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Property Name Whisnant Hosiery Mills
Reference Number 13000637
State North Carolina
County Catawba
Town Hickory
Street Address 74 Eighth Street SE
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 8/27/2013
Areas of Significance Industry
Link to full file http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000637.pdf
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The history of Whisnant Hosiery Mills reflects the development and expansion of the hosiery industry in Hickory, North Carolina, during the second and third quarters of the twentieth century. The hosiery industry in this piedmont city began in 1906 and grew slowly at first, but by the third quarter of the twentieth century, it had become the largest industry and the primary economic force in Hickory. Only four mills were in operation by 1925, but by 1953, the number had increased to fifty-five, with 4,000 workers, and by 1962, at the peak of hosiery manufacturing in Hickory, there were eighty-nine mills. Like the hosiery industry in Hickory as a whole, the Whisnant Hosiery Mills started out modestly, with a small mill erected in 1929. From then on, however, the company enlarged its plant and workforce and updated its machinery almost continuously, with major additions built in 1937, the 1940s, and 1966. The physical appearance of the mill today tells the story of each period of its growth. By 193 8, Whisnant Hosiery Mills, which manufactured, dyed, and finished men's half hose, employed 525 workers and had the capacity to produce 3,500 dozen pair of men's hose per day, far out-pacing the employment and production figures for all but one of the other mills at that time. [That mill, the Elliot Hosiery Mills, does not survive.] The Whisnant Hosiery Mills' important status within the local hosiery industry continued throughout its history. In 1966, the company constructed its last addition, doubling the size of the mill. Replacing the warehouses that had stood on part of the site, the addition substantially expanded the mill's manufacturing space for dyeing and finishing processes and provided a new and larger office suite for the management. Designed by Hickory architect D. Carroll Abee, the modernist brick, concrete, and glass exterior served to update the company's image. The 1966 addition not only signified the high level of success the company still enjoyed, but coincided with the hosiery industry's peak, as a whole, in Hickory.

 

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