2108 South Blvd., Charlotte
The Atherton Mill was built in 1893 as the Atherton Cotton Mills to produce cotton goods. It was the first mill established by the D. A. Tompkins Company under the leadership of Daniel Augustus Tompkins, one of the most well-known textile industrialists in the South.
Tompkins played a role in building 100 cotton mills and support industries. He also established the Charlotte Daily Observer (now the Charlotte Observer), wrote books like Cotton Mill: Commercial Features (1899), which set the standards for mill housing designs and offered plans to help towns attract textile mills, and helped establish college textile programs at North Carolina State University and Clemson University in South Carolina.
The Atherton Cotton Mills was the first industrial property in a planned factory district in Dilworth and its construction reflected the state of the emerging textile industry in the South. In 1893, it housed 5,000 spindles manufacturing yarn goods and just three years later, in 1896, operations were expanded to 10,000 spindles.
The mill operated until 1933. The complex was then vacant until 1937, when it was taken over by J. Schoenith Company Inc., makers of candy, baked goods, and peanut products. The company operated there until the 1960s. There were a few tenants from the 1960s to the late-1990s, but it wasn’t until it was renovated in 2000 that it became a thriving mixed-use development that includes condominiums, retailers, and restaurants.
The building still retains much of its original architecture and, as a testament to its history, there are plaques on the walls of the historic building that highlight the stories of the men who worked for the mill and helped develop the South End.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition