Loray Mill, Gastonia, Gaston County, NC
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Documentation compiled after 1968.
Survey number HAER NC-45
Significance: Loray Mill Historic District, consisting of the Loray Mill and its surrounding village, is a nationally significant example of textile mill construction and technological innovation in the South during the early twentieth century. Loray Mill's significance stems from both the design and technology of the mill, and the links between textile industry development and labor history. Lockwood, Greene Engineers of Boston, Massachusetts, a nationally-prominent engineering firm, designed the original mill and village structures in 1901. Stuart Cramer, a pioneer in the development of air conditioning, installed an early experimental system at Loray Mill in 1908. After acquisition by Jenckes Spinning Co. of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the mill and village were expanded in 1921 and 1922. At this time, Loray Mill was converted from production of cloth sheeting to tire fabric, an important new product needed by the growing automobile industry. The most well-known event at Loray, the famous Communist-led 1929 strike, was linked to the "stretch out" and other labor cost-saving practices resulting from the efficiency studies commissioned by the Manville-Jenckes Co. in 1927-28. The strike and the trials for the murder of Police Chief Orville Aderholt and striking mill worker Ella Mae Wiggins attracted international attention. These events centered around Loray Mill represent an extraordinary episode in the history of the labor movement in the United States. Although some features of the mill and surrounding worker housing have been altered, the Loray Mill village retains a high level of historic integrity. The main period of significance for Loray Mill is 1901 to 1935, which encompasses the years of construction and expansion for the mill and village, the 1929 strike, and purchase by Firestone in 1935.
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)
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