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Located in the heart of the Glencoe Mill Village Historic District, the Textile Heritage Museum is the only museum in the state dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of North Carolina's textile industry. It is housed in the mill's former company store and management office building, which was built around 1890 (many of the other buildings in the district were constructed between 1880 and 1882). The museum's exhibits feature hundreds or artifacts from over 50 cotton and textile mills in the state. These include weaving looms, spinning wheels, various machinery, military uniforms, office typewriters, photographs, business documents, personal accounts, and vintage mill fabric samples. The museum opened in 2002. The mill district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The Textile Heritage Museum explores the history of the textile industry in North Carolina. It is housed in the former Glencoe Mill company store and management office building.

Sky, Window, Plant, Tree

Brothers William E. (1849-1917) and James H. (1833-1897) Holt established Glencoe Mill in 1880. Their father, Edwin M. Holt (1807-1884), founded the Alamance Factory in 1837, which became the first mill in the county and the first in the South to produce plaid, dyed fabrics (at the time of its founding, there were only four cotton mills in the state). The mill was located along the Haw River, which was ideal for milling purposes.

Holt's sons (he had ten children; seven sons and three daughters) followed in his footsteps. Thomas Holt (1831-1896) joined his father at the Alamance Factory in 1850 when Edwin bought his partner's share of the business. The name of the business was also changed to E.M. Holt and Sons. Thomas had been attending business school but returned home to help run the mill. This proved to be a good development because it was Thomas who introduced the technique of dyeing yarn before turning it into cloth. Thomas was thus responsible for creating the "Alamance plaids," which became the state's most popular textile product at the time. He would later own another mill called Granite Mills and serve as governor from 1891 to 1893.

When Glencoe Mill began operations, the main building, which is the three-story structure located across the street, had 186 looms and 2,120 spindles. The weaving machines were located on the first floor, cotton was spooled and spun on the second floor, and cotton was processed further on the third floor. Cotton was then dyed and finished in other buildings. At the height of the mill's operations there were 500 workers and around half lived in the mill houses, which were rented for 50 cents a week. Men, women and children worked at the mill. By 1889, they worked six days per week, eleven hours per day. By 1905, they worked 10.5-hour days; by 1924, they worked 55-hour weeks. Although children would work at the mill, they were required to go to school a certain number of times each month. Glencoe Mill was the first mill in the state to require children to attend school. The mill first built a small school building and later replaced it with a brick structure in 1939.

In 1954, a number of factors forced Glencoe Mill to close. In the late 1940s and early 1950s it added more spindles, rebuilt the dam along the river, and enlarged the mill building. But the mill did not modernize its equipment, which made it less efficient than its competitors. It also did not transition to producing printed plaids, which is where the market had shifted to by then. Additionally, large mill corporations were buying smaller mills, allowing the corporations to produce cheaper products which increased competition for Glencoe Mill.

The mill equipment remained in the buildings until 1961 when they were sold for scrap. A company called Glencoe Carpet Mills was housed in the old mill building for a number of years beginning in the 1970s. Preservation North Carolina acquired Glencoe Mill in 1997 and began the rehabilitation process of the site. Some of the mill buildings have been converted into apartments and small businesses. The rest of the mill buildings, houses, and empty lots are in the process of being restored. A number of organizations are located at the mill including the Alamance Parks Department Northern Division and the Alamance Partnership for Children.

Glass, Brent D. "Alamance Mills." NCPedia. 2006.

"Glencoe Mill." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed July 9, 2021.

"History of the Museum's Location." Textile Heritage Museum. Accessed July 8, 2021.

Holt, Rachel. "Holt, Edwin Michael." NCPedia. 1998.

Holt, Rachel Y. "Holt, Thomas Michael." NCPedia. 1988.

Jacobs, Barry. "Glencoe Mill Village Historic District." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. February 16, 1979.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

The Historical Marker Database