An Uncomfortable Memorialization: Remembering Textile Industrialization in the South
Lawrence, Rebekah Hope
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This thesis explores landscape's framing role in memorialization through a discussion of southeastern United States mill villages. This paper moves the preservation discussion from the architectural realm of an isolated textile mill building to the scale of the landscape encompassing the entire infrastructure of mill life. The beginning of the 20th century witnessed the transformation of the piedmont region of South Carolina from a farmland of sharecroppers to the cotton textile center of the nation. This rapid industrialization altered rolling landscape and winding creeks into a series of mill villages and dammed waterways connecting larger cities of neighborhood mills. The beginning of the 21st century is witnessing another transformation, the shuttering of those mills because of globalization and a trend toward adaptive reuse into luxury apartments. While this form of preservation rescues a portion of the deteriorating memory infrastructure, it threatens to distort or erase the unique relationship between mill and mill village by romanticizing mill life and brushing over the complex history of labor present in those spaces. The landscape reveals that the mills channeled not only human labor, but also the work force of nature through dams regulating waterways. Like the social restructuring of the mills, this restructuring of nature had impacts: disturbed ecologies, toxic sedimentation, and altered waterways. Investigation proceeds through a research and design process. Research includes creating a spatial data set of the mills in the South Carolina piedmont region from a list in the 1930 edition of Clark's directory of southern textile mills. This mapping along with watershed analysis determines a specific mill site for intervention along a waterway where dams have impaired the natural ecology. The design explores the potential of revising or removing the mill dam, a piece of memory infrastructure, and wrestles with the balance of preservation and ecological restoration.
- Masters Theses