Telling Stories, Connecting Communities

Tag: Sewell

Mount Zion

This town’s manufacturing plant was a small division of a larger Georgia company.

Starting in 1928, the Sewell brothers began operating Sewell Manufacturing Company in Mount Zion. The building that housed this company is now the Mount Zion Public Library.


Visit


Things to Do

  • Mt. Zion Public Library, 4455 Mount Zion Road: The city converted the Ray Sewell Manufacturing facility into a public library after the company shut down in the 1980s. Visit the library to see historic photos of the site and to view an example of mid-century industrial architecture!

History


The Ray Sewell Company (Courtesy of Sharon Sewell)

The production of men’s apparel was unique to central west Georgia. In 1919, brothers Robert, Roy, and Warren Sewell operated a “jobbing” company in Atlanta, contracting men’s clothing in New York and selling those clothes under their own labels here in Georgia. Headquartered in Bremen, Georgia, by 1928, their Sewell Manufacturing Company began manufacturing men’s suits and coats themselves. As the Sewell’s company grew, it expanded operations several times in the west Georgia region. Eventually, each Sewell brother created his own manufacturing company.   

Entrepreneur Ray Sewell Sr., nephew of Roy and Warren Sewell, opened his own clothing company, The Ray Sewell Company, in 1955 in his home when he filled a contract order for men’s pants with a Louisiana company. The Ray Sewell Company soon opened small manufacturing plants in Mount Zion and Buchanan, Georgia, and Wedowee, Alabama.

Though the Ray Sewell Company experienced success and expansion through the 1960s and 1970s, including in other area cities, the company closed its doors in 1988 due to increased foreign competition that preceded the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994.

The Ray Sewell Company’s Mount Zion location is now the home of the community’s local library and senior center. Today you can see photographs of this former manufacturing company within the library.  


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Resources to Explore

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Temple

Men’s apparel was the major product of this small textile town.


Visit


Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Sewell Manufacturing Company Plant No. 2, 911 Sewell Street: Temple’s local boosters encouraged Sewell Manufacturing Company to lay claim to the city. While the plant has since been demolished, the water tower, which the town used to attract the company, is still standing.

History


  • Photo of a newspaper clipping state what the citizens of Temple did to get Sewell to setup there
    Newspaper cutout of all done by the residents and city of Temple, Georgia, to draw textile manufacturing to their town. Courtesy Harold Brock Family

The production of men’s apparel was unique to central west Georgia. In 1919, brothers Robert, Roy, and Warren Sewell operated a “jobbing” company in Atlanta, contracting men’s clothing in New York and selling those clothes under their own labels here in Georgia. By 1928, their Sewell Manufacturing Company was headquartered in Bremen, Georgia, and was now manufacturing men’s suits and coats themselves. As the Sewell’s company grew, they expanded operations several times in the west Georgia region, including plant #2 in Temple, Georgia.

West Georgia was already home to a variety of textile industries, but men’s apparel brought new success and jobs to several small cities in the countryside, including Temple. The city of Temple, along with local boosters, made great efforts to attract Sewell Manufacturing Company to build a new plant in the city. As seen in one of the photographs above, the city spent $40,000 to create a new water system. In addition to the city’s contribution, a Temple resident donated 8.5 acres of land and the Temple Improvement Club donated more than $8,000 to pave the street and parking lot designated for a possible Sewell plant.

The improvements made in the city paid off and Sewell Manufacturing plant #2 opened its doors on December 7, 1953. This plant, or “shop,” manufactured men’s pants that would be paired with suit coats made at the Bremen facility. Unlike some older hosiery mills operating in nearby Carrollton at the time, Sewell plant #2 was equipped with air conditioning. During the 1950s, it employed 250 people and produced 2,000 pairs of pants per week. Sewell’s Temple location was demolished in the mid-2000s, but the impact of the company lives on through the memory of many area residents.


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Bowdon

This community’s textile industry started later than most, but it grew rapidly and eventually created suits for President Carter!

This small town served a big name within the United States in that President Carter’s suits were crafted here. While it’s textile industry began a bit later than in other communities, it is currently still dominant within the town of Bowdon.


Visit


Things to Do

  • Bowdon Area Historical Society, 105 Collegeview Street: Located behind Bowdon High School, the Bowdon Area Historical Society is home to the Heritage Walk, Whatley Memorial Park, and Shelnutt House Museum. Their mission statement is “to preserve the heritage of the Bowdon area and instill an appreciation of the past in both present and future generations.” While you’re here, you are able to view clothing worn by President Carter. The Shelnutt House Museum, where the Bowdown Area Historical Society has its headquarters, is open to the public by appointment only.
  • Copeland Hall, 103 Barr Avenue: This location is Bowdon’s Cultural Arts Center, where concerts, plays, educational shows, and more are offered.
  • Warren Sewell Memorial Library, 450 West Avenue: This library is named after the founder of the Warren Sewell Clothing Company, Warren P. Sewell.
  • Bowdon Station, 140 City Hall Avenue: These original LaMar Manufacturing Company buildings are now used as stores along Commerce St. and City Hall Ave. in downtown Bowdon. As these businesses are owned independently, their hours of operation may vary.
  • Sewell Bowdon Location, 152 City Hall Avenue: This men’s clothing store can be contacted at (770)258-5567 for hours of operation and pricing.

Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Bremen-Bowdon Investment Co., 141 Commerce Street: This business is privately owned and is not open to the public. The historic Bremen-Bowdon Investment Company is still in operation producing garments for the United States military. Originally, this company was opened by Warren Sewell as the manufacturing arm of his company; however, these two companies split in 2008.
  • Ava Sewell Hall, 504 West College Street: The old Bowdon High School gym was built entirely with local donations and labor in 1955 and dedicated to Ava Sewell. It can be seen on the left off College View and is still used for community events.

History


  • Photo of the Sewell Mill workers at lunch outside
    Outside for lunch at Sewell Mill. Photo courtesy: CPH Collection

Bowdon’s apparel industry began during the Depression years, after brothers Robert, Roy, and Warren Sewell moved their small clothing business from Atlanta to Bremen in 1928. In 1934, the Sewell Manufacturing Company built the first apparel plant in Bowdon.

After World War II, when Warren Sewell split from Sewell Manufacturing to establish the Warren Sewell Clothing Company, he acquired the Bowdon plant and opened the manufacturing arm of his company, the Bremen-Bowdon Investment Company (BBIC). Warren Sewell’s success greatly expanded apparel manufacturing in Bowdon. While not a traditional “company town,” the apparel industry dominated the community through the second half of the twentieth century until its peak in the 1980s.

The Sewell family controlled the west Georgia region’s apparel industry through the 1990s with their many business expansions, partnerships, and new companies. Warren Sewell’s son-in-law and daughter, Lamar and Frances Sewell Plunkett, founded LaMar Manufacturing Company in Bowdon around 1955. This company made suits for President Jimmy Carter for twenty years, from his time on the Georgia senate through his presidency in the 1970s. Each of the president’s suits were made with care and lined with fabric embellished with Carter’s initials.

The apparel industry is still active in Bowdon. In 2008, BBIC and the Warren Sewell Clothing Company split. Although many of BBIC’s original buildings are now gone, the company maintains manufacturing operations on the original site, producing garments for the U.S. military. Today, you can visit the Bowdon Area Historical Society to view a blazer worn by Carter and original apparel company photographs and documents, as well as visit many of LaMar Manufacturing’s original buildings that are now home to locally owned businesses in Bowdon Station.


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Resources to Explore

Click on the following links to learn more about this region.


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Email the Trail at wgtht@westga.edu or visit our Contact Us page for more information.

Bremen

Several textile companies called this community home, giving it the nickname “Clothing Capital of the South”. 

Known as the “Clothing Center of the South”, the Sewell Company moved operations to Bremen from Atlanta in 1928. Their success encouraged several other textile companies to emerge in this town. While production has since moved to Alabama, the Sewell Company is still very much active within the town of Bremen.


Visit


Things to Do

  • “Stitching the Fabric of Community in the West Georgia Region” Exhibit, 126 Hamilton Avenue: This indoor exhibit shares the textile story of the Sewell Family in the central west Georgia region. This space is located in Sewell Mill Events Facility & Community Center, which is open to the public by appointment only. Please contact Sewell Mill at (404) 492-4336 or sewellmillbremen@gmail.com.
  • Sewell Factory Store, 115 Atlantic Avenue: Buy a suit or check out the apparel produced by The Sewell Companies in the ground level of the Sewell Companies Building, which is home to their clothing store. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm.

Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Cluett, Peabody & Co. Building, 203 South Buchanan Street: This location is privately owned and is not open to the public. Drive by the “Arrow Plant” on South Buchanan Street. This building was the location of the Cluett, Peabody & Co. building between the late 1920s and 1991. Before Cluett came along this site was home to the first textiles in Bremen as Bremen Looms and later on as Bremen Mills.
  • Hubbard Pants Company and Georgia Converters Inc. Buildings, 119 Hamilton Avenue: This building complex served as home for the Hubbard Pants Company and its manufacturing arm, Georgia Converters Inc. from 1935-2009. In 2017, the City of Bremen purchased this location. Look for the Trail signs across the street at Sewell Mill!
  • The Ray Sewell Company Building, 300 Alabama Avenue: This multi-story brick building on Alabama Avenue served as the headquarters for The Ray Sewell Company from the 1960s through the 1980s. Currently, this location houses the Bremen office of the Georgia Vision Institute.
  • The Sewell Companies Building, 115 Atlantic Avenue: This two-story building was the headquarters and Plant No.1 for Sewell Manufacturing from 1928-2008 and is now the headquarters for The Sewell Companies. Be sure to check out the historic Art Deco sign and clock and look nearby for our interpretive signs nearby!

History


  • Aerial view of Bremen.
    Aerial view of Bremen. Photo courtesy: City of Bremen

In 1928, brothers Robert, Roy, and Warren Sewell moved their growing apparel company from Atlanta to Bremen drawn to the community by to the crossing of two railroads, the intersection of two U.S. highways, and a good supply of labor. Other clothing producers, such as New York-based Cluett, Peabody & Co., Inc., also built apparel plants in Bremen during the late 1920s. Both companies expanded operations several times in the coming decades, building plants in nearby Buchanan, Bowdon, Temple, Douglasville, and Rome, Georgia as well as Heflin, Alabama.

The success of the Sewells spawned numerous other clothing manufacturers in Bremen, including the Hubbard Pants Company (1935), Warren Sewell Clothing Company (1945), The Ray Sewell Company (1955), and the Worley-Sewell Company (1963), among others. During the industry’s peak in the 1970s, some 2,500 Bremen area residents, most of whom were women, worked in the city’s apparel plants.

During the 1980s and 1990s, most of the city’s clothing manufacturers closed due to falling profits caused by foreign competition and the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 (NAFTA). Two of the Sewell family businesses remained — Sewell Manufacturing and the Warren Sewell Clothing Company. In 2008, these companies merged as The Sewell Companies and shifted their headquarters to the “Plant Number One” building, which is part of Sewell Manufacturing Company on Pacific Avenue. Today, The Sewell Clothing Companies produces suits and military uniforms in Heflin, Alabama. These men’s suits, slacks, and sport coats can be purchased at the factory store in Bremen.


Charter Trail Members:

Resources to Explore

Click on the following links to learn more about this region.


Back to Community List

Email the Trail at wgtht@westga.edu or visit our Contact Us page for more information.

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