Off and Running!

In August 2012, I wrote a blog post called “Green Light! Go!” which was news about the Loray Mills redevelopment project receiving funding for the project to happen. About once a month, I check the Charlotte Observer and Gaston Gazette for news on the status of the mill and was tickled pink to discover that the project is actually underway.  The money is available, plans are made and the kickoff happened on Tuesday,  April 9, 2013.  Plans include retail space, restaurant space, a textile museum and 190 lofts/apartments.

Gaston Gazette article

Charlotte Observer article

There were already some changes being made to the building when Ted and I went by there in February 2013.  The old guard house in front of the tower entrance had been torn down and just that little bit of work did wonders for the look of the building.  We also had snow the day before and some of it still hadn’t melted from the yard, so I finally had some snow pictures of a mill.

Loray Mill entrance 10/2006

Loray Mill entrance 10/2006

This is the front of the mill with the old guard house in front, taken in 2006.  Below is the front of the mill now with the guard house torn down.

Loray Mill tower entrance, 2013

Loray Mill tower entrance, 2013

During the photo shoot back in January 2006, the one place I couldn’t get to see were the front doors of the building itself.  I had to brace the camera lens through the chain link fence to photograph the front door.

entrance2006In the above shot, you can see the sign for the Franklin Mill Development sales office.  A developer had tried a year or so before then to redevelop the Loray into loft apartments.  Ted and I had gone to see the apartment model and it was gorgeous!  Sadly, it didn’t happen.  Below, is the front door through the tower entrance without the guard house.

entrance2013I’m so glad to see this old mill being given a chance to be re-purposed.  I’ve been inside this building and though there is a lot of work that needs to be done, a lot of it is structurally sound, right down to the beams.  They literally don’t make buildings like this anymore.  It’s survived a century and if given a chance, it will last another century beyond this, and will help give a fresh start to the mill village around it.  I’ll be visiting the site again to photograph her during the renovations.  I can’t wait to see what she’ll look like when they’re done!

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Up In Flames

Gastonia, North Carolina, is a small city that is rich in textile history and a favorite place for me to go searching for textile mills to photograph. Sadly, there’s one I didn’t know of and thus never had a chance to look for and add to my files. While checking for articles on the progress with the Loray Mill, I came across the headlines…

Firefighters battle blaze, Gaston Gazette

Charlotte Observer article

I’ve researched it as being referred to as both the Mutual Mill and the Hanes Brands Mill, and according to the Gastona Gazette article, it was built approximately 1917, primarily used for spinning yarn and closed down in 2008 according to the article.  The second article I posted from the Charlotte Observer gives much more detail on the building’s history.  Curious as to what it looked like before, I did a Google Map search and was  able to get an idea.  It’s a one-story warehouse building with no unusual features to it, not even a smoke stack.  I did notice there were a number of small mill village houses across the street from it and I hope the people living there are doing okay.

EDIT:  The fire continued into Sunday and they hope to have it contained by Sunday afternoon.  The Gaston Gazette had additional articles on the damage.  The good news is no one was injured and the surrounding homes are okay.

Additional information on mill fire

Green Light! Go!!

In 1999, we were trying to convince my mother to move from Florida and up to North Carolina where she’d be closer to us, and during one of her visits, we toured various small towns around the Charlotte area.  We took her to Gastonia, and while driving around looking at houses, we found ourselves in the west side of Gastonia and could see a large red  brick building off of Highway 74.  Sometime later, we came back to check out the building, the Loray Mill, also known as the Firestone Mill.  This was the building that sparked my interest in photography, architecture, mills and textile history.  I was even one of the lucky photographers that was given access to the building and explored several of its floors.

Loray Mill, Gastonia, NC, October 2006

For years, Preservation North Carolina, Gaston County Historic  Preservation Commission and various folks interested in saving the mill have been trying to get the funding to begin renovations, transforming the abandoned structure into a combination of lofts and shops while preserving its history. As of the end of June, 2012, they received the good news that the renovation had a green light to start (http://www.gastongazette.com/articles/mill-72596-federal-loray.html). I couldn’t believe what I was reading!  Oh yes, I was excited to hear of this   🙂

I’ll post more about the Loray Mill in a future blog, but I didn’t want to let this news linger for too long.  Ted and I will periodically head over to Gastonia to see and photograph the progress as we can; I, for one, am anxious to see the project  happen and this grand old mill restored.  Congratulations to Lucy, Preservation NC and all the others working behind the scenes to save this historical building.  I’m sure if mills could speak, it would thank you.