“The buildings are simply elegant and the machinery is of the latest style and embraces all of the modern improvements for making cotton yarn.” ― Tom Anderton on the Cherry Cotton Mill in East Florence, quoted by William McDonald in his book, Sweetwater, Yesteryears, 1990

Though the history is not always pleasant, cotton and cotton manufacturing have deep roots in Alabama. From Sweetwater Mill in Florence to the Avondale Mills in Birmingham, and the many others in between, textile manufacturing, specifically cotton textiles, have influenced our local industries and communities for decades. Ahead of our 2019 Project Threadways Symposium, this week we take a look at a few of the mills that shaped textile manufacturing throughout Alabama’s history as well present-day business founded on cotton and this rich manufacturing heritage.

The Heart: A History of Textiles (+ Community)

Remembering Sweetwater – The Mansions, the Mills, the People by William McDonald

Lowe Mill in Huntsville

Avondale Mills in Birmingham

Bell Factory in Huntsville

A look at the lives of Alabama’s mill workers, from the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society

“You Can Make It There”The Bitter Southerner on Alabama Chanin

Red Land Cotton in Moulton

2019 Project Threadways Symposium at The Factory


@ The School of Making

Join us for Third Tuesdays at The Factory on April 16 for a morning of making and fellowship.

@ The Factory Store + Café


Symposium takes place April 25th – 27th at The Factory, and tickets are available for lectures and the other special events (including a Friends of the Café Dinner featuring chef Bill Smith and a special collaboration dinner with Cheetie Kumar, Angie Mosier, and Lisa Donovan) that we have coordinated around the three days of conversation.

The images in this post depict aerial photos of Tee Jays plants in the Florence Lauderdale Industrial Park that were taken between the 1980s and 1990s.

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