Lenoir Cotton Mill, Lenoir City TN

Dec 12, 2020
My granddaughter and I visited the remains of this cotton mill in Lenoir City TN recently. We drove around Louden and Blount County TN looking for some history and imagining the armies tramping through.
The following is from Wikipedia


What is now Lenoir City was originally part of a 5,000-acre (2,000 ha) grant of land given to General William Lenoir (1751–1839) for service in the American Revolution. Lenoir deeded the land to his son, William Ballard Lenoir, who moved his family to the area in 1810. William Ballard Lenoir established the Lenoir Manufacturing Company in 1817, and engaged in numerous agricultural and industrial endeavors. Along with the cotton mill, Lenoir built a sawmill and gristmill on Town Creek, and raised livestock. The Lenoir family used both slave labor and paid labor in their enterprises.[2]


The ruins of the Lenoir Cotton Mill, now part of a city park
The cotton mill was completed in the early 1830s. A Pittsburgh miller named E.F. Faber built a 113-spindle spinning jack and three looms for Lenoir's mill in 1831. Lenoir's farm grew and ginned its own cotton throughout the 1830s, but eventually Lenoir employed his sons to purchase raw cotton for the mill. By the mid-1850s, the mill had 620 spindles, and was powered by an overshot waterwheel. In 1855, the mill's value was listed at $12,000, making it the Lenoirs' most valuable asset.[2]

After Lenoir's death in 1852, his sons continued operating the mill. During the Civil War (1861–1865), the Lenoirs supported the Confederacy, and when Union soldiers occupied the Lenoir estate in 1863, they burned the Lenoirs' railroad depot, general store, and several other outbuildings. As they prepared to burn the cotton mill, William Ballard Lenoir's son, Benjamin Ballard Lenoir, walked through the ranks of the Union troops flashing a secret Masonic sign, and the troops spared the mill.[3]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lenoir Cotton Mill.
By 1890, when the Lenoir City Company purchased the Lenoir estate, the mill had been expanded to include over 1,000 spindles. The Holston Manufacturing Company used the mill for a hosiery operation in the 1890s, although the mill was eventually converted into a flour mill, which operated until the 1950s. In 1980, the Lenoir Cotton Mill Association was formed to preserve the mill, and eventually raised over $100,000 for its restoration. The mill was destroyed by arson in 1991, however, and in 1996 Lenoir City rejected a plan to rebuild the mill, choosing instead to include the mill's ruins in plans for a city park.[3] One of the mill's warehouses, known as the Lenoir Cotton Mill Warehouse, was restored and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.[2]