BUILDING THE NEW SOUTH
THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION OF THE PIEDMONT AFTER THE CIVIL WAR
Landmarks, Museums, and Archives
Cedarock Park is on the outskirts of Burlington, North Carolina. Here Alamance County maintains an historic site interpreting the 19th century farm of John and Polly Garrett. The land was a wedding gift from Polly’s parents, and the couple built a small cabin on the property in 1830 and began farming. On the site are the cabin first built by the Garrett family (it later became their kitchen), an “I” house they later constructed, a smoke house, and several barns. A collection of 19th century farming implements is on display in one of the barns. The Garrett extended family and Polly’s side of the family—the Albrights—were longtime residents of Alamance County and, members of both families are buried at the Mt. Hermon Methodist Church cemetery. The Garretts were one of many farm families in the region that made the transition from small, largely self-sufficient producers before the war to cash crop farmers after the war.
Cedarock Historical Farm web site:
Glencoe Mill and Mill Village
The Glencoe Mill and a village to house the mill workers were constructed in the early 1880s by brothers William and James Holt on the banks of the Haw River a few miles outside of Burlington. Holt family members were prominent mill builders in Alamance County and among the most prominent mill men in the South. E.M. Holt, the father of William and James, built one of the first mills in the South before the Civil War. The family ran Glencoe for over seventy years until it closed it in 1954. By the 1970s, the mill village was all but abandoned. There was little development of the area after the closing of the mill, so the site today is relatively undisturbed by more recent construction. Over the last decade, a concerted effort was launched by preservationists to restore the village, and many homes have been repaired and are now occupied. One home is open for tours. A rich collection of pictures of Glencoe and oral histories of former workers in the mill and residents of the village have been collected by historians and are available in several repositories, and some are available online.
For interviews with Glencoe textile workers and pictures, go to: Glencoe
Research Forum at:
Textile Heritage Museum at Glencoe
The Textile Heritage Museum was established in 2004 in the old Glencoe Mill company store and business office. It has a display of textile mill machinery and other artifacts and pictures from Glencoe’s long history as a mill and mill village. Museum staff members take visitors on a tour of the company business office, the village, and of one of the village houses.
Museum website: http://www.textileheritagemuseum.org/index.html
Alamance Historical Museum
The Alamance Historical Museum is located in “Oak Grove,” a grain plantation in the years before the Civil War worked by 51 slaves. Oak Grove was owned by three generations of the Holt family. The Holts played a prominent role in the textile industry that emerged in the South in the 19th century; E.M. Holt built his first textile mill in 1837, and Holts were leaders of the textile industry for the next hundred years. The various mills started by the Holt family became the nucleus of Burlington Industries, which, for most of the 20th century, was one of the largest textile corporations in the world.
Museum website: http://www.alamancemuseum.org/
The North Carolina Transportation Museum
The museum is both a museum and an important landmark of the railroad age in the South. It is located on the site of Spencer Shops, a facility established by the Southern Railroad in 1896 to repair steam locomotives. The facility declined as steam power gave way to diesel power in the train industry, and Spencer Shops was finally closed in the 1970s. The state of North Carolina acquired much of the Shops property (land and buildings) and, today the Transportation Museum is sited on a 57 acre tract of land. The museum has restored a number of the buildings to show visitors how the Shops worked during its heyday. Forty restored locomotives and train cars are displayed in the roundhouse. The museum also has exhibits on the history of the railroad industry.
Museum website: http://www.nctrans.org/
The Levine Museum of the New South
The Levine Museum of the New South is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is an interactive history museum featuring a number of exhibits that interpret the history of the post Civil War South. It’s most ambitious exhibit, situated on 8,000 square feet of space, is “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South.” This award-winning exhibit was developed with NEH funding, and features several “environments” that interpret topics examined by this workshop through a social history lens.
Museum web site: http://www.museumofthenewsouth.org/
Southern Historical Collection
The Southern Historical Collection is one of the nation’s most important resources for the study of the American South. The collection houses over “15 million items organized in more than 4,600 discrete collections.” The holdings cover a broad range of materials-- “primary documents, such as diaries, journals, letters, correspondence, photographs, maps, drawings, ledgers, oral histories, moving images, albums, scrapbooks, and literary manuscripts.”
North Carolina Collection
More than “170,000 books and 110,000 pamphlets form the core of the North Carolina Collection.” These formats are supplemented by “newspapers, journals, maps, broadsides, photographs, audiovisuals, microforms, and other materials.”
Other Points of Interest
Other Points of Interest
Hawkins Brown Museum
Hawkins Brown Museum
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
In addition, Duke University in Durham and UNC-Chapel Hill have fine art museums. Raleigh is the home of the state museum of art (http://ncartmuseum.org), now ensconced in an impressive new building, and a very good history museum is located downtown.