Posts Tagged ‘mill villages’


January 29, 2009


From “The Maxi Page,” The Randolph Guide Senior Adult Newspaper Supplement, published April 29, 1981.

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company, ca. 1890.

The wooden factory was replaced circa 1915.

Coleridge was the home of the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, the southern most cotton mill built on Deep River. Its construction in 1882 was the final link in the chain of Randolph County’s water-powered textile industries which had begun to be forged in 1836. The company was organized by H.A.
Moffitt, an Asheboro merchant, and Daniel Lambert and James A. Cole, prominent citizens of southeastern Randolph. The original structure was a two-and-one-half story wooden building housing 800 spindles and 26 workers. The facilities of the corporation included a wool-carding mill, saw mill, and flour mill.

The surrounding village was known first as Cole’s Ridge and then as Coleridge, after James A. Cole, who in 1904 sold a majority interest in the company to his son-in-law, Dr. Robert L. Caveness. By 1917 it was said that “R. L. Caveness is at the head of practically everything in Coleridge,” and it was under his influence that the brick mill facilities were built. The factory (built in the 1920’s) is of utilitarian design with Tudor Revival entrance towers. The company store, bending mill, and warehouse (all built circa 1910), and the company office and Bank of Coleridge (built in the 1920’s) were all constructed in the Romanesque Revival style. Caveness also directed the town’s only other industry, the Coleridge Manufacturing Company, which made parts of bentwood chairs.

The Concord Methodist Church was built in Coleridge in 1887. Just behind the church building was located the Coleridge Academy, which included a room for the Masonic Lodge. The academy was formed in 1890 from two smaller schools, and closed in 1936. The Bank of Coleridge was founded in 1919, opened a branch in Ramseur in 1934, and moved there in 1939. The Enterprise Roller Mill, grinding wheat with steel rollers instead of stones, was the first roller mill in Randolph County. Its “Our Leader” flour was
very popular in the area. Dr. Caveness remained personally involved in the operation of the mill, although he tried to return to his medical practice in 1922.

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company Store

In 1959 the mill boasted 6,000 spindles and 150 employees, manufacturing cotton or knitting yarn and twine. In 1951, Dr. Caveness died and the business immediately began to decline. His heirs sold out to Boaz Mills of Alabama in 1954, and in 1958 the mill was closed and the equipment sold off. The buildings have since been used as warehouse space.

The village was Randolph County’s first historic district, and has been placed on the National Register or Historic Places. Its 1970 nomination stated that “the chief appeal of this site is as a picturesque example of a riverside mill seen in one of North Carolina’s oldest manufacturing sections.”

These illustrations can be found in the Randolph County Public Library’s collection of historic photographs, .

They were previously used to illustrate portions of Randolph County: 1779-1979, the county bicentennial book.


Island Ford Village, Franklinville

January 2, 2009

I’m pulling out a number of my photos of the east side of Franklinville, the 1846 Island Ford Village. Here is the intersection of East Main Street with Academy (originally Mulberry) Street; the road trending diagonally up the hill to the left is Weatherly Avenue, where the Dave Weatherly House sits behind the trees at the top of the hill.

The smokestack of the Randolph Mfg. Co. is just behind the telephone pole in the right middle ground; the original bell cupola has been removed from the 1895 stair tower, probably placing the date of the photo in the late 1930s.

The Lower Company Store is at the visual termination of Main Street, which took a left turn around the store and continued over the hill toward Ramseur. At the time of this photo, the store would have been transformed into the “Community House” and movie theater.

The three Lower Cotton Row houses to the left of the store were all demolished in the late 1930s during the construction of the Lower Mill Bleachery. The Bleachery itself was added to the mill between the Island Ford Wheel House and the old Cotton Warehouse. The natural cotton cloth woven in the mill came out of it bleached bone white, then to be sent for printing in the adjacent printing department, and then napping (if for sale as flannel) or shipping (if for sale as feed bags). None of the 1846 Island Ford Cotton Row Houses have survived, but all had a two-story form generally identical to the Thomas Rice house on Weatherly Ave. Thomas Rice was the Master Carpenter who built the Island Ford Mill, and probably also his own house and the worker houses.

A concrete swimming pool had been built behind the Cotton Row houses about 1930, but a defect in the concrete caused a wall to collapse and the pool was ruined. It was rebuilt in connection with the Bleachery Pond, a spring-fed reservoir holding the (massive) amount of water required to bleach, dye and print the cloth. The houses were replaced with a pump station and small treatment facility to purify the water.

In the woods at the head of the creek feeding the Bleacher Pond was the “Pest House,” a small house used to isolate Franklinville residents who were suffering contagious diseases. The 19th century endured quite a few such diseases, generally thought to be incurable, and exile to the Pest House was often feared as a sentence of death.