Belmont, North Carolina
Built in 1901, the Chronicle Mill represents the beginning of textile manufacturing in Belmont, and the mill's growth and success between 1901 and 1907 led to the expansion of textile production in Belmont during the twentieth century. The construction of Chronicle Mill led to the development of textile mill villages, schools, churches, and other associated buildings, and movement of people from the county's rural areas closer to downtown Belmont. The Chronicle Mill reflects the significant impact of the textile industry on the local economy in Belmont and best represents the era's textile production in Belmont during the early- to mid-twentieth century.
The first decade of the mill's existence also included benchmarks that cemented its inclusion in the annals of industrial history. In 1906, mill owners had installed "one of the first industrial air cooling or humidification systems (later termed air conditioning) in the United States." Willis Haviland Carrier of Buffalo, New York, created this system to provide proper temperature and humidity control in textile mills. These controls ensured the production of better quality textile materials. Carrier originally installed a system of humidifiers in the mill's spinning room, and, although unsuccessful, Chronicle Mills was the first textile mill to boast having this technology. Ironically, Stuart W. Cramer, Southern textile manufacturer and namesake of Cramerton, coined the phrase "air conditioning" and was involved with a humidification system made by Parks-Cramer company in Charlotte. On October 13, 1918, it was reported in the Charlotte Observer that "the Chronicle Mills has just installed the Cramer humidifying system and the cards in the mill are now being reclothed."
The Chronicle Mill is associated with local textile magnates, Robert L. Stowe and Abel C. Lineberger, who were invested in and presided over all of the textile mills built and operated in Belmont from 1901 through the 1960s. The Chronicle Mill is a product of the investment by entrepreneurs in the textile industry from Belmont and surrounding counties during the New South period. According to textile historian Robert A. Ragan, these men "changed not only the face of Belmont, but of Gaston County as well." R. L. Stowe, his brother, Samuel Pinckney Stowe, and A. C. Lineberger "headed an amalgamation known as the Lineberger-Stowe group of mills that between 1905 and 1931 promoted, built, and managed 17 more mills."
The Stowes, Linebergers, and D. E. Rhyne all played pivotal roles in the industrialization of the South and, specifically, the textile manufacturing industry. The Chronicle Mill played a significant role in the textile industry's development not only in Belmont and Gaston County, but in the South. Without the Stowes and Linebergers, this industry would not have reached its prominence. The Chronicle Mill is a good example of their leadership in the development of this industry, and the building shows the various stages of development and adaptations within which the industry became even more prominent.
Organizers named the textile mill in honor of Revolutionary War hero Major William Chronicle who once owned a portion of the property on which the mill was eventually built. Major Chronicle was killed at the Battle of King Mountain at the age of 25. The Chronicle family homeplace was located on a hill near the mill site, and the Chronicle family spring, which originally supplied water for the cotton mill, was located at the bottom of the hill.
At the peak of the textile boom, 60% of Belmont’s workers were employed by local mills. Chronicle Mill spearheaded this industrial movement and has remained deeply intertwined in the fabric of this proud North Carolina town. A local historic landmark, Chronicle Mill holds memories that stretch across generations. To those who live here, Chronicle Mill's restoration is more than just another development project -- it’s like seeing a family heirloom being rescued and brought back to its former glory as an integral part of the community's development.