Saturday, November 05, 2005

As An Addendum To Jerry

Jerry, at From On High has this post today. Very powerful writing that I won't even attempt to condense here, just go read it for yourself.

I do, however want to add a couple of pictures to go along with his story. At the right is the now closed Fieldcrest Mills plant in Fieldale. Benjamin Franklin Mebane originally founded Fieldcrest in 1898 in the area of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper North Carolina now consolidated into the city of Eden. In 1910 Mr. Mebane was undergoing hard financial times and sold the mill to Marshall Field and Company, which renamed the company as Fieldcrest Mills.

In 1919 Marshall Field built the core of the mill you see here. In 1927 Marshall Field bought a large acreage in what is now Fieldale in Henry County and established a hunting lodge. The town of Fieldale grew around this mill and enjoyed the business of important visitors to the hunting lodge. Fieldale was growing so swiftly that the first paved road in Henry County was that portion of SR 57 that runs from Fieldale to Martinsville.

Fieldcrest Mills eventually bought Cannon Mills and was in turn bought by Pillowtex. In 2003 Pillowtex filed for bankruptcy and closed all operations, not just the Fieldale mill.

From the July 30, 2003 Martinsville Bulletin;

In an already depressed local market, jobless workers, car repossessions, mortgage defaults and personal bankruptcies are real threats, said Hairston.

And the impact of the plant's closing is not limited to employees.

A stone's throw up Field Avenue from the mill is Fieldale Community Center. The center, which also is home to some Fieldale Elementary School classes, drew many of its resources from Fieldcrest, getting maintenance help, electricity, water, chemicals for pool treatment and other supplies from the mill, said Director Buster Ferguson. Ferguson added that he does not see how the center can survive the loss of those resources.

Across the street from the community center are Fieldale Grocery & Grill and Teresa's School of Baton and Dance.

Noted for its chicken and dumplings, Fieldale Grocery & Grill did 35 percent of its business with Fieldcrest employees, said store owner Denton Boardwine.

Our next picture is the really sad sight of the J.D. Bassett Manufacturing Company plant in downtown Bassett in the midst of demolition. This demolition has been ongoing in fits and starts for about two years now.

An interesting story I have heard, but can’t verify is that a company in England originally contracted to demolish the plant, partially in exchange for the wooden posts and beams in some of the original parts of the plant. It was assumed they were chestnut, or at least mostly so with the remaining wood being red oak. Obviously the salvage value would be great. The wood turned out to be mostly poplar with a smattering of white oak and the English company just withdrew back to England.

Next we have the original Bassett-Walker Knitting Plant.. Originally the Virginia Underwear Company, it was opened in 1928 by Sam Walker. Later, the Bassett family, looking to find employment for the wives of the men employed at the furniture factories, worked with Sam to create Bassett-Walker Knitting. Later sold to Vanity Fair, the company folded in 2001.

While researching this I came upon some other interesting stuff. Look for a future post (I'll try to have it together by tomorrow) that will expand upon this information.

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