Susan at Witness2Fashion sent these ads my way because she noticed that the Aberfoyle mill was located in North Carolina. I had never heard of Aberfoyle, but as it turns out, they had a mill in Belmont, NC, a small mill town just west of Charlotte. I’ve been to Belmont plenty of times, mainly because there are several antique places there, one in a repurposed textile mill. By looking at some photos Susan linked to, I at first thought that the mill I like to visit was the Aberfoyle plant, but on further investigation I realized that Aberfoyle was located down the street outside of town.
On that street, there were at least three textile mills, all of which are now closed. Even after the factory buildings are torn down, you can often tell were they were located by the presence of lots of similar little houses, lined in neat rows. These are former mill houses, built by the company as housing for the workers. There are clusters of mill houses all over Belmont.
The wonderful textilehistory.org site appears to have been down for the past few weeks, which makes learning about these old textile companies a bit more difficult than usual. I have learned that Aberfoyle began in Chester, PA in 1889, and later opened a mill in Belmont, probably because they were doing business with the other mills in that area, and because production costs were less in the South. The Chester Mill closed in 1950, but the one in Belmont stayed open at least into the 1960s.
From reading the ads, you can see that Aberfoyle produced what many other Southern mills made – cotton dress goods. I love how in the ad above you can see snippets of the fabric designs, which are arranged in a very Art Deco manner.
The artist of these is Helen Dryden, who is probably most famous for her beautiful magazine covers of Vogue. She also did covers for Delineator, where these ads were found. I can’t help but wonder what the workers at Aberfoyle thought of these stylish ads. The late 1920s were particularly hard times for textile workers, and I suspect they would not have seen the “story behind their gaiety” that is implied in the ad.
I did learn of a history museum in Belmont that has exhibits on the town’s textile heritage. I know what I’ll be visiting the next time I’m passing through that area.