Cooleemee hosting open house at old cotton mill

  • Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 12:30 a.m.
Weave Room in the old Erwin Mills during the belt and pulley days before the looms had electric motors.
Weave Room in the old Erwin Mills during the belt and pulley days before the looms had electric motors.

COOLEEMEE — If Cooleemee wants to survive, Mayor Lynn Rumley says, “it needs its own economic engine.”

That’s where the former Burlington Mills plant comes in.

“The redevelopment of this old cotton mill is our best prospect but it’s going to take everyone putting their ideas in the pot.”

That process that will begin in earnest on Saturday from 2 p.m. to p.m. inside the historic mill. At the Mill Open House, visitors will see exhibits about the days of mill work, photos of the Saxapahaw Rivermill project and displays of essays, art and design work from the elementary school’s fourth- and fifth-graders who were asked to come up with ideas for reusing the mill.

Dress warm, say organizers. There’s no heat in the mill. But there will be plenty of hot coffee, hot cider and sweets.

Although the open house will be held in the newer “Burlington” addition, every so often there will be a guided tour of the old first floor section, courtesy of Stokes County Yarn Company staff.

Many local people have expressed interest in going inside the old mill. Their parents or grandparents may have worked there. Or they just cannot imagine its future potential without taking a look, a town news release said.

There’s even interest from many across the river in Rowan County where a mill bus used to pick up workers from Woodleaf and Needmore.

“Although this is a 10-year project, the first phase of construction could begin as early as 2014,” says Rumley.

Event planners ask that visitors park outside the main gate or just across Main Street. Just walk through the small gate and toward the loading docks. Everyone who enters will be asked to sign an insurance waiver.

For more information call 284-6040 or 284-2141. The Cooleemee Cotton Mill Project is a partnership between the town of Cooleemee, the Cooleemee Historical Association and the Davie County Economic Development Commission.

Its planning phase has been funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program and a design grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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