Photo Friday – Lenoir City Cotton Mill

The Lenoir City Cotton Mill was one of several mills built on Town Creek at Lenoir’s Station by Major William B. Lenoir, the founder of Lenoir City. Lenoir came from North Carolina in 1810 and the cotton mill was built ca. 1821 for the manufacture of cotton yarns and batting. During the Civil War, the Union army burned the Lenoirs’ general store and railroad depot, because the Lenoirs were Confederate sympathizers.  The mill was threatened until Dr. Benjamin Ballard Lenoir moved among the Union army giving a secret Masonic handshake. The mill was spared and continued to operate as a cotton mill until the late nineteenth century. The Holston Manufacturing Company originated in the building, but later moved to the Bacon Hosiery Mill site. Then the mill was converted into a flour mill which operated until the 1950s. Because it was an early unique example of industrial architecture, the cotton mill was included in the Historic American Buildings Survey and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The Lenoir Cotton Mill Association was formed in 1980 by interested citizens and the American Studies Class at Lenoir City High School. The organization raised over $100,000 to stabilize and restore the historic structure, but it was burned by arsonists in 1991 destroying ten years of preservation efforts. A revised plan to continue the restoration was rejected by the Lenoir City Council, however the LCMA has preserved the mill ruins and are in the process in developing an interactive historic park. The site has now been placed on the “Walking Tour” of the historic sites in downtown Lenoir City.

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