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Thomasville City

Thomasville City Hall is located at 10 Salem Street, Thomasville, NC 27360; phone: 336-475-4210.

Mitchell House, ca. 1885, 411 Biggs Avenue, Thomasville, NC, National Register

Photo: Mitchell House, ca. 1885, 411 Biggs Avenue, Thomasville, NC. Named for Reverend John Mitchell, this was the first cottage on the Mills Home Campus, completed in 1885 to house girls at the orphanage. The home is now a museum. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Photographed by User:Hennap (own work), 2008, [cc-by-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed April, 2015.

Beginnings [1]

Located on the eastern edge of Davidson County in piedmont North Carolina, Thomasville is a railroad and industrial city of approximately 25,000 residents. State Senator and railroad booster John W. Thomas (1800-1871) established the town that took his name in 1852 specifically to take advantage of the coming of the long-awaited North Carolina Railroad that connected eastern North Carolina with Charlotte. On November 9, 1855, the first train arrived in Thomasville to the enthusiastic celebration of a crowd of 5,000. In 1857 the town of Thomasville was incorporated, with corporate limits of one square mile centered on the railroad's water station. In 1893 these physical dimensions were extended by a quarter mile in each direction.

Thomasville developed primarily as an industrial town. During the 19th-century, small scale industry was diversified, though by the end of the century, the town had become known for its manufacture of shoes. This gave way in the 20th-century to the primacy of furniture manufacturing, which evolved from a single 19th-century chair factory. Thomasville became famous as the "Chair Town of the South," celebrated in 1922 by the installation of "The Big Chair" — claimed to be the largest chair in the world — along the railroad tracks in the center of town. [This chair was removed because of deterioration in 1936 and was replaced by the present chair in 1950]

Thomasville's industry spurred the growth of the town's commerce as well as housing and a variety of community amenities. The distribution of electricity began in 1902, and the first sidewalk was laid in 1905. The following year, Salem Street was macadamized as far as West Guilford Street, and by 1925 Thomasville had fifteen miles of concrete sidewalks and thirteen miles of hard-surfaced streets. In 1911 the town completed construction of a 100,000-gallon water tank, and by 1912 water and sewer lines had been laid. As Thomasville grew, progress in the development of the town's infrastructure continued at a rapid pace.

  1. Laura W. Phillips, Architectural Historian, Consultant to the City of Thomasville, Salem Street Historic District, Davidson County, NC, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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