Textile Mills

Wake County, North Carolina

Falls of the Neuse Manufacturing, Raleigh

Located in north Raleigh, well beyond Millbrook and northwest of Neuse, the first mill built for textile manufacturing actually began life as a paper mill in 1855 and operated as Falls of the Neuse Manufacturing.   Josephus Daniels, owner of the Raleigh News & Observer, said it produced the finest paper east of Charlotte.   A handsome three-story granite building survives to this day as a condominium with 34 residences.  A fire in 1871 destroyed the mill but it was rebuilt and continued operation as a paper mill until conversion in 1896 to textiles.  The names changed over the years: Neuse River Manufacturing Co., Neuse River Cotton, Diana Cotton; and finally Erwin Mills.  Textile operations, mainly warehousing, discontinued in 1959.


Letterhead used in 1882 by the owners of this mill and a mill in Alamance County. This image appears to be that of the Alamance County mill.






Historic photo of 1900 showing mill race and north and west side of the mill






The Gant House occupied in 1895-1900 era by mill owner, James Alpheus Askew and his wife, Mary Bullock Askew and their children, Charles T., Mabel E., Jennie K., Rena B., and Mary E.
Photo: Robert Askew



Falls of the Neuse Manufacturing Co., located just below the dam for Raleigh’s current water supply. 2008





Granite walls survived for over 150 years. 34 condos occupy site. 2008
Images:  Gary Mock





Cotton Mill, Raleigh

The original mill was built in several stages in 1890 and expanded in 1895. The building was originally a portal for the rail freight line on the east side. Once the active textile processing closed, other uses for the property have included warehousing for a variety of goods including carpets, and bicycles.  Residential renovation for 50 condominiums was completed in 1996.

The Cotton Mill Condominiums operated as a textile mill from 1890.  Renovated in 1996.  Image: Cotton Mill Condos









The Pilot Mill, Raleigh

The Raleigh News & Observer ran a special issue in 1895  which celebrated the wonderful textile mills in the state and was especially effusive of Alamance County contributions. “The Pilot Mill of Raleigh is one of these.  It was erected in 1892 by Capt. James N. Williamson and Mr. Wm. H. Williamson, of Graham, and Mr. O. H. Foster, of Raleigh.  The mill was built within a stone’s throw of the railroad running north and east out of town.

Pilot Cotton Mills, Raleigh, NC coming from the personals page of the Boston Journal of Commerce  and Textile Industries Saturday, August 18, 1900.  Source: Peter Metzke

When Pilot Mill was purchased in 1999, it was a vacant, literally collapsing, group of buildings located between a revitalized 1920’s neighborhood, Peace College, and an unsafe public housing project. While the City of Raleigh had plans for a new 336-unit Hope IV project, which would replace the existing public housing, the project had stalled. It would take 1½ years for the project to come to fruition with the help of the Pilot Mill developer, Peace College, the Housing Authority, and the public housing residents. As the Hope IV project, began, scaled back to 140-160 units and changed to include some market rate, elderly, and disabled housing, Frank Gailor began the renovation of Pilot for use as a charter school and offices. The challenge for the Pilot renovation was always keeping up with the progress on the Hope IV construction. While Downtown Raleigh had a 7% vacancy rate and city-wide the vacancies were at 12%, Pilot Mill has never had any speculative space for rent. Currently new residential construction on the adjacent site of the former mill village is selling for $225 – $350,000. $100 million dollars has been spent in a 40 block area and as a stabilizer and early project, Pilot Mill has helped trigger an increase of $50 million + in the private property tax base of the area.

Pilot Mill before and after renovation. Currently occupied by Raleigh Charter High School and offices.




Interior of mill before restoration.
Source: Preservation North Carolina website





The Fred Whitaker Cotton Mill, Raleigh

In 1999, Raleigh’s last working textile mill closed, bringing to an end a century-old chapter of local history. The mill has reopened as a condominium and a new chapter is being written. Historic preservationLocated in the historic Caraleigh district of Raleigh, the 1893 Fred Whitaker Cotton Mill, has been totally renovated and opened as Caraleigh Mills.  

The former Fred Whitaker Cotton Mill is now Caraleigh Mills condominiums.
Image:  Caraleigh Mills website










Caraleigh Mills is located inside the beltline on the southernmost edge of downtown Raleigh, not far from NC State’s Centennial Campus, and just down the street from the North Carolina Farmers Market.  

1909 City Directory
















  1. http://www.rivermill.org Accessed December 23, 2008
  2. http://www.cottonmill.info/ Accessed February 14, 2008
  3. http://www.presnc.org/Mill_Reuse_Website/studies/Pilot%20Mill.htm Accessed February 14, 2008
  4. http://www.caraleighmills.com/ Accessed February 14, 2008