Lakeside Mills Historic District
The Lakeside Mills Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.
The Lakeside Mills Historic District is located north of Burlington's Central Business District, approximately one mile from the city center and one mile from the northern city limits. It consists of a one-story brick mill and ancillary buildings, sixteen one-, one-and-one-half and two-story frame houses, and a store building — the central and major portion of the original 1890s Lakeside Mills village. The Lakeside Mills Historic District remains remarkably intact, retaining its original general layout and semi-rural character. This situation is due primarily to failure of the mill to expand significantly and to minimal twentieth-century urban development in the immediate vicinity. Because the number of workers employed by the mill remained fairly constant, very few houses were erected on the extensive village tract after the initial construction phase in the early 1890s.
The Lakeside Mills Historic District occupies gently rolling terrain that reaches its steepest grade along Lakeside Avenue. The district extends along Lakeside Avenue for approximately one-and-one-half blocks north of Hatch Street; on both sides of Kent Street; and on both sides of Hatch Street west of Lakeside Avenue to the west property lines of 228 and 233 Hatch Street. All of the Lakeside Mills Historic District boundaries, which are building lot lines, are visually distinct. Broad expanses of green space extend beyond the east, south and west boundary lines. At the north edge of the Lakeside Mills Historic District, post-1940 development on the west side of Lakeside Avenue and a wooded area on the east side of the street mark the boundary. Small creeks run through the low-lying area north and east of the mill; the north branch was dammed to create the lake (no longer in existence) that was used in the generation of power for the mill. Other surviving Lakeside Mills houses east of the district, along Hatch Street beyond the east creek, are no longer an integral part of the village landscape due to intervening green space and their orientation toward later, unrelated development east of the village.
Within the Lakeside Mills Historic District, the factory buildings are situated in the northeast quadrant, separated by Lakeside Avenue from the majority of the houses clustered to the west; two houses are on the east side of Lakeside Avenue, just south of the mill tract. The factory buildings are on a gentle grade sloping downward to the north and east. Most of the houses are located at or near the crest of the hill, on Lakeside Avenue and Kent Street, with the remainder on Hatch Street on the lower lying area at the south edge of the district. Tall hardwoods stand in many of the yards, particularly on Kent Street and the west side of Lakeside Avenue. Most of the houses have a smattering of low foundation plantings and a few are enhanced by informal flower beds.
The mill complex consists of the factory, a combination office and cloth room, a superintendent's office, and a storage building. The mill and two offices resemble each other in their tall rectangular doors and windows (now boarded over or bricked in) set in segmental arches of paired headers. All of the mill complex structures have brick exteriors of one-to-five common bond, except for the small gable-roofed, storage building with walls of vertical boards. The other ancillary buildings also are modest in size. The tiny superintendent's office with a shallow hipped roof is distinguished by its main entrance on the east facade of double doors, each door containing two panels of tongue-and-groove boards placed on the diagonal.
Lakeside Mills is one of the five cotton mills established in Burlington by the descendants of cousins Peter and Edwin M. Holt between 1883 and 1892. Organized in 1892 by brothers Walter L., Edwin C., and Samuel M. Holt, it was instrumental in averting a financial crisis in the wake of the demise of the North Carolina Railroad repair and maintenance shops and contributed to Burlington's rise as a textile industry center of national importance. Of all of Burlington's late nineteenth century textile mills, Lakeside Mills is the least altered, its factory complex virtually intact. It is particularly noteworthy that the majority of the adjoining contemporary Lakeside Mills village is well preserved. Its original semi-rural quality marked by expanses of green space and an absence of later infill construction characterizes the neighborhood.
As the importance to Company Shops of the railroad maintenance and repair shops diminished after the North Carolina Railroad Company leased its line to the Richmond and Danville Railroad in 1871, the local textile industry's tremendous expansion offset a potential financial crisis. Alamance County's textile industry had been growing ever since Edwin M. Holt opened his mill on Little Alamance Creek in 1837. Due to the development of steam power which enabled mills to be located away from the streams and rivers that formerly had been the cotton mill machinery's sole power source, and to the convenient transportation afforded by the railroad, Company Shops became an ideal location for new mills. The burgeoning textile industry's steadily increasing need for labor was bringing an influx of new residents to the town as the railroad repair and maintenance shops were removed in 1886. Company Shops became Burlington in 1887, signalling the transformation of the town's character with its new economic base.
The driving forces behind Burlington's emergence as a textile manufacturing center of national importance were the family and descendants of Edwin M. Holt and his distant cousin, Peter F. Holt. In 1882, Peter Holt and others opened the town's first mill, Lafayette Cotton Mills, designed by Holt's son, textile technologist Lafayette Holt, and later acquired and redeveloped as a new mill by Edwin M. Holt's youngest son, Lawrence S. Holt. The four other mills established in Burlington by Edwin M. Holt's sons and grandsons between 1883 and 1892 included Lakeside Mills. It was founded by brothers Walter L. (1859-1913), Edwin C. (1861-1944), and Samuel M. Holt (1862-1924), said to have been a sea captain whom James H. Holt wished to keep at home.
The three Holt brothers learned the textile industry through their father, James H. Holt, Sr., the oldest of the three sons to whom Edwin M. Holt turned over his business interests in 1864. As the leader of E.M. Holt's Sons, James H. Holt, Sr., soon began expanding his own business interests, thus providing training and managerial positions for his seven sons. In 1880, he established Glencoe Cotton Mills on the Haw River, a little more than four miles north of Graham, where he installed his eldest sons, Walter L. and Edwin C. Holt, to learn the business. As their siblings came of age, the two brothers left Glencoe [see Glencoe Mill Village Historic District] in 1886 for Burlington to organize the W.L. and E.C. Holt Mill, later renamed the Elmira Cotton Mill. Four years later, two other sons of James H. Holt, Sr., established Windsor Cotton Mills.
In March 1893, Lakeside Mills was incorporated by Walter L. Holt, President, Edwin C. Holt, Secretary, and Samuel M. Holt, Vice President; the incorporation papers listed $50,000 of capital stock at $100 a share. According to Julian Hughes, the new mill was organized late in 1892, with construction of the factory being completed late in 1893 based upon designs of Lafayette Holt, who also planned the mill's machinery arrangement. It is likely that the mill houses on Lakeside Avenue, Kent Street, and Hatch Street were built at the same time to provide the necessary housing for the mill operatives. The Lakeside Mills tract was 27.72 acres, in the rural northern outskirts of Burlington, sold to the company for $2,000, one week after it was incorporated, by Walter L. Holt, who also owned additional large tracts at the north edge of the mill property. Lakeside Mills developed less than half of its property; the remainder was platted as narrow building lots, several of which were sold during the 1890s. R.J. Hall owned property east and south of the Lakeside tract and A.J. Hatch, for whom Hatch Street apparently was named, owned land at its southwest edge. The orientation of the one-story house at 223 Kent Street indicates that it existed prior to the development of Lakeside Mills, which adapted it for use as a mill house.
Lakeside Mills was considered to be a small operation, originally consisting of less then one hundred looms on which chambray cloth, the primary fabric for "Hickory" work shirts, was made. As the mill began to function in 1893, the price of cotton was low due to a financial panic. Samuel M. Holt, manager of the plant, bought enough cotton at the low price to supply the mill with the necessary raw material for a year. Lakeside's profits began increasing in the fall of 1894 when both the price of chambray and the number of working men wearing "Hickory" shirts rose. According to Julian Hughes, Lakeside's fortunes continued to grow thereafter. A special textile edition of the Raleigh News and Observer published in 1895 records that Lakeside Mills, in the suburbs of Burlington, had 147 looms and 3,300 spindles manufacturing "very popular styles of cheviots, sheetings, domets and plaids." Although the profit margin may have continued to increase or remained steady, apparently Lakeside experienced no further expansion. Consequently, very few mill houses were added to the original village and the majority of the Lakeside tract remained undeveloped for several decades. The strictly residential character of the mill's neighboring village was altered only with the early addition of the frame store at 228 Hatch Street, probably built privately.
After James H. Holt, Sr. died in 1897, some of his sons made career changes. When Samuel M. Holt left Burlington to go into ranching in Texas with his brother Ernest, James H. Holt, Jr., who had been directing Windsor Cotton Mills, took over the management of Lakeside. Lakeside Mills continued to sell lots at the periphery of its tract, including several to A.A. Apple, who became a minor stockholder of the firm. A January, 1919 issue of the Charlotte Observer states that Lakeside Mills had 3,472 spindles and 138 looms on which 75 operatives were producing cheviots and checks. W.P. Mooneyham was listed as superintendent, and it was noted that the former superintendent, George Lashley, had died in an influenza epidemic. The company's executives remained Edwin C. Holt, president, Robert L. Holt, vice president, and James H. Holt, secretary-treasurer and manager. Two months later, Lakeside executed an indenture with William Iselin and Co. of New York for the lease of warehouse space at the mill. The length of the lease is not known, and there is no indication that Lakeside's operations were curtailed. In March, 1923, just four months prior to the death of Robert L. Holt, the company amended its articles of incorporation to increase its "life and duration" from thirty to sixty years. A.A. Apple succeeded Robert L. Holt as secretary-treasurer.
After the death of James H. Holt in 1928, the scope of Lakeside Mills' operations was diminished. In November, 1934, Edwin C. Holt transferred to his sister, Daisy Holt Green of Charleston, South Carolina, all of the property that he was holding as the sole surviving trustee under the will of his father, James H. Holt, Sr. Included in this property were 288 shares of Lakeside Mills stock. By this time, Lakeside was operating on a very small scale as a subordinate of Glencoe Cotton Mills. In December, 1934, as the principal owner of Lakeside Mills, Daisy Holt Green deeded the company and its assets, including the original 27.72-acre tract less the lots that had been sold since 1893, to her three sons, Walter Guerry Green, Jr., J. Holt Green and Robert H. Green. On January 17, 1935, the Green brothers voluntarily dissolved Lakeside Mills Corporation. Thereafter a small spinning and weaving mill was operated in the Lakeside mill building as part of Glencoe Cotton Mills. 
Early in 1940, Walter G. Green, Jr., and Robert H. Green deeded their interests in the Lakeside Mills property to their brother, J. Holt Green. Over the next few years, J. Holt Green sold more than half of the-property as residential building lots. After his death in 1945, a casualty of World War II, the remainder of the Lakeside Mills tract reverted to the possession of Walter G., Jr. and Robert H. Green. The status of operation at the mill during the late 1940s and 1950s has not been ascertained. By 1960, the Greens owned only the mill tract, which they deeded to B. Tate and Geraldine M. Horton. In 1962, the Hortons, with partners Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Jeffries, Mr. and Mrs. Nimrod Harris, and Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Aldridge, leased the mill to Annedeen Hosiery Mills, Inc. of Burlington, which they owned. On February 5, 1962, the Greensboro Daily News reported, "The old Lakeside Mill was renovated under new ownership during the year and plans call for the addition of new employees." Annedeen maintained a small operation with about thirty employees at Lakeside for almost two decades. Annedeen Hosiery, Inc., under new ownership in 1979, purchased the Lakeside mill tract from the Hortons, Jeffries, Harrises and Mr. Aldridge and converted the mill to a warehouse. Early in 1983, Annedeen sold the Lakeside mill tract to Mr. and Mrs. Hooper Harris, who plan to preserve the mill as they expand their small dyeing and finishing operation here.
The structures, of course, are closely related to the surrounding environment. Archeological remains, such as trash pits, wells, and structural remains, which may be present, can provide information valuable to the understanding and interpretation of the structures. Information concerning use patterns as well as structural details are often evident only in the archeological record. Therefore, archeological remains may well be an important component of the significance of the Lakeside Mills Historic District.
(Some of the information used in this nomination was gathered by Allison Harris.)
† Claudia P. Roberts, consultant, City of Burlington, Lakeside Mills Historic District, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.