Orange County, North Carolina historic information cache - the Bellevue Cotton Mill
The Bellevue Cotton Mill
 
The Bellevue (intitially spelled "Belle-vue") Manufacturing Company, located in west Hillsborough, was incorporated in 1904. The original two-story mill building (with a one-story wing to the west) was built sometime between 1907 and 1909, and was run by belt-driven machinery fueled by steam power. In 1920 a one-story weaving room was built to the north of the original mill building, and an office was built to its east. In 1923 a second story was added to the weaving room, an addition was built at the west end of the original mill building, and a two-story cloth building was built on Nash Street (which was demolished circa 2005). Between 1919 and 1926 the mill was converted to electric power.

Shepherd Strudwick, Sr. was its first president, and was president until 1929. For many years T. Norfleet Webb was secretary and treasurer. After 1929, L.E. Beard was president and treasurer. In 1911 the mill was operating with 5000 spindles and 200 narrow looms and was manufacturing ginghams; by 1924 it was producing ginghams and cheviots.
 
The Bellevue Cotton Mill, view northeast; circa 1920
The Bellevue Cotton Mill, view northeast; circa 1920
 
Local ownership and control of the mill ended in 1945, when it was purchased by Hesslein and Company. After its purchase by Hesslein and Company, more than a half million dollars was spent in improvements to the mill. The improvements included new penning and picking machines, new carding machines, new drawing and spinning frames, a new boiler plant, a new lighting system, and the installation of white tiled washrooms.


The Bellevue Cotton Mill, view west; 1950s
The Bellevue Cotton Mill, view west; 1950s


In the 1950s, the plant manufactured ginghams and related fabrics. In 1953, the mill employed 355 workers, 225 of whom were men. Also in the 1950s, the mill ran two shifts, and a few of the looms operated a third shift.

Hesslein was succeeded by Saratoga Knitting Mills. During the Vietnam War, the mill produced mosquito netting for the military. In the 1960s it was "Hillsboro Mills," and "Falk, Fibers, and Fabrics" in the 1970's. In 1987, it was acquired by Flynt Fabrics and was known as "Stokes County Yarn Company-Hillsborough Industries"; the mill closed in 2000.


(Much of the above was taken for the most part verbatim from Orange County 1752-1952, edited by Hugh Lefler and Paul Wager, published in 1953 by the Orange Printshop, Chapel Hill; additional information was taken from the 2003 "Bellevue Manufacturing Company" National Register of Historical Places registration form and from the 1911 and 1924 Sanborn maps.)
 
<image> Sanborn Insurance map of Hillsborough for 1911, showing mill Sanborn Insurance map of Hillsborough for 1911, showing mill (click on image to enlarge)
 
<image> Sanborn Insurance map of Hillsborough for 1924, showing mill and village Sanborn Insurance map of Hillsborough for 1924, showing mill and village (click on image to enlarge)
 
<image> Sanborn Insurance map of Hillsborough for 1943, showing mill and village Sanborn Insurance map of Hillsborough for 1943, showing mill and village (click on image to enlarge)
 
 
The Bellevue Cotton Mill, view north; circa 1970
The Bellevue Cotton Mill, view north; circa 1970


In 2003, the "Bellevue Manufacturing Company" was added to the National Register of Historical Places as Building #03000858. It was going to be redeveloped into condominiums (2007), then into apartments (2009), but both projects were abandoned; however, there are once again plans to develop it.
 
Bellevue Cotton Mill floorplan, 2002
Bellevue Cotton Mill schematic drawing, drawn in 2002
 
Bellevue Cotton Mill, 2007
The approximate outline of the original mill, 2007
 
 
 
[Created 2007; Last updated: 17 February 2013]
 
 

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