Mill History

For 200 years, the site of the Rocky Mount Mills in Rocky Mount, N.C., has been a defining feature of the community’s natural and built environment.  There the long history of the state’s coastal plain has been enacted: as a riverine resource for American Indians and early European settlers, as a site of industrial slave labor, as a nexus of plantation cotton production, as one of the largest textile operations in the state, as a racially segregated mill community, as the center of a way of life for thousands of white families over many generations, as the site of an important civil rights victory, and since 1996 as a shuttered reminder of the collapse of the state’s most important industry for more than a century.  The mill was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980; the mill village in 1999

Want to know more about the site’s history? Read on.

Insurance Map, 31 August 1962 / Courtesy of the Southern Historical Collection


  • built in 1818 and closed operations in 1996
  • the city of Rocky Mount grew around the mill
  • was burned down twice (1863, 1869) and rebuilt
  • spun fabric for Confederate uniforms
  • was built by slaves and utilized slave labor until 1852
  • bought by Capitol Broadcasting Corp. in 1997 and re-opening in 2018
  • took advantage of hydropower from the Tar River
  • established by the Battle Family, prominent figures in state history
  • air conditioning was added in the 1960s


Rocky Mount Mills History Resource Guide