Explore the many mills and historic resources remaining in this Southern hub of the cotton textile industry!
LaGrange’s extensive textile past has shaped both of these communities economically and culturally. The textile industry began earlier in Troup County than other counties on the Textile Trail with the opening of Robertson’s Woolen Mill owned by Robert Robertson in 1847. The business generated from Robertson’s Woolen Mill lead to the creation Troup County’s first cotton mill, Troup Factory, established along Flat Shoal Creek in 1848. This small company produced plain osnaburg cloth until 1902, when it was purchased by Lemuel M. Park and Judge Benjamin H. Bigham and moved to LaGrange as Park Cotton Mills. LaGrange is also one of the few counties along the Textile Trail to have a textile mill that was established by a women. Sarah B. Marbry established a hosiery mill in LaGrange shortly after the Civil War. Marbry’s products were shipped as far as New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Beginning in the late 19th, spurred by New South ideologies, financial opportunities, and technological innovations, LaGrange textile industry expanded greatly. In 1910, the textile industry in LaGrange included six individual cotton mills, LaGrange Cotton Mills, Dixie Cotton Mills, Unity Cotton Mills, Park Cotton Mills, Elem City Cotton, and Unity Spinning Mills. Later that year, another mill, Dunson Cotton Mills, was built in LaGrange. In 1920 Hillside Mills was built in LaGrange. In 1930, the textile industry in LaGrange expanded again with the construction of four more mills, Valley Waste, Valway Rug, Rockweave, and Oakleaf.
The expansion of the textile industry necessitated housing for the textile industry workforce. Several textile companies provided housing and facilities for the mill workers. Each mill village home included a substantial amount of land for out buildings and gardens. The mill provided landscaping services as well as community facilities such as schools, churches, stores, and recreational and medical facilities.
Textile business began to decline in LaGrange due to overseas competition facilitated by NAFTA. In an effort to be competitive in the textile industry, many LaGrange mills began producing new products or were absorbed by larger competitors. Callaway Mills, for example, produced terry cloth towels, industrial fabrics, and carpet after Milliken purchased the company in 1968. Milliken then shifted from cotton products to tufted carpet printing, using computerized ink jet technology to create carpet and rug designs. Milliken now maintains headquarters in South Carolina, but still operates several plants in Troup County, in and around LaGrange. Textile employment dropped from 8,000 to 3,000 despite increased industrial development in LaGrange. Although greatly reduced, the textile industry continues to provide jobs and industry in LaGrange today.
Member Organizations on the Trail:
What can you do?
- Legacy Museum on Main — This museum focuses on the history of LaGrange and Troup County and includes the textile story for the region in its permanent exhibit. The museum’s permanent collection also includes the original 1929 Seth Thomas Clockworks from Callaway Monument, one of the red light beacons from atop the monument, and a reproduction of Fuller Callaway’s office including original furnishings, photographs of Troup Factory, a panel about Sarah Mabry, a display of local textile heritage including maps to locate all LaGrange’s associated factories in the region.
- Troup County Archives — Located above the Legacy Museum on Main, the Troup County Archives boasts a wide array of archival material related to the textile industry in the region.
- Hills & Dales Estate — Visit this significant historical home of the Callaway family, see the exhibits, and visit the ornamental gardens the family developed.
What can you see?
- Callaway Monument — This clock tower was erected in 1929, after Fuller E. Callaway Sr.’s death the year before, and is the highest point in southwest LaGrange. The monument, fashioned after the Campanile (bell tower) of San Marco Basilica in Venice, Italy, was designed by Ivy and Crook. The surrounding grounds were designed by Earle Sumner Draper.
Architect P. Thornton Marye designed two homes which can be viewed from Broad Street. The first, the Truitt-Mansour Home, was built by textile magnate Cornelius V. Truitt in 1914. The second, “Sunny Gables,” was built in 1926 by Mary B. Nix with inherited textile money from her uncle John M. Barnard, another textile magnate in LaGrange.
Many restored craftsman-style Hillside Village homes can be seen along Lincoln Street.
The old Dunson School — On Barnard Avenue, started by Dunson Mills, is now converted into senior apartments.
Several historic mills can still be seen — Historic Elm City Mills on Elm Street, Dixie Mills on Greenville Street, and Dunson Mills on Barnard Avenue.
Callaway Auditorium — On Dallis Street.
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