The Significance of “Textile Industry” in Greensboro, NC

Various colorful textile bolts, signify the rich Textile Industry history in Greensboro, NC

The Significance of “Textile Industry” in Greensboro, NC

The Significance of the Textile Industry in Greensboro, NC, is integral to the city’s history and development.

After the town struggled in the Civil War and Reconstruction, the textile manufacturers gave our town an industrial base that brought jobs and prosperity.

It all began when two Baltimore salesmen started textile mills in Greensboro in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I invite you to read more about these two men in this Thursday’s History Facts.

From there, Greensboro grew as local textile firms expanded and thrived.

Many of these companies practiced welfare capitalism, taking on duties such as building houses, schools, and recreation centers for workers and their families.

The result was close-knit communities centered around the mills, such as Proximity and White Oak in Greensboro.

When textile manufacturing went overseas in the mid-80s, Greensboro had to find new ways to reinvent itself.

Years later, the renowned artist Janet Echelman brought the feeling of textile history back into the city with her aerial sculpture, Where We Met. This sculpture represents the railway lines and the fiber from the textile past.

In this week’s articles, you will find many connections to the “textile” world of Greensboro, NC.

So, keep on reading!

Elsewhere Museum - Swing set at the entrance to the museum with Marion from Travel Like a Local & guest

The Elsewhere Museum, located at 606 South Elm Street in Greensboro, NC, is unlike any other museum I have ever visited.

It is also known to be a world-renowned artist residency and is a place with a lot of fun to explore.

Its fascinating story began in 1937 when Mr. and Mrs. Gray started buying liquidated stock from storehouses, repairing it, and selling it as their business, Carolina Sales Company.

After Mr. Joe Gray died in 1955, Sylvia Gray had to manage the business by herself, and she became what is known as a “hoarder.”

She had the quirkiest personality and bought “stuff” only to fill her store. Among her purchases are plenty of textiles, clothing, and leftovers from various mills around town. The logic to all of this was only known by herself.

After her death in 1997, this overpacked store was left untouched for years.

Only when her grandson and some friends “rediscovered” the space was its true potential unveiled, leaving them in awe of the hidden treasures they found in it.

So they decided to leave all the things in the building and sorted through tons of “collectibles” of 58 years of hoarding.

They had the idea to make this space a collaborative place for artists of all media. They also opened a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to run the business.

Creatives from all over the world are invited to live as residents here for about a month, work on new projects, and give the space a new look. That’s how you will never find the store looking the same.

However, one thing is for sure – nothing leaves this place.

Many of the things in there are still “originals” of Ms. Sylvia Gray.

Map of the South Asian country of Laos

Do you love “Asian” Food?

Do you know where Laos is located?

And with that, I mean Laos, the country, AND Lao Restaurant + Bar in Greensboro, NC.

Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR or LPDR), is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia.

The restaurant is tucked away on 219A South Elm Street, but this culinary gem is worth a visit.

Whether you crave tasty dumplings, juicy short ribs, or savory noodles, the Lao Restaurant + Bar has a diverse menu that fits all tastes.

The place is small but inviting and has an intimate feel. It’s good for a date night or just for having fun.

The significance of Textile Industry in Greensboro, NC - Picture of the Revolution Cotton Mill from the early 20th Century

This week’s newsletter is full of stories about the significance of Greensboro, NC’s “textile” history.

Revolution Cotton Mills is only one of many mills built between the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Each of them is a testament to our industrial heritage.

Between 1880 and 1900, six new mills were built in North Carolina every year. By 1900, the state had 177 mills, the vast majority of which were in the Piedmont Triad.

The complex is an example of “slow-burning construction.” This style is a strong, durable, slow-burning type of joisted masonry characterized by heavy floors and thick wooden columns or beams. Which can still be seen today after their renovation.

It includes 12 contributing buildings and 2 contributing structures. They include the main mill building, warehouses, weave room and machine shop, bleachery and dye room, storage/shipping/office building, and yellow brick chimney stack. 

Revolution Cotton Mills is known for being the first flannel mill in the South when it opened its doors in 1898.

Over the years, the textile business went overseas, and the mill had to close in 1982.

The mill was unoccupied until 2013, when it was revitalized.

Today, Revolution Mill Greensboro is a mixed-use property.

You can now find loft apartments, galleries, small businesses, big corporations, restaurants, and coffee shops where looms and sewing machines once worked.

The significance of Textile Industry in Greensboro, NC - Moses and Caesar Cone brothers, the founders of Cone Mills in Greensboro NC

Staying with the theme of “textile” this week, let me introduce you to the two men who brought textile manufacturing to Greensboro, NC.

Moses and Caesar Cone started investing in textile mills in North Carolina in 1895. They opened Proximity Manufacturing Company and built Proximity Cotton Mills. Their target product was denim.

Caesar Cone served as the Proximity Manufacturing Company’s president.

Four years later, they partnered with two men from South Carolina and launched a flannel manufacturer, Revolution Mills.

I invite you to read more about it in our Wednesday: Architectural News Today. 

Moses Cone was a philanthropist. It started with the Cone Mill Villages, which provided a social support network for their workers and a place to live, play, and worship.  

He was also an advocate for education.

For every dollar raised by the citizens, he gave four dollars to the schools in Blowing Rock, NC, where he had his summer estate.

He also contributed to the start of the Appalachian State University, serving on its original board.

Moses Cone died unexpectedly in Dec 1908 at the age of 51. His widow outlived him by 39 years. They didn’t have any children.

Ceasar Cone died in March 1917 at the age of 57.

Even though these brothers didn’t reach old age, their accomplishments and legacy are living on in Greensboro and the state of NC.

First Friday Downtown  Greensboro Logo

Another month has started, and with June, Summer vibes are filling the city.

There are lots of events going on. Some charge a fee, and others are free, but all are so much fun.

Reminder: It’s the First Friday again in the city!

This means that stores, galleries, and places are open longer, will have live music to entertain you, and plenty of free activities to be part of.

As always, Maria and Noches Latinas will dance the night away at LeBauer Park in Greensboro, NC.

It was interesting to explore the history, the buildings, and the people behind the rich story of our textile past in Greensboro, NC.

So much history is tied to those years that Denim, Flannel, and other textiles were made here.

We are thankful for the two men, Moses and Caesar Cone, who saw potential in our area and made Greensboro, NC, the “Textile Capital of the World” for a while.

If you want to learn more about our great city of Greensboro, NC, subscribe to our newsletter and read the previous ones for more tips and fascinating subjects. 


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