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Historic Landmark Preservation Commission: Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company

Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company - south elevation

1848 factory detail (rear) and 1940 expansion, east elevation

1890 cotton warehouse and office, south elevation

1940 Jordan expansion and ca. 1950 Jordan wing

Loading dock wing, ca. 1970; Jordan wing, Sapona wing (rear), 1925, south elevation

Cotton warehouse wing, ca. 1980; Sapona wing, north elevation

Sapona wing detail, north elevation

Picker house (top) and wheel house (bottom) ca. 1885, north elevation

River dam, Deep River main (south) channel

North channel dam and mill race head

Covered bridge ca. 1846 footings

Deep River at eastern tip of Cedar Island

Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company, 1848 factory

Cedar Falls Cotton Mill, 1903

From Yearbook, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1903

Cedar Falls Covered Bridge, 1940

Showing 1848 factory and ca. 1925 Sapona wing.

1950 Jordan wing (left and 1940 Jordan expansion

Cotton warehouse, offices and railroad trestle, 1970s

Henry Branson Elliott; Elliott mansion

Top right photo ca. 1888 after house moved to Asheboro; bottom right, expanded as Central Hotel

Cedar Falls cotton warehouse workers, 1901

George Makepeace; George Henry Makepeace; Makepeace house in Franklinville

Samuel S. Jackson, superintendent after George Makepeace

Orlendo R. Cox, owner and superintendent; superintendent's house

Dr. Henry W. Jordan (left) and Sen. B. Everett Jordan (second from left)

Read the Landmark Designation Report

Read the Landmark Designation Resolution

The Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company, established in 1836 where the Deep River bends around the north and south edges of Cedar Island, was the first industrial cotton textile mill in Randolph County, and among the earliest such operations in the state. Its partially-surviving 1848 three-story brick factory building is at the core of a sprawling 146,118 square-foot manufacturing complex which exemplifies the industry that drove Randolph County’s economy, and built prosperity and community for its residents, into the 1980s. The overall 32.45-acre site encompasses two dams and a mill race that provided the factory with water power. So historically important is the site that it has been selected as home of the North Carolina Textile Museum by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Through its progressive iterations, the company and its plant passed through the hands of prominent business leaders including Jonathan Worth, the only governor of North Carolina from Randolph County, and B. Everett Jordan, the longtime U.S. Senator associated with Alamance County but born in Randolph county. It cycled in and out of association with later-established textile enterprises, including the Randolph Manufacturing Company in Franklinville, Acme-McCrary Hosiery Mills of Asheboro, and Sellers Manufacturing of Saxapahaw. Along the way, it fueled the growth and social life of the little Cedar Falls community, supporting schools, stores and churches.

Depicting the evolution of Randolph County’s first textile enterprise over 140 years and exemplary of the county’s driving industry during that period, and as a result of its association with leading county and statewide individuals and enterprises, the Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company site is of special significance in terms of its historical, architectural and cultural importance. It meets the criteria for designation as a Randolph County Historic Landmark as follows:

  • It represents a critical part of the county’s heritage, as it exemplifies both the origin and development of Randolph County’s most important industry, and its associated economic, cultural and social impact;
  • It is associated with significant persons throughout its history who have contributed to the cultural, economic, social and historical development of Randolph County, including the county’s early leading citizens, and later figures of statewide and nationwide import;
  • It represents important architecture, as it evidences the evolution of a major textile factory over almost 150 years;
  • and It represents a distinctive theme, that of the riverside textile industry, the prosperity the industry wrought and the communities it engendered.

The factory has seen multiple additions and reconfiguration over its 140 years in operation. Restorations in areas of historical significance – in particular the surviving parts of the 1848 structure – and modifications to the more recent buildings can be expected as it is developed into the textile museum. The proposed landmark designation boundaries span four tracts owned by the Randolph Heritage Conservancy: 1120 Wicker Lovell Road, Randleman, NC, which includes factory complex, the mill race and the island; the tract adjoining to the west, at 1265 Wicker Lovell, which includes the river dams; and two adjacent tracts that have no physical address. For the factory itself, the proposed designation covers only the exterior of the complex.

Related Sites:

Austin Lawrence House

Franklinsville Manufacturing Company