From Madison County's early beginnings, agricultural and associated commercial enterprises flourished. Reconstruction following the devastation wreaked by the Civil War positioned Huntsville to continue its regional leadership in the flourishing textile trade at the turn of the twentieth century. Infusion of capital from northern manufacturers after the war led to the establishment of a broader industrial basis, which more closely aligned raw material sources and manufacturing processes.

     An example of this was Lowe Manufacturing Company's new yarn spinning mill in Huntsville that opened in 1901. The company provided housing for mill workers who converted locally produced cotton into fibers and yarns for use in the textile industry. The following year, Eastern Manufacturing Company completed a weaving mill on adjacent property. This new enterprise utilized the output from Lowe Mill to produce high grade clothes and linens. In 1907, these two enterprises were consolidated into Lowe Manufacturing, Inc. The mill complex went through both physical and ownership changes until 1932 at the height of the Great Depression when Lowe Manufacturing Company went bankrupt. The mill soon reincorporated in 1933 as Lowe Mills, Inc. Despite an ownership change in 1936 to rescue the failing company, in 1937 textile manufacturing ceased at Lowe Mill.

Historic Lowe Mill Photos
Source: Madison County Public Library

Original constuction, circa 1901.
Historic panoramic photo circa 1909.
Raw cotton storage, unknown date.
Courtyard view, circa 1945.
Break activities, circa 1945.
Factory interior, circa 1945.
Aerial photo of Lowe Mill, circa 1945.
Boiler room machinery, unknown date.

     After textile operations ended, the Lowe Mill buildings were used to warehouse cotton. General Shoe Company began manufacturing shoes at the former textile mill, in 1946. Production continued until 1979 when the plant was closed again. At its peak operation, as many as 800 people were employed at Genesco's Lowe Mill plant. Many of the photographs illustrated here are from the General Shoe Company era.

     Once again, the buildings at Lowe Mill became warehouses until the property was purchased by Research Genetics founder, Jim Hudson, in 2001. There has since been an effort to seek inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places for historic Lowe Mill and the surrounding neighborhood. The building complex has undergone a major transformation preparing the way for a communal focal point which supports artist, commercial, and research enterprises.

Current Lowe Mill Photos

Current panoramic photo showing the
Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment
portion of the facility.
Current state of the original construction
portion of the facility.
Detail view of the original construction.

Boiler room machinery.
Source: Grace Billiter.
Entrance to Flying Monkey Arts,
located on the second floor.
Interior, second floor.

Interior, Flying Monkey Arts.

Evidence of machinery remains
throughout Lowe Mill.

     Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research staff members and community volunteers conducted limited archaeological excavations in selected portions of Lowe Mill properties. By carefully screening the excavated soil, archaeologist and volunteers found leather scraps and shoe remains. Below these layers, pieces of fiber and cloth from earlier textile manufacturing were recovered by the excavators. Surprisingly, prehistoric Native American artifacts were found in even deeper soil layers.

Archaeological Project Photos

Test unit 01.
Test unit 02.
Digging 50x50cm test units.
Digging 50x50cm test units.

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