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[photo] E. Van Winkle Gin and Machine Works today, and a historic advertisement. To view a larger image of that ad, click here.
National Register photographs--color by Yen Tang; ad from Official Guide, Central of Georgia Railway Company, 1903

One of the largest cotton-related industrial sites in the South, the E. Van Winkle Gin and Machine Works is a complex of industrial buildings on an 11-acre site serviced by three separate rail lines in northwest Atlanta. Built between the early 1880s and the early 1930s, it is an intact late 19th-century manufacturing plant (with some modernizations) that remains an ongoing enterprise. Edward Van Winkle opened his third industrial complex in Atlanta in 1889. Nine years later, he specialized solely in cotton-related machinery, winning numerous awards at international expositions and state fairs. During this time, his was one of only three cotton-gin manufacturers in Atlanta and the only cotton-seed-oil mill producer in the state.

For the most part, the complex consists of one-, two- and three-story red brick buildings with load bearing masonry exterior walls and timber and plank interiors. A small number of cast-iron structural elements are employed. Industrial in character, the machine works were the result of engineering principles applied to problems of design and construction, yet the cross-axial layout of the hierarchical arrangement of the buildings reflects period Beaux Arts principles of composition. They are highlighted by subtle details that reveal attention to aesthetics as well as utility; these details include corbelled and dentilled cornices and parapets, articulated segmental arches over windows and doorways and accentuated brick bonding patterns.

View from southeast of the E. Van Winkle Gin and Machine Works, c. 1900
Photo from National Register collection

In 1912, the Murray Company of Texas bought Van Winkle out and changed the name of the plant. During World War II, the complex was used to produce ammunition and mortars for the war effort. After several ownership changes, varied industrial shops opened their businesses in the former cotton gin manufacturing complex. The continuity of activity has prevented its disuse, decay and demolition. With interpretation provided by available documentation, the entire process of manufacturing cotton-ginning equipment can be traced through the complex as it stands today. The complex also makes an interesting and emphatic statement about the late 19th-century outlook on transportation as it was principally oriented toward the railroad and not the highway.

The E. Van Winkle Gin and Machine Works is located at 1200 Foster St. in NW Atlanta. It contains several commercial shops which are open to the public during normal business hours.

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