950s and the 1960s what textile mills had done half a century before. There were differences. Apparel “villages” were not built and plants did not generally require thousands of workers like textile mills. Apparel plants were generally small, with many hiring extremely small workforces. When apparel plants closed, however, their closure could affect a community as traumatically as the closure of a major textile mill.

Above: Photographer facing northeast, Photograph of Sewell Manufacturing’s apparel plant in Bowdon, GA, This windowless plant was built in the late 1960s and housed cutting. The plant still conducts cutting today, but on a much smaller scale/ Photograph in possession of author, taken 3/17/11

Architecturally, apparel plants followed similar trends to textile mills.(See Above) Apparel plants built in the first half of the twentieth century where similar to textile mills, having brick veneers and broad window bays. In the 1950s and 1960s apparel plants look striking similar to mill additions and new mill construction. Technological improvements allowed textile mill structures to take on a very utilitarian look, similar in many ways to apparel manufacturing plants. Most plants and mills built in the 1950s or 1960s were windowless, or had few windows, were brick veneered, with non bearing concrete block walls, and interior steel framing. The preservation of these vernacular structures is rarely a priority. Although many of these structures are less than fifty years old, some are approaching the fifty year benchmark for National Register Nomination, which with the societal impacts of the apparel plants, makes a strong case for the preservation of these structures. Post-World War II mill additions and apparel manufacturing plants, although not always the most striking structures had a distinct and undeniable effect on the communities in which they were located, especially apparent today after many are no more. Additionally both textile industry and apparel industry share a similar story of rapid decline, making these once important industries shadows of their former selves.

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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Can you hear me now?

One of the many intriguing sites included in this year's Ramble through Macon is the Telephone Exchange Building (c. 1904). The building has since been converted into fabulous lofts that are conveniently located in Downtown Macon.

The building features fine brickwork, terra-cotta trim and copper detailing on both façades on the corner lot. The three-story Italianate design copied a Bell Telephone Company structure in Richmond, Virginia, now demolished. Along with the four-story addition (c.1926) that adjoins it on Second Street, the building housed the operations of the Southern Telephone and Telegraph office until 1942. During the 1970s the Macon Technical School had space in the building. Unfortunately, the structure remained vacant beginning in 1980 and slowly deteriorated. The property was purchased in 1999 by Macon Heritage Foundation, now Historic Macon Foundation. After a new roof stabilized the building, Al and Kay Gerhardt bought it at the end of 2005. Work began in late 2007 using construction loans from the National Trust and the Georgia Cities Foundation. The building will be sold as condominiums, with residential use for the upper floors and commercial uses on the first floor.

To tour one of the great lofts in this building, join us for the 2011 Spring Ramble. Visit

2010 Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship Project Update

The Ever Changing Textile Process

Discussions about how textile mill construction and architecture changed following WWII can be very interesting and relevant because of the number of mills that expanded in this period. At its heart though, a mill is simply a place to house a production process. A textile mill might be built with modern construction techniques, such as steel interior supports, concrete floors, non load bearing brick walls, and such, but the machinery inside the mill was what truly made a modern mill, modern. In this post I will step away from talking about changes in mill architecture and briefly focus on the changes in textile mill technology. The changes underwent by textile mill machinery in the decades following WWII could fill several books, so only the broad changes will be focused on. The textile process is best visualized and textual representation of the process could never do it justice.


The process that turns fiber to fabric is an ever changing and complex process. We are only a few centuries removed from when a single worker would labor for hours, days, or weeks, to manufacture enough fabric to make a piece of clothing. It took hundreds of man-hours to create a single yard of fabric, with every step in the process, including the cleaning of the cotton (or wool), straightening the fibers, the making of the yarn, and finally the making of the fabric, being extremely tedious and labor intensive, and the final product far from perfect. Today the number of man hours it takes to make a yard of fabric is minuscule, because technology has improved and sped the process up tremendously. The process has undergone a number of significant changes since WWII, making a mill and an individual worker ever more productive.

What changed to allow this increase in productivity? One trend allowing for increased production following WWII, was the combination of steps and machinery. There are three main processes that turn a fiber (cotton, wool, or manmade) into a fabric. The first step is the cleaning and straightening of the fibers, the second step involves the spinning of the fiber into a single yarn, and the third major step is the making of the fabric. The first stage (cleaning and straightening) is an excellent example of the combination of processes. When cotton arrives at a mill it has been ginned to remove the seeds and large pieces of trash, but it is still very dirty. The process in the 1940s-1950s involved the cotton being opened and blended manually and fed by hand into a system that used air to propel the cotton to be picked, where excess trash was removed. Following picking the cotton still had to be carded (which produced a thick cotton lap, similar to a thick mat of cotton), doubled (where multiple laps are combined), and combed (which turned the multiple laps into a thick cotton sliver, similar to a thick piece of web like yarn). Today these processes are largely combined into one fluid step, where the cotton is manually blended, compelled by air to the carding equipment, with no separate picking operation required, and off of the carding machines comes the thick cotton sliver.

The spinning process also underwent a number of significant changes. The spinning process involved a complex set of steps that turned a thick cotton sliver into a compact piece of yarn. Following the combing process, multiple slivers are combined into a single large sliver. This sliver is then placed on a slubber (where the sliver is drawn out and placed on bobbins), then a roving frame(See Photograph Below) (where the material is starting to take on a yarn like consistency), and finally placed on the spinning frame (See Photograph Below) (where the yarn receives the appropriate twist and a final drawing out process). This multi-stage process, while still used in some form for finer yarns, was rendered mostly obsolete(except for the drawing process) with the introduction of open end spinning(See Photograph Below). Open end spinning combined roving, spinning, and winding(which was an additional process that combined multiple bobbins onto a large spool) onto one piece of machinery. Open end spinning works along the same lines as pulling clothing out of a running clothes dryer. The continuous spinning of the dryer will give the clothes a twist as you remove them. Open end spinning was a simple premise that dramatically revolutionized the spinning process in textile mills.

Above: Photograph of Roving Frame at Lawrenceville Cotton Mill. 1920s, Lawrenceville, Gwinnet County. gwn 241. Photograph courtesy of Vanishing Georgia.

Above: Photograph of spinning frame at unidentified LaGrange Mill. 1930s. LaGrange, Troup County, trp251. Photograph courtesy of Vanishing Georgia.

Above: Modern open end spinning frame used at Trion’s Mount Vernon Mills, which combined the processes done on the above photograph roving and spinning frames. Photograph taken January 17th. In possession of author.

Once the fiber is prepared into yarn, it is not yet ready to be woven. The yarn has to be warped (whereby many fibers are laid parallel onto a single beam) then slashed (whereby multiple warper beams are combined and chemicals are added to strengthen the fiber), in some cases depending in the end use dyed, and finally if dyed rebeamed (which involves relaying the fibers parallel on a single beam). This final beam is ready to be woven. These steps have remained largely unchanged, in principle, but are now much more efficient. Weaving however has undergone a dramatic change since WWII. For generations, a loom relied on a shuttle to convey a weft thread back and forth through the warp threads. The adoption of shuttleless looms revolutionized weaving. (See Photograph Below) Removing the shuttle dramatically increased the productive capability of weaving. The weft thread in shuttleless looms is conveyed back and forth by air in air jet looms, which are the most popular, or water, in water jet looms. The speed of these looms was far greater than looms with shuttles.

Above: Modern shuttleless air-jet loom used at Trion’s Mount Vernon Mills. Photograph taken January 17th. In possession of author.

As steps are being combined, the overall process is also being sped up. The proliferation of air conditioning, which allowed for a consistent moisture content in the fibers, reduced breaks, further increasing production speeds. Increasing productive capability, and combining processes could free up a great deal of space within a mill, allowing for the installation of even more equipment. There are also many small improvements to machinery that could increase speed as well as reduce downtime. There were also improvements in other phases of textile production, including the dying, bleaching, or finishing stages, which further improved the ability to get the product to customers faster. Thus the ability to improve technology and utilize new machinery benefited textile mills in a plethora of ways.

The above discussion is based on three key sources as well as a January 17th site visit to Trion’s Mount Vernon Mills:

“A Bird’s-Eye View of the Manufacture of Cotton Cloth” from The ABC of Textiles form Raw Material to Finished Fabric Cotton, 1938. Located in Debbie Curtis Toole, editor, Cotton Mills, Planned Communities and the New Deal: Vernacular Architecture and Landscapes of the New South. Athens, GA: Green Berry Press, 1999), 126-127.

United State Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technology and Manpower in the Textile Industry of the 1970’s. Washington : Government Printing Office, Bulletin No. 1578 August 1968.

Zeisel, Rose N. “Modernization and Manpower in Textile Mills” Monthly Labor Review. June 73 (Vol. 96 Issue 6), 18-25.

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.