SURVEY AND RESEARCH REPORT
The John B. Ross and Company Mill
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as
the John B. Ross and Company Mill is located at 1000 Seaboard Street,
Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC.
2. Name and address of the present owner of the
Fiber Mills LLC
c/o Richard Lazes
18301 Mandrain Point Drive
Cornelius, NC 28031
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. Maps depicting the location of the property:
This report contains a map depicting the location of the property.
5. UTM coordinate: 17S 3899614.0N 514075.5E
6. Current deed book and tax parcel information for the property:
The Tax Parcel Number is of the property is 078-425-01. The most
recent reference to this property is recorded in Mecklenburg Deed Book
12331, page 666.
7. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report
contains a brief historical sketch of the property.
8. A brief architectural description of the property: This
report contains a brief architectural description of the property.
9. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets
criteria for designation set forth in N. C. G. S. 160A-400.5:
Special significance in terms of its history, architecture, and/or
cultural importance: The property known as the John B. Ross and
Company Mill does possess special significance in terms of
Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This judgment is based on the following
The John B. Ross and Company Mill is significant for its
contribution to the industrial strength of Charlotte, NC throughout the
first half of the twentieth century.
As an example of an early twentieth century cotton mill that was
easily converted into an asbestos textile mill, the complex is
particularly important as the location of the Southern Asbestos Company,
a regional leader in terms of production, employee numbers, and numbers
of spindles and looms.
As one of the earliest textile mills in Charlotte, NC that has a
high degree of integrity where so many comparable buildings have been
significantly altered or entirely demolished.
b. Integrity of
design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling and/or association:
The John B. Ross and Company Mill has had many additions over the years,
but each addition is identifiable, and other than the replacement of
windows, each section retains integrity and character pertaining to the
10. Ad Valorem tax
Commission is aware that designation would allow the owner to apply for
an automatic deferral of 50% of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any
portion of the property which becomes a designated "historic landmark."
The current total tax value of the building and features is
$6,825,200.00. The current tax value of the lot is $967,400.00. The
current total value is $7,792,600.00.
11. Portion of property recommended for designation: The
exterior of the building and the property associated with the tax parcel
are recommended for historic designation.
Date of preparation of this report: June 10, 2011
Prepared by: Logan I. Ferguson, Powers & Company, Inc.
Summary Statement of Significance
The John B. Ross and Company Mill, located at 1000
Seaboard Street in Charlotte, NC, was built in stages from 1904 through
the 1950s with minor additions in the 1960’s.
The factory began as a mill producing cotton bags
and ties, but for most of its history, it was used for the production of
asbestos textile products by the Southern Asbestos Manufacturing
Company, a major supplier of fireproof cloth products. The John B. Ross
and Company Mill is significant for its important contribution to the
industrial strength of Charlotte, NC throughout the first half of the
twentieth century. As an example of an early twentieth century cotton
mill that was easily converted into an asbestos textile mill, the
complex is particularly important as the location of the Southern
Asbestos Company, a regional leader in terms of production, employee
numbers, and numbers of spindles and looms.
Contextual Statement: Early Textile
Manufacturing Growth in Charlotte, NC
Although the cotton mill industry in Mecklenburg
County dates back to the early nineteenth century, it was not until 1880
that the first successful textile mill was established in Charlotte.
R.M. and D.W. Oates built the Charlotte Cotton Mills at that time with
seventy workers tending to 6,240 spindles.
The railroad lines helped to shape Charlotte’s
growth as a major textile-manufacturing hub, allowing for the
distribution and delivery of raw and finished goods. By 1876 the
rail lines that were in place before the Civil War radiated in six
directions, stretching north to Richmond, VA, and beyond, south to
Atlanta, GA, and both east and west to connect Charlotte to all of the
Consequently, Charlotte became the meeting point of the Southern and
Seaboard rail systems. Southern Railways was formulated in 1894
and consolidated four of the six rail lines that passed through
Charlotte; in 1900, Seaboard Air Line Railroad purchased the remaining
Many cotton mills were constructed in the Charlotte
area in the late nineteenth century, including the Alpha Cotton Mill,
the Ada Cotton Mill, the Victor Cotton Mill (all in 1888-89), Highland
Park Manufacturing Company No. 1 (1891), the Atherton Cotton Mills
(1892), the Louise Cotton Mills (1897), and the Magnolia Cotton Mill
(1899). By 1900, Mecklenburg County had sixteen
textile mills with a total of 94,392 spindles and 1,456 looms, which
made it the second largest textile-manufacturing county in the State
after Gaston County.
The rapid growth of the textile manufacturing
industry of Charlotte was representative of the New South
industrialization that occurred after Reconstruction. In Charlotte, the
transition from agriculture to industry was championed by Daniel
Augustus Tompkins (1852-1914), a pioneering industrialist and civic
booster who played a “pivotal role in transforming Charlotte from a
small market town into the leading center of textile production in the
Tompkins also founded the D.A. Tompkins Company and between 1884 and
1910, helped build over 100 cotton mills, 250 cotton oil mills, and 150
electric light plants.
Mill construction flourished in the Charlotte area
during the first two decades of the early twentieth century. By
1902, there were three hundred mills in operation within 100 miles of
According to Charlotte City Directories, in 1900 Charlotte was home to
fifty-seven industrial plants; by 1910 that number was up to 108. The
directories do not specify exactly how many of these plants were
specifically related to textile production. Many of Charlotte’s historic
industrial buildings, like the John B. Ross and Company Mill, were
erected in the neighborhood of Uptown Charlotte, as the heavy industry
and warehouses relocated away from the city center during this period of
unprecedented industrial growth.
Mecklenburg County’s manufacturing plants continued to multiply during
the 1910s. By 1920, Mecklenburg County was home to 127
manufacturers, 111 of which were located in Charlotte.
Four years later, the number of manufacturing and industrial plants had
increased to 200, the majority of which were textile-related. In 1920,
the U.S. Census reported that in Mecklenburg County there were 6,242
people involved in general manufacturing with a production value of
In comparison, there were 4,344 people involved in agriculture with a
production value of $7,805,676.
Such a differential clearly illustrates the shift in significance from
agriculture to manufacturing and the increased importance of textile
mills throughout the county.
B. Ross and Company Mill: A Brief Building History
The John B. Ross and Company Mill comprises two
associated mill buildings joined by a narrow bridge structure. The
complex has been expanded incrementally over the last hundred years,
reflecting the growth of the asbestos industry.
In 1904, local manufacturer, developer, and
businessman John B. Ross of John B. Ross & Company constructed the first
building on the site as a textile mill to produce cotton bags and cotton
ties on Seaboard Street in Charlotte. This building (extant) was originally known
as the Main Mill, and later as Mill #1 of the Southern Asbestos Company
Mills complex. As shown on the 1905 Sanborn map, this 1-story
brick building was sited at an angle to make use of its own railroad
spur off of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad for the delivery of coal.
Other buildings on the site in 1904 included a small brick office
building, two square frame storage sheds, and a freestanding water
Throughout the 1910s, the Main Mill (Mill #1)
functioned as a cotton textile mill for John B. Ross & Company. In
1911, the complex included a small office and shed along the southern
edge of the property abutting Seaboard Street, two tile sheds northwest
of the Main Mill, a frame tile-making building at the north end of the
property, and a water tank and a small shed directly west of the Main
Mill. The 1911 Sanborn map notes the internal layout of the John
B. Ross Bag & Tie Factory’s Main Mill (Mill #1): carding at the
northernmost end, spinning in the middle of the building and weaving at
the south end, closest to Seaboard Street. The Main Mill (Mill #1) is
the only building of the 1911 complex that is still standing.
Beginning in 1920, Southern Asbestos Manufacturing
occupied the John B. Ross & Company complex and manufactured a complete
line of asbestos yarns and textiles.
Soon after the Southern Asbestos Manufacturing Company moved into the
complex, new buildings were constructed on the site. The existing
warehouses were torn down and two new warehouses known as Warehouses #1
and #2 were built.
A building permit from 1920 granted to John B. Ross for the Southern
Asbestos Manufacturing Company allowed for the construction of a 50’ by
60’ one-room brick building adjacent to Mill #1.
This small building was likely Warehouse #2; it was a square building
with a gabled roof that stood to the west of Mill #1. Warehouse
#1, another 1-story brick building with a gabled roof, was attached to
the southern wall of Warehouse #2. Both warehouses first appear on the
1924 drawing of the site from Drummond’s Pictorial Atlas. The
warehouses are extant on the 1953-1959 Sanborn map, but they had been
demolished by 2001, when the current owner purchased the property.
By 1924, Southern Asbestos Manufacturing Company
had enlarged Mill #1 in three different places: the south end featured a
large brick addition, which created an L-shaped footprint, the north end
featured two new small brick buildings, and a dust shed and a dust
collector were also added to the east elevation. Southern Asbestos
Manufacturing Company also constructed Mill #2 (extant) by 1924, a
second 1-story brick factory building that stands at an angle to the
Mill #2 was constructed to match the style of Mill #1 with segmental
arched window openings, a low-pitched gable roof, and wide overhanging
cornice with exposed rafter tails. A small bridge section was also built
to provide internal access between the two mills.
In early January 1928, the plant was legally
conveyed from John B. Ross & Company to Southern Asbestos Manufacturing
This date corresponds with the year that the Southern Asbestos
Manufacturing Company was officially reorganized into the Southern
The following year, in April 1929, the Thermoid Company of Trenton, NJ,
purchased a controlling interest in the Southern Asbestos Company, but
the firms that occupied the buildings at 100 Seaboard Street continued
to operate as the Southern Asbestos Company.
According to the Sanborn maps, sometime between
1929 and c.1946, a 1-story storage building was constructed to the north
of the dust collector near Mill #1. The building appears on the
1953-1959 Sanborn map, and had been demolished by 2001, when the current
owners purchased the property.
During the 1940s and early 1950s, prominent mill
architect R. C. Biberstein (1859-1931) was retained by the Southern
Asbestos Company to improve the interior of Mill #1 and possibly make
additions to the existing plant that corresponds to those 1946 sections
noted on Sanborn Maps.
According to a 1941 drawing by R. C. Biberstein, the 1904 portion of the
first floor of Mill #1 was altered to accommodate fourteen carding
This is in keeping with the 1929 Sanborn map, which described the area
as a “Preparation Building” where carding would have taken place as one
of the primary stages of textile production. The 1941 drawing also
illustrated two new fans: the Buffalo Forge 55 and the American Blower
70. These blowers led directly into the large dust collectors on the
east side of the building. Biberstein’s 1951 drawings for the same
area in Mill #1 replaced the carding machines with blending feeders on
the first floor and also situated blending and cotton pickers in the
According to the Sanborn maps, in 1946 Mill #1 also
received a modern brick addition off of the east elevation of the c.1920
addition. A large metal shed containing machinery for a dust
collector was also added to the east elevation of Mill #1 by c.1955.
This addition replaced the dust shed and collector that is visible on
the Drummond’s 1924 Pictorial Atlas of North Carolina. Sanborn
maps show that Mill #2 was significantly expanded in phases beginning in
c.1946 with a large 2-story brick addition off of the north end of the
building and various drying and service rooms of off the west elevation
During the 1960s, a number of additions were made
to the complex by the owner at the time, H.K. Porter and Company Inc.,
the parent company of Southern Textile Corporation (formerly Southern
Asbestos Company). These included the large grade-level addition
constructed off of the north elevation of Mill #2. Additionally,
the bridge section was enlarged on the south side with the construction
of a tall 2-story brick nondescript unfenestrated service area. A
small 1-story red brick electrical building, constructed in c.1960
directly north of Mill #1, was demolished in 2005.
Very few changes were made to the buildings during
the 1980s and 1990s after Southern Textile Corporation sold the facility
in 1983 to Southern Manufacturing Company, Inc., another asbestos
Various asbestos textile manufacturing companies
utilized the mills at 1000 Seaboard Street until 2001, when the property
was sold to Fiber Mills, LLC, a local developer. This same year,
the property was recognized by the State of North Carolina as a
Brownfields Project. Over the last few years, extensive asbestos
decontamination and mitigation was performed on the inside and outside
of the John B. Ross and Company Mill to meet environmental requirements.
The present owner has begun to rehabilitate the buildings for conversion
to art galleries, music recording studios, and other arts and music
related uses. The rehabilitation work completed to date includes
the addition of a performance stage and awning attached to the section
adjacent to the existing bridge; landscaping of the courtyard space
between Mills #1 and #2; new aluminum-clad windows; interior
improvements to the upper level of Mill #1, such as refinishing floors,
removing flaking paint from columns and ceilings, and general cleaning;
and installation of contemporary offices into the upper level of Mill
B. Ross and Company Mill: Significance in Industry
From 1920 to 1957, the John B. Ross and Company
Mill, then known as the Southern Asbestos Company Mills, was the largest
producer of asbestos textiles, yarn, thread and cord in Mecklenburg
County and provided an important source of employment, income and
industry to Charlotte and the surrounding area. Locally, the John B.
Ross and Company Mill is a significant contributor to the success of
Charlotte’s textile industry. While the John B. Ross and Company
Mill is unique in the area because of the affiliation with the asbestos
industry, the inner workings of the plant essentially functioned in the
same way and with very similar machinery as other textile mills in
Charlotte. Consequently, the label of “textile mill” is entirely
appropriate and the John B. Ross and Company Mill can be evaluated
within the context of other Charlotte textile mills, not only other
Brief History of
the Southern Asbestos Company
The John B. Ross and
Company was incorporated in 1903 in Charlotte, NC. John B. Ross was the
President, Joseph R. Ross was the Vice President and T.H. Ross was the
Shortly thereafter, the company began their construction of their plant
at Seaboard Street and opened in 1904 with seventy-five employees and
ten looms. By 1907, the company had $35,000 in capital stock and 180
employees. The employees worked eleven hours per day and 306 days per
The company primarily
manufactured cotton bags, which were bags in which cotton was packed for
shipping to textile mills. These bags were typically made of jute, which
was a stronger fiber and therefore particularly durable for these
purposes. A 1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map also states that the company
manufactured cotton ties, which were used for binding the cotton before
it was placed in the bags.
The company ceased
operation in 1920, at which time the buildings were occupied by the
Southern Asbestos Manufacturing Company. By 1924, the John B. Ross and
Company formally sold them the buildings.
Brief History of
the Southern Asbestos Company
The Southern Asbestos
Manufacturing Company was organized in 1919 in Charlotte, NC, and
Lincolnton, NC, with a capital stock of $300,000 and the intention of
producing asbestos yarn and cloth using mineral deposits in western
The company was founded by Captain Charles Eben Childs, who served as
the first president and treasurer. W.H. Truesdell, a former
factory superintendent of the General Asbestos and Rubber Company of
Charleston, SC, became the vice president and manager of the company and
W.K. Medernach was the first superintendent and secretary.
These three men remained the management team for nearly a decade.
In 1920, they began operations in the complex that had originated as the
John B. Ross Cotton Bag Factory at 1000 Seaboard Street in Charlotte.
In late January 1928, the Southern Asbestos
Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated and renamed Southern
This reorganization was made possible by the increase of the company’s
profits from $110,000 in 1926 to $164,000 in 1927 to $354,000 in 1928.
By 1928, W.H. Truesdell had become the president of the firm.
This was also the year in which the factory was legally conveyed to the
Southern Asbestos Manufacturing Company, which occurred prior to the
The following year, in April 1929, the Thermoid
Company of Trenton, NJ, purchased a controlling interest in the Southern
With this purchase, the Thermoid Company, one of the largest
manufacturers of brake linings for automobiles and industrial machinery
in the United States became the “second largest earning [asbestos]
property in the country.”
The Southern Asbestos Company was acquired to supply asbestos products
internally to Thermoid Company, which required a steady supply of
asbestos yarn and cloth in the manufacture of its break linings and
The New York Times reported in 1929 that the Southern
Asbestos plant was “thoroughly modern and its location in Charlotte, NC,
insures an adequate supply of low cost labor.”
The Thermoid Company also manufactured such items as clutch rings,
rubber belting and hose, universal joint discs, and asbestos packing.
By 1935, the
Thermoid Company also owned the Thermoid Textile Company and the Woven
Steel Hose and Rubber Company and had operations throughout the United
States and Canada. Thermoid’s chief clients included
the Ford Motor Company, the General Electric Company and the
Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company.
In December 1, 1941, the Thermoid Company purchased
all of the remaining manufacturing assets of the Southern Asbestos
Company (which included the plant at 1000 Seaboard Street), and renamed
their Charlotte operations “Thermoid Company – Southern Division.”
Southern Asbestos Company maintained its corporate identity within
Thermoid and continued to produce the woven asbestos yarn, cord and
asbestos cloth under the “Flameguard” trade name at the facility.
In November 1958, the Thermoid Company merged with
the H.K. Porter Company, Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA. As a result,
Southern Asbestos Company came under the umbrella of the H.K. Porter
Company, Inc. and was renamed the Southern Textile Company.
Through the 1960s and 1970s, the Southern Textile Company manufactured
various types of asbestos products that were used in shipyards and in
the shipbuilding industry across the country and around the world.
When H.K. Porter Company, Inc. filed for bankruptcy
in August 1982, the Southern Textile Company (formerly Southern Asbestos
Company) officially went out of business and the company was sold.
The facility at 1000 Seaboard Street continued to be used by a
succession of manufacturers to produce asbestos textiles for a variety
of textile companies until 2000 when operations ceased and the building
was sold to a local developer.
The discovery of the
uses of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is at least 5,000 years
old, dating back to the ancient civilizations in Greece and elsewhere in
the Mediterranean area. The name asbestos is derived from the
Greek language: a- meaning “not” and sbestos, meaning
“extinguishable.” It was discovered by these civilizations that asbestos
could be mined, crushed, separated, and bundled into fibers that could
be woven like cloth to produce a textile that was resistant to heat.
Of the three types of asbestos that were mined – anthophyllite,
amphibole, and serpentine – only one variety of serpentine was
particularly good for manufacturing textiles because of its great
flexibility and strength.
The modern asbestos
industry began in early nineteenth century in Italy with the production
of fabrics, tablecloths and napkins, clothing, book covers, and building
By the mid-nineteenth century, asbestos was used for insulation of
machinery, pipes and engines.
In 1861 asbestos
deposits were discovered in the United States.
The first large-scale production of asbestos in the eastern U.S began in
1894 at the Sall Mountain area of Georgia.
Continuing through the end of the twentieth century, asbestos in the
eastern United States was commercially mined in Georgia, North Carolina,
Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Of these
states, North Carolina had the most commercial asbestos mines, with 27
mines concentrated largely in the southwestern corner of the state.
The competitors were Georgia, with 17 mines; Pennsylvania: 4; Maryland:
4; Vermont: 3; Massachusetts: 2; Virginia: 2; and Connecticut: 1.
The fire retardant and
insulating qualities of asbestos caused it to be incorporated into many
new products. In 1906, the first asbestos brake linings were
manufactured in the United States.
From the 1920s through the 1950s, the construction of warships,
automobiles, homes and buildings utilized asbestos products, including
insulation materials, floor and ceiling tiles, siding, and cement pipes.
Asbestos yarns, wires, and cords, such as those produced at the John B.
Ross and Company Mill, were primarily used in the electrical industry
because they were extremely durable and could withstand unusually high
In the 1920s for the
first time, a prevalence of severe lung disorders and deaths among
asbestos workers was linked with the exposure to asbestos dust for the
first time. Two distinct diseases were diagnosed in association
with breathing in asbestos fibers: asbestosis, a term for the scarring
of the lungs by embedded asbestos fibers; and mesothelioma, a cancer of
the lung and chest wall. The first documentation of a case of
asbestosis occurred in a medical journal of 1924. In the 1930s,
when the public health service came to do surveys in North Carolina,
they were sternly admonished to “not stir up any kind of damage suits by
telling the workers that they were examining how dangerous asbestos
Although the risks of asbestos were evident as early as the 1920 and
1930s, it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that such concerns could no
longer be ignored. Warning labels were not typically put on asbestos
products by manufacturers until the 1960s, after the mortality studies
were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
in 1964. Within months of those studies, some of the companies started
to put mild warning labels on their cartons of insulation products.
With the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
in 1971, standards for the production of asbestos materials were first
applied to the industry. Regulation of asbestos manufacturing and
use continues today.
increased health concerns instigated the worldwide decline in asbestos
production and consumption by thirty-one percent from 1980 to 2000.
Simultaneously, the number of asbestos litigations and lawsuits
increased. Between 1980 and 2002, over 500,000 individuals in the United
States filed over ten million claims related to asbestos exposure.
Consequently, over seventy-five firms were forced to file for
bankruptcy, with over $275 billion in damages.
the asbestos materials production is no longer a major industry in the
United States and the last United States asbestos mine closed in
California in 2002, asbestos still remains a concern. Certain asbestos
products, such as brake linings, are still used on a limited basis, and
as of 1997 nearly 50,000 people in the United States die from asbestos
exposure each year.
In other countries, however, asbestos is still mined and manufactured.
Process of Manufacturing Asbestos Textile Products
Below is a
brief description of the manufacturing process of asbestos textile
products that occurred in the John B. Ross and Company Mill, then known
as the Southern Asbestos Company Mills.
asbestos was initially received by the textile factory in its crudest
form. Upon arrival, the asbestos was inspected for quality and the crude
asbestos fiber was then partially opened by a pan crusher or chaser
mill, which passed the fibers beneath giant steel or stone wheels.
Picking machines then separated these partially crushed fibers from
impurities and other residual debris. All of the fibers of different
types and grades were then combined to achieve a greater uniformity.
combined fibers were then often mixed with organic fibers, such as
cotton or rayon, which acted as carriers or supporting agents to improve
spinning properties and increase serviceability. One product of the
mixing process was non-woven felt, which was produced when the fibers
were matted, condensed, and pressed in either random or parallel
orientation. Special binders were sometimes added to
increase the strength and alter the texture of the product.
mixing process, the next step was the carding process, which finished
the cleaning and opening of the asbestos fibers. The carding machine
arranged the fibers into a relatively parallel arrangement, which was
called a sliver. The sliver became “roving” – the principle product of
the process – when it was “separated into ribbons, rubbed mechanically
and condensed into untwisted strands.”
The other three possible products of the carding process were raw carded
fibers, non-woven felt, as mentioned above, and lap, which was a
continuous, compressed sheet that was rolled under pressure into a
was then twisted or spun. Twisting occurred literally when the asbestos
roving was twisted to increase tensile strength and facilitate further
processing; this twisted roving was called “wick”, which can then either
be twisted to produce twisted rope or braided to produce braided rope.
If the roving was spun, it became a single asbestos yarn. This yarn was
then: braided into braided rope, cord or tubing; twisted with light
wires or metallic yarns to produced plied yarns; twisted with itself to
produce twisted cord; coated with gums, starches, waxes, or resins; or
woven on a loom into asbestos tape or cloth. The Southern Asbestos Company made a wide variety
of asbestos textiles and yarn products, as illustrated in a
company-published catalogue entitled “Asbestos Textile Products” dating
The Southern Asbestos Company catalogue offered thirteen primary
asbestos textiles to its customers: carded asbestos fiber, combed
asbestos fiber, asbestos roving, asbestos yarn, asbestos cord, asbestos
thread, asbestos wick, asbestos rope, asbestos wire wiping cord and
wick, asbestos cloth, asbestos dust bags, asbestos tape, oil burner
asbestos wicking, and asbestos braided and woven tubing.
The John B.
Ross and Company Mill, standing at 1000 Seaboard Street at the northwest
corner of Seaboard and Hamilton Streets, is located in the Uptown
Charlotte neighborhood of Charlotte, NC, in an industrial district.
The John B. Ross and Company Mill was constructed in phases primarily
between 1904 and 1959, with minor additions in c.1960. This
manufacturing plant is positioned near the Seaboard Airline Railroad,
which runs parallel to Seaboard Street.
The John B.
Ross and Company Mill consists of two red brick buildings (Mills #1 and
#2) that are joined by a bridge section (Photographs 1 and 10).
The oldest portions of the plant, dating to the early twentieth century,
have low-pitched gabled roofs; the newer portions, which date to the
mid-twentieth century, have flat roofs. The brick throughout the
entire building is laid in American bond. The sills throughout the plant
are brick, as are the lintels of many of the windows. Mills #1 and
#2 are positioned in an inverted V-shaped configuration, surrounding a
newly paved courtyard. This courtyard faces south onto Seaboard Street
and contains parking spaces, a driveway and a recently installed
decorative fountain; the west side of the property aligns with Hamilton
Avenue (Photograph 1). To the north of Mill #1 and the east of
Mill #2 is a large open amphitheater that was constructed in c. 2010 in
conjunction with the rehabilitation of the mill complex (Photograph 7).
The surrounding areas to the east and west of the mills contained
asphalt parking lots and limited landscaping.
Mill #1 is
1-story above grade and has a partially exposed basement (Photographs
8-12). The original portion was built in 1904 and in c. 1920 there were
three additions: an L-shaped section was added to the south and east, a
smaller L-shaped section to the north and east with a later rectangular
piece to its north. In c.1946, a rectangular wing was added to the east
elevation of the southern c.1920 addition and a smaller rectangular
section was added to the north of the northern c.1920 addition. By
c.1955, four more sections, which served as the dust collectors, had
been added to the east of the center section of the 1904 building. In
c.1960, another very small wing was added onto the north of the southern
c.1946 addition. Except as noted, all of the early 20th
century openings are segmental arches with a lintel and two courses of
courtyard elevation or west elevation of Mill #1 mostly dates to 1904,
except for the north and south ends, which were added in the 1920s and
1940s. The west elevation is divided into two sections, which are north
and south of the Bridge Section. The portion south of the Bridge
Sections consists of thirteen bays: eleven window openings, one entrance
opening in the fourth bay form the south and one entrance opening in the
fifth bay from the south (Photographs 10-12). The segmental arched
window openings contain new rectangular replacement 1/1 double-hung
aluminum-clad windows. The fourth bay from the south contains a
single-leaf glazed wood door that dates to c. 2010 and the fifth bay
from the south contains a double-leaf flush metal door with four narrow
lights and a 1-light arched transom. A new contemporary flat steel
canopy was added in 2006. The canopy has been painted and is suspended
from steel cables, but has no other detailing or ornamentation. The four
southernmost bays, added in the 1920s, are placed on a section of the
elevation at an angle towards the southwest. The entire west
elevation is sheltered by a continuous overhanging wood eave with wide
wood rafter tails. A raised platform of concrete and decorative concrete
pavers with a pipe railing extends along the west elevation of Mill #1.
Additionally, signage has been added in the form of banners and metal
signs that have been attached using stanchions to the mortar joints
between the bricks.
north of the Bridge Section on the west elevation of Mill #1 was added
in three stages in the 1920s and 1940s (Photograph 8). Between 1925 and
1929, a 2-story, L-shaped addition was added onto the north elevation of
the 1904 portion of Mill #1. The west elevation of this 1904 section is
no longer visible as it is the connection point for the Bridge Section,
but the south elevation is marked by a flat brick parapet. In this same
period form 1925 to 1929, a 1-story square wing was added into the space
between the legs of the “L”. The west elevation of this second addition
was flush with the west elevation of the first addition, but its north
elevation was recessed. Only the west elevation of this addition, which
also dates to between 1925 and 1929, remains visible and it is marked by
a contemporary metal canopy above a narrow entrance opening and a
garage-style entrance opening. Neither opening retains its doorway.
Directly north of the second addition is a 2-story section, which was
built in c.1946. Its west elevation was flush with those of the two
prior additions and its north elevation was flush with that of the first
addition. The west elevation of this c.1946 addition is one bay wide
with a flush single-leaf steel door on the first floor and a window
opening on the second floor that has been infilled with brick. The
elevation also features a flat brick parapet, which raises the wall
height to that of the first addition.
elevation of Mill #1 was constructed in two phases (Photograph 9). The
western half of the south elevation of Mill #1 dates to c.1920; the
remainder of the elevation was added in c.1946. The ground level slopes
down towards the southeast, allowing for an exposed basement level at
the eastern half. Original window openings that have since been infilled
with brick are visible on both levels. The elevation has eleven
contemporary 1/1 aluminum windows in new openings that date to c. 2010
and are arranged at regular intervals. At the west end of the lower
level is a contemporary, single-leaf aluminum door and at the west end
of the upper level is a contemporary, single-leaf glazed wood door, both
of which date to c. 2010. A short, flat parapet capped with a strip of
contemporary aluminum provides a finishing cap to the south elevation.
elevation of Mill #1 consists of three additions to the original
building. To the north is an addition that extends north from the main
block and dates to c.1920; two more additions extending from the middle
of the elevation date to c.1946 and c.1955, the latter being a 2-story
dust collector room of red brick. The northern section of the east
elevation contains a series of segmental arched window openings on the
first and second stories that, for the most part, are infilled with
brick. One opening contains a metal louvered vent and another
appears to be filled with plywood. The roofline has the same overhanging
eave with the same wide wood rafter tails as the rest of the east
elevation of Mill #1.
section of the east elevation of Mill #1 (belonging to a 2-story dust
collector room addition that dates to c.1955) is red brick. Two
metal dust collector towers, from the same period, project from this
section of Mill #1 and infill the area between the c.1955 dust collector
room addition and the original Mill #1. The two towers are taller
than the surrounding building and range between two and three stories.
Both towers have gabled metal roofs with overhanging eaves.
southernmost section of the east elevation of Mill #1, which dates to
c.1946, is 1-story in height on a raised basement. This portion of
the elevation is six bays wide on the first floor; the rectangular
openings are filled with new clad 1/1 double-hung windows. Several
additional window openings on the first floor are filled with brick,
indicating alterations over the years; the entire basement level
consists of infilled window openings. The roofline has an
overhanging eave with wide wood rafter tails, similar to the cornice on
the west elevation of Mill #1. A 1-story brick projection dating
to c.1960 is situated at the corner between the c.1946 addition and the
c.1955 2-story dust collector addition immediately to the north.
This projection contains a single-leaf flush steel entrance door with a
corrugated metal hood on its south elevation.
elevation of Mill #1 consists of the c.1955 dust collector room addition
and c.1920 and c.1946 additions to the north elevation of the 1904
portion of Mill #1 (Photograph 8). The dust collector room is
brick with one single-leaf flush steel opening on the second floor at
the east end. The brick on the second floor appears to have been applied
at a later date. A 1-story addition, also dating to c.1955, abuts the
north elevation of the dust collector room and is five bays wide. Four
of the five bays are filled with 2-light awning style windows. The
westernmost by has a double-leaf entrance. Visible on the north
elevation at the base of the metal towers is a 1-story brick addition.
This section contains a wide entrance opening with a sliding metal door.
Another small addition to the west, also dating to c.1955, contains two
double-leaf entrances with flush steel doors. The north elevation of the
c. 1920s addition is three bays wide with a flush double-leaf steel door
in its easternmost bay. The c. 1946 addition is also three bays wide and
all openings have a segmental arched brick head. There is a flush
single-leaf steel door in its easternmost bay on the 1st
floor and a 1/1 aluminum window in the westernmost bay on the 1st
floor that dates to c. 2010. The remaining bays have been infilled with
brick. The roofline has a similar overhanging eave and wide wood rafter
tails as that of the rest of the east elevation of Mill #1.
interior of Mill #1 has two levels (Photographs 24-27). The 1904
section along the most of the western side of the building consists of
two levels and has brick walls, a wood floor and a peaked wood ceiling
and a single row of square wood posts running the length of the space.
A heavy metal fire door leads from the northwest corner of this space to
the bridge. Under the current ownership, the upper level has received
some recent improvements, including refinished wood floors and the
removal of flaking paint from the beamed ceilings and wood columns. In
addition, along the interior of the west wall, asbestos stucco was
removed from the brick. The upper level of Mill #1 in the c. 1920
portion at the southeast end of the building is at grade level along
Seaboard Street. It is a primarily open restaurant space, with wood
floors and ceilings, narrow wooden columns spaced evenly on a grid and
exposed brick walls. Some of the horizontal and vertical wooden members
have been reinforced with steel members. The c.1955 dust collector room
on the upper level is an open space with concrete floors, block walls, a
peaked, wood ceiling and evenly spaced wood columns on a grid. Also on
the interior of Mill #1, new plumbing and electrical wiring were
recently installed throughout. The lower level, originally storage and
basement space for Mill #1, is predominantly an open space with a
non-original concrete floor, exposed brick walls, wood ceilings and
narrow wooden columns spaced evenly on a grid.
section dates to c.1920, with an addition to the south of the bridge
that post-dates 1959, based on Sanborn maps (Photographs 12). At the
north elevation, the bridge is two stories in height, with two wide
openings on the 1st floor to allow for access under the
bridge. The upper portion of the bridge is clad in sheet metal and
is utilitarian in character. The interior of the bridge contains a
wood floor and metal panel walls.
the bridge is a2-story section dating to c.1960 that is brick and metal
panel construction on the north elevation and entirely brick on the
south elevation. The south elevation has been recently modified by
the current owner with a metal stage with a steel frame roof that is
supported by steel columns. A flight of concrete steps leads to
the stage at the southeast corner. Behind the stage, the interior
of this 2-story section is a newly rehabilitated space with wood floors,
exposed brick walls and hard dropped ceilings (Photograph 28).
original south section of Mill #2 resembles Mill #1 in style and
materials but dates to c.1920. The east elevation facing the new
courtyard is 1-story in height and has a series of regularly spaced
segmental arched window openings recently filled with square-headed 1/1
aluminum-clad double-hung windows (Photographs 1 and 2). The
roofline has an overhanging eave with wide wood rafter tails, similar to
the cornice on the east elevation of Mill #1. Above the cornice is
a contemporary metal awning that dates to c. 2010. A new entrance
installed c. 2006 is located at the tenth bay from the south end.
This entrance opening contains a double-leaf contemporary steel door
with a steel-framed hood. A raised platform of concrete and
decorative concrete pavers with a pipe railing extends along the length
of Mill #2 at the south end. Additionally, signage has been added in the
form of banners attached using stanchions inserted into the mortar
joints between the bricks. New metal awnings have been added to the
elevation of Mill #2 consists of a brick wall with no extant openings.
The eastern half displays a few infilled rectangular openings and
appears to date from the 1980s when the widening of Seaboard Street
entailed removal of a shallow wedge of the south end of the 1920s
section. The western half, with a simple stepped parapet, is a
combination of two build dates: a small wedged portion at the east end
of this half that dates from the c. 1920 original construction and
corresponds to an infilled segmental arched window opening; the
remaining five infilled openings have square heads and mark the south
end of the c. 1946 addition. The irregularly stepped roofline indicates
the changes to the building over time.
elevation of Mill #2 is 1-story in height with a raised basement
(Photographs 3-6). From south to north, the site gradually
declines so that ground level on the north end is a full floor height
above ground level at the south end. The southern end of Mill #2
consists of the original c.1920 building with several mid-twentieth
century additions. All of the windows are recently installed
aluminum-clad double-hung windows. Nearly all of the original
upper level window openings remain exposed. In the center of the
lower level, there are three exposed windows that have been boarded over
and one double-leaf flush metal door. At the southernmost end of the
west elevation is a square 1-story projection built c.1946 that contains
two entrance openings: a garage door opening with a metal pull-down
garage door and a single-leaf flush steel door. Just to the north
is a small 1-story addition with a shed roof that also dates to c.1946
and has a double-leaf opening with no doorway and a second double-leaf
opening filled with a flush steel door. In the middle of the west
elevation of Mill #2 is a 1-story projection with a flat roof that dates
to c.1955. This projection is largely unfenestrated. To the
north of this is another c.1955 addition, which has three garage-style
doors. The northern door contains a double-leaf flush metal door, while
the others are filled with metal pull-down doors. North of this addition
is a third c.1955 addition, which contains a double-leaf flush metal
door beneath a metal canopy. Neither the remainder of this addition, nor
the c.1960 addition to the west, both of which are at basement level,
has any openings. The west elevation of the large c.1960 addition at the
north end of Mill #2, which is also at basement level, has a single-leaf
metal door with a glazed panel in its southern bay, a garage-style
pull-down door in its center bay and a single-leaf flush metal door in
its northern bay. An awning extends over all three bays.
end of Mill #2’s c.1920 building is only visible at the 2nd
floor, as there is a 1-story addition, dating to c.1946, attached in
this area. The 2nd floor contains a series of window openings
filled with the same windows as the rest of Mill #2. The 1st
floor consists of the 1-story shed-roofed addition with three entrance
openings: a double-leaf flush metal door at the top of a flight of
concrete steps; and two raised loading bays with roll-down metal doors.
The addition also features a long monitor roof, which runs the length of
the addition and is barely visible from the exterior. The monitor roof
has bands of 1-light windows that run the length of the east and west
sides, but there are no windows at either the north or south ends.
the original c.1920 portion of Mill #2, the west elevation continues
with a large brick 1-story addition, c.1946, with a raised basement.
This addition is fifteen bays wide from north to south. The window
openings are filled with industrial style 8-light steel windows.
There is one entrance opening approximately in the middle of this
portion of the west elevation: a pair of double-leaf steel doors with a
4-light transom overhead. Above the door is a metal sign that reads “The
Fillmore” and dates to c. 2010. A concrete ramp leads up to the
At the very
north end of the west elevation of Mill #2, there is a 1-story c.1960
addition, which measures approximately 125’ x 160’. This addition has a
flat roof and is lacking in ornamental architectural features. A
loading dock with two single-leaf flush steel doors and a roll-down
metal door are located at the extreme northern end of this addition’s
elevation of Mill #2 consists of three building periods due to the slope
of the site: a 2-story section that dates to c. 1920; a 2-story section
to the north that dates to c.1946; and an additional lower floor
extension constructed in c. 1960 which consists of an red brick wall
with no openings (Photograph 5). The c.1946 section has twelve
bays, which are all filled with a series of industrial 8-light steel
windows. The 2-story c.1920 building is nine bays wide; each bay
contains a new 1/1 double-hung wood-clad window. The 2-story building,
visible only at the second floor level, retains a stepped red brick
elevation of Mill #2 consists of several areas dating to different
construction periods. The northernmost section is the large 1-story
addition built in c.1960, which has two double-leaf flush entrance doors
and an opening filled with a large metal vent. A 2-story metal
tower projects from the middle of this section. Adjacent to this
section is the 1-story section on a raised basement, dating to c.1946.
Both levels contain a series of the same industrial style 8-light steel
windows as the west elevation. The east elevation of Mill #2 at
the c.1920 section resembles the west elevation with its series of
segmental arched window openings filled with replacement 1/1
aluminum-clad windows. The roofline is accented with an
overhanging eave and wide wood rafter tails.
interior of Mill #2 is divided into lower, middle and upper levels; the
uppermost level is at grade along Seaboard Street while the lower level
is beneath grade at the north end of the building (Photographs 13-23).
The upper level of Mill #2, dating to c.1920, only extends along the
south half of the footprint. The open spaces feature wood floors
and wood ceilings and exposed brick walls in their original condition.
This level has been successfully renovated by the present owner into new
contemporary loft style offices with a central corridor to access the
units. These offices expose and highlight the tall ceilings, and
wooden beams, columns and floors. Typical finishes include refinished
wood floors, exposed brick walls, wood columns and beamed ceilings. New
plumbing and electrical wiring was installed throughout Mill #2 by the
present owner as part of the renovations. The middle level of Mill #2
(split into two areas: the north half constructed in c.1946 and the
south half dating to c.1920) is an entirely open space with concrete
floors, brick walls, wood ceilings and parallel rows of wood and metal
columns running the length of the spaces. The south half, the basement
level of the original c.1920 portion of Mill #2, was modified over the
years with the addition of the concrete floor and metal columns but the
original wood-beamed ceiling remains intact. The north half, which dates
to c.1946, features a notable monitor roof with glazed east and west
elevations that allows maximum light into the otherwise cavernous space.
The lower level, which dates to c.1946 and c.1960, has been renovated by
the current owners as a theater venue and is an open space with wood
floors, painted drywall and contemporary industrial finishes.