Mooresville Mill Village National Register Study List Application Part 10 B. History

By 1906 the mill village is clearly starting to take shape, and it is already being referred to as the “mill village”

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By 1906 the mill village is clearly starting to take shape, and it is already being referred to as the “mill village”2. Between 1900 and 1906, Mooresville’s population grew from 1500 to 2600. A 1906 survey map belonging to the Town of Mooresville (see attachment) shows the distinctive repetitive housing pattern beginning to form around the mill. Mills Avenue is already completely developed as it stands today in 2009. Spruce Street, Wilson Avenue, Church Street, and Davidson College Road, which would become College Street, are beginning to fill out.

The love affair and preoccupation with baseball was also already evident—a baseball diamond on mill property is already clearly marked on the map.

MCM’s entrepreneurial management was quite ambitious and forward-thinking, and the town of Mooresville was a partner in their venture. Quality and esthetics were clearly considered in the construction of the mill and mill houses. It is important to remember that the mill tract lay almost adjacent to the homeplace of Isaac Harris, one of the primary mill investors and managers. The mill built high-quality housing with streets, water, and sewer infrastructure; the town of Mooresville provided the street lighting for the neighborhood. Minutes of the town’s board meetings show that in 1907, it installed lighting on College Street, Church Street, and Wilson Avenue in what it calls “the mill village.3

Again in 1908, it seems that the mill provided the impetus for a new Sanborn survey as evidenced by a new mill, called Mill no.3, located perpendicular to Mill no.2. This map indicates that the mill village has continued to grow, although the only street actually depicted is College Street. It is clear, however, that College St. has lengthened its row of mill houses.

The 1910 Federal Census shows that the area is densifying, with over 140 households in the area referred to as the “Cotton Mill Hill,” with many streets simply called “rows”, some without name. Streets named by the census include Wilson Avenue, Nesbit Street, and Mills “Alley”.

Around this time, just north of Wilson Avenue, the heirs of Laban Deaton begin selling off his small 43 acre farm abutting the mill property along Wilson Avenue to people employed by the mill. Catawba Avenue is carved out of this tract, which marks the northern most edge of the proposed district, separated from the town cemetery by a steep gulley and creek to the north.

There is a clear switch in house style from the cottage to the bungalow as the village expands southward beyond Brawley Avenue and across the railroad tracks. Likewise we believe that the areas immediately surrounding the mill--nearly all of College, East Wilson, Mills, Brawley, Nesbit, Harris, and Freeman--were built out by around 1910.

What is clear is that the mill was commissioning houses during a time of regional growth and of architectural transition from the victorian cottage to the American bungalow, interpreted in the local style.

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