Company Housing Designs in the South

Company Housing Designs in the South: Progressives, Planners and Practice

By Sara Lachenman, 2004

Investigating the ideas behind the mill towns of the South is a task that involves looking beyond the houses themselves and into the texts written at the time. The turn of the century brought with it new ideology throughout the manufacturing industries, and while the concepts took some time to make it to the Southern textile mills, they brought with them a new era of village design and management. The old methods of Paternalism, where the mill owner “may in a spirit of genuine benevolence believe that the living conditions of his employees can best be improved by his direct intervention” (Hamlin, 3), gave way to welfare work, Progressivism, and professional design.

The textile industry began in the United States in the early 19th century in the Northeast; the patterns set there continued for another hundred years. Much of the American mill system was created in reaction to the English textile industry, where large cities such as Manchester were overrun by poor, destitute factory families. American industry sought solutions to the multifaceted problems created by this working class, and gradually found different ways of attempting to keep employees happy and housed…

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