From Cotton to Suits
Exploring Carroll County’s Textile Stories
From Cotton to Suits: Carroll County’s Textile Stories
Sites to Visit Along the Trail
Temple’s local boosters encouraged Sewell Manufacturing to build an apparel plant here, investing in a new water system, donating 8.5 acres, and paving the streets. Sewell Manufacturing Company’s plant #2 opened on Sewell Street, off West Johnson Street, in 1953. While the plant has been demolished, the water tower, which the city used to attract the company still remains, on 911 Sewell Street off West Johnson Street/Highway 113. Discover more: http://westgatextiletrail.com/temple/
2. Villa Rica
Industry developed in this historic railroad town at the turn of the twentieth century, after the arrival of the railroad in 1882.In 1906, Judson Fuller established a cotton mill and his sons added a hosiery mill in 1911 on the west side of Villa Rica, creating a company town called Fullerville. The old mill and much of the company housing still survives, illustrating a variety of plan types. Following the walking trail of Fullerville, beginning your tour at the Fullerville Soccer Complex, 121 Ball Park Dr., Villa Rica.
Several mills and cotton warehouses filled what is now the North Villa Rica Historic District, north of the railroad track. Rica-Tex Hosiery Mill (1927) and Golden City Hosiery Mills (1929) were producing 1.8 million socks each week by the 1950s. The Mill, a downtown amphitheater, is at the location of the Golden City Hosiery Mills. The city had six warehouses which stored cotton bales until they could be shipped at the train depot, now gone, including the Pope Brothers Warehouse at 301-319 Temple Street. Follow the trail at: http://westgatextiletrail.com/fullerville-trail/
Banning was a thriving industrial community in the 1800s. The first cotton mill here was a small wooden building which burned around 1851. The current three-story brick mill reflects the architecture of the New South cotton industry in the late 1800s. Entrepreneur Arthur Hutcheson, who acquired the property in 1878, modernized the mill and its equipment, added steam power, and established a company town complete with company houses, store, school, and church.
Today, visitors can take a half-hour hike from Banning Lodge at 205 Horseshoe Dam Rd, Whitesburg to see the brick mill, where scenes from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” were filmed. Banning Lodge has a display of historic photographs from the Banning community. Discover more: http://westgatextiletrail.com/banning/
Whitesburg became a booming railroad town in southern Carroll County with the arrival of the Central of Georgia Railroad in 1873. The ca. 1885 railroad depot, which still survives at 717 Main Street, Whitesburg, served cotton farmers throughout the region. Drive across the tracks to get the best view of the depot. Look for the brick wall on the north end of the depot.This is the only remaining wall from the Virginia Manufacturing Company built in the late 1940s to spin yarn and produced braided cord for venetian blinds. After the mill burned, stockholders sold the company to Wellington Technical Industries, which built a new facility north of town, off Wellington Mill Rd. Discover more: http://westgatextiletrail.com/whitesburg/
Fashion Star opened here in 1972 to produce high-end uniforms and business suits for women. The company acquired the former Lowell High School at 67 Liberty Church Rd, Carrollton, and added several buildings as production grew. Its primary customers were small, independent banks. The company closed in 2010. This building is not open to the public.
Follow the bowdon Spur Walking Tour in the historic industrial center of Bowdon. Park and begin at the Old City Hall at 126 City Hall Avenue, and follow the signs to learn more about the apparel industry in this community. The trail features three wayside signs and individual plaques on buildings along City Hall Avenue that interpret the processes of the apparel industry that took place here. You can also view the exhibit at: http://westgatextiletrail.com/bowdon-trail/
Contact the Bowdon Area Historical Society to visit the museum and see an exhibit on the city’s apparel industry at 105 College View Street.
Carrollton was a hive of textile activity in the twentieth century. Visit historic Adamson Square, which was the center of cotton trade, Bradley Street with its hosiery mills and cotton warehouses, the railroad depot that provided essential transportation for the cotton and manufacturing trade, and Mandeville Mills and mill village. Explore the downtown walking trail at: http://westgatextiletrail.com/carrollton/
8. Mt. Zion
The Ray Sewell company built a pants manufacturing plant here in 1955. The building still remains here at 4455 Mt, Zion Rd, Mt. Zion, repurposed by the City as a public library and city office building. Visitors can see historic photos of the plant in operation in the library. Discover more: http://westgatextiletrail.com/mt-zion/
9. Bowdon Junction (or Mandeville)
Sewell Manufacturing Company built Plant #5 here in 1960 at 3743 US-27, Carrollton. Employees at this plant cut coat and pants pieces and matched patterns. This brick industrial-style buildings is typical of the architecture of this company during its expansion after World War II. The plant closed and the building has been repurposed for other businesses.
Email the Trail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call UWG Center for Public History at 678-839-6141 for more information.