Tag Archives: North Georgia Industrial Sites

Stevens Pottery Ruins, Baldwin County

Anne Chamlee made these photographs of the abandoned Stevens Pottery mill in August 1990. The rural community was named for the industry that was the largest employer in Baldwin County in the years following the Civil War.

Bill Boyd wrote in the 13 August 1992 edition of the Macon Telegraph: Henry Stevens, who grew up near pottery plants in England, worked his way to America aboard a merchant ship, landed a job as a railroad conductor and arrived in Middle Georgia in 1850. An ambitious and enterprising fellow, Stevens bought a sizable tract of timber land in the southwest corner of Baldwin County in 1854, and he discovered  “an extensive and valuable deposit of fire-clay” according to an 1895 book “Memories of Georgia”.

After putting a sawmill into operation in that area, he built kilns and began to produce the first sewerage pipe ever produced in the South. The plant also turned out pottery and stoneware. During the Civil War, Stevens’s plant produced “knives, shoepegs and Joe Brown pipes” for the confederacy according to the history book. And, because of that General William T. Sherman burned the plant to the ground in 1864. Stevens rebuilt the plant after the war and sold it to his sons in 1876. By the turn of the century, the Stevens plant employed some 300 people and produced only brick.

The late T. L. Wood recalled in a 1984 interview with the Associated Press that Stevens Pottery acquired a reputation as a rough-and-tumble town where shootings and stabbings were commonplace at night and on weekends. “My mother wouldn’t let me go down there when I was a kid.” he said. But when he grew up, Wood, like many residents of Stevens Pottery and Coopers worked there for at least a while, and he remembered the plant as a “dirty, dusty, crude-looking place, (where) the work was hard- hauling brick in wheelbarrows and things like that.” Wood escaped the hard labor in the plant by operating a general store; and getting the town’s post office located in his store. But others stayed with the hard work and long hours, and as late as the 1950s, a person could work all of the overtime he or she wanted as the plant turned out brick for the booming sugar refineries in Cuba.



Filed under --BALDWIN COUNTY GA--, Stevens Pottery GA

Cotton Warehouse, 1890s, Sparta

Built as a cotton warehouse in the 1890s, this structure was best known throughout most of its history as the Sparta Furniture Manufacturing Company. Suzy and Robert Currey bought it in 2012 and have transformed it into Sparta Mushrooms, with numerous specialty varieties being grown and distributed regularly to restaurants in Atlanta and Athens.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--, Sparta GA

Dundee Mills, Griffin

This is but one section of the large complex best remembered as Dundee Mills, which began operations in Griffin in the 1880s and was still in business into the present century.

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Filed under --SPALDING COUNTY GA--, Griffin GA

Starr’s Mill, 1907, Fayette County

A grist mill was first established here in 1825  by Hananiah Gilcoat. Whitewater Creek was less than a mile from the Creek Nation and the area was a frontier at the time. The mill changed hands numerous times over the first few decades of its existence until it was purchased by Hilliard Starr in 1866.  In the 13 years that Starr operated the mill, he made a lasting impression on the surrounding community, which would come to bear his name.

The present mill, the third to be sited on the mill foundation at Whitewater Creek, was built by William T. Glower to replace its predecessor which was destroyed by a fire. By this time, the mill was also powering a sawmill and a dynamo which powered nearby Senoia. The mill was operational until 1959.



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Filed under --FAYETTE COUNTY GA--, Starr's Mill GA

W. A. Brannon Store (1894) & Moreland Knitting Mills (1904), Moreland

The two-story building on the right was the W. A. Brannon Mercantile, built in 1894 by R. D. Cole of Newnan. On the left is the Moreland Knitting Mill, built in 1904 as a cotton warehouse. An alley originally separated the two buildings but they were connected by the middle building (with square canopy) in 1937. Brannon sold the old warehouse for use as a knitting mill in 1920, which was originally known as Moreland Hosiery Mills (1920-1927) and later operated as Moreland Knitting Mills (1927-1968).


National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --COWETA COUNTY GA--, Moreland GA

Gallant-Belk Building, Hartwell

The Gallant-Belk department store was located on the first floor of this building and the Hartwell Garment Company, a sewing factory, operated upstairs. It’s an antique store today.

Hartwell Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --HART COUNTY GA--, Hartwell GA

Deconstruction of Crystal Springs Bleachery, Chickamauga

The Bowen-Jewell Bag Company first opened a bleachery across from the Central of Georgia Depot in 1909. A cotton mill was added in 1914 and the business was incorporated as the Crystal Springs Bleachery Company. A larger more modern bleachery was constructed in 1923, making the facility one of the largest employers in the region. The main product of the bleachery was printed cotton fabric, primarily in the form of bags. Dan River Mills purchased the business in 1969 and by 1976 had a peak employment of 1200. Downsizing began in 1977 and by 1982, Dan River announced plans to close the facility. In February 1983, former Chickamauga mayor Frank Pierce, Steve Tarvin and Stanley Cunningham purchased the business and saved about 200 jobs. Downsizing continued over the following decades and the business, by now known as the Crystal Springs Print Works, was shuttered in 2013. Even with a reputation as one of the best printers in the business, Crystal Springs is emblematic of the loss of U. S. textile business to China; whether that’s the fault of bureaucratic regulation or cheaper labor remains a topic of debate. Having grown up in a town with hundreds of textile jobs myself, the reason isn’t as important as the loss of a way of life. Chickamauga was unusual in that local investors did their best to keep it afloat, and that deserves some recognition.

The property was sold to a recovery company, which is slowly removing the valuable heart pine floors and other framework, handmade bricks, and salvageable historic fixtures and metal. A residential community is planned for the site in the future.





Filed under --WALKER COUNTY GA--, Chickamauga GA

Commercial Block, Mansfield

mansfield ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing north georgia usa 2016

I’m not sure what this structure originally served as, but it’s now occupied by Air Power, Inc., a leading distributor of specialized industrial equipment. The building has been nicely restored.

Ava Campbell writes: [It was the] Pacific Uniform plant in the 50’s and 60’s if I’m remembering correctly. It employed many women from the area inc. Newborn, Shady Dale and Covington.


Filed under --NEWTON COUNTY GA--, Mansfield GA

Toccoa Casket Company

Toccoa Casket Company GA Coffin Mold Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

The mold seen above is about all that remains to indicate that this was once home to one of the biggest industries in town and the state’s leading manufacturer of caskets. They were also the largest supplier of caskets to the U. S. military until the Vietnam War.

Toccoa Casket Company GA Stephens County Abandoned Factory For Sale Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

The Toccoa Casket Company was an iconic local business throughout most of the 20th century and when I was in town photographing the Schaefer Center for the Fox Theatre Institute last year, local officials suggested I go out and make a few shots, as the place was abandoned and for sale. There was a good deal of vandalism at the site and I must admit it was just a bit creepy wandering around the abandoned factory buildings.

Toccoa Casket Company GA Iconic Local Industry Abandoned Coffin Factory Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

The Display Room was where different models of caskets were shown to potential buyers.

Toccoa Casket Company GA Display Room Entrance Vandalism Famous Local Industry Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

The work spaces of the old factory  are just a cluttered mess today.

Toccoa Casket Company Spooky Abandoned Warehouse GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Toccoa Casket Company GA Local Industry Abandoned Coffin Factory Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014


Filed under --STEPHENS COUNTY GA--, Toccoa GA