The Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts is one of Atlanta’s greatest landmarks. I was eager to tour the inside after driving by so many times without ever going inside. I highly suggest taking a tour. The staff was very accommodating and the main building is filled with plenty of old pictures, historical information, and artifacts.
It is impossible to drive down Boulevard without seeing the tall slender smoke stacks and the large imposing water tower.
The 1880’s saw a huge growth in the manufacturing of textiles in the south due to cheap labor and the abundance of cotton. Construction began on what would be known as the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills in 1881. Jacob Elsas founded and presided over the company until 1913. The company was very profitable, and began expanding in 1897 to cities like New Orleans, St. Louis, Brooklyn, Dallas, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Denver. The company specialized in the manufacture of cotton and burlap bags as well as twine. Below are two front covers of price lists of company products, circa 1900. These are on display in what is now the leasing office for the Cotton Mill Lofts. The second picture is of a hallway on the first floor of the main building. One can imagine how different this picture would have looked if it were taken while the mill was operational. What is now made up of small lofts was once filled with gigantic machinery and thousands of workers.
The mill employed over 2,500 workers at its peak. The neighborhood we Atlantans know as Cabbagetown today was originally called Fulton Mill Village. It was constructed along with the mill in 1881 and gradually increased in size over time. Those who lived in the Village were provided with a private security force, garbage collection, and lawn care. After the mill was closed in 1977 the neighborhood steadily declined until it was revitalized in the 1990’s.
In the images below are what is still left of what was once an elevated railway that allowed trains to pull up right in front of the mill. I was unaware of its existence until I stumbled upon the old concrete support beams while touring the grounds. Although the mill was renovated and turned into lofts in 1997, many remnants of the old mill still remain. Pictures of the old railway while it was still operational can be seen in the leasing office.
Below is an old cotton gin put on display next to the Carroll Street entrance.
In March of 2008, a tornado swept through Atlanta and did severe damage to several buildings in Cabbagetown, including my place of work. Below is an image I took shortly after the tornado hit.
The Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts is truly one of Atlanta’s historical gems. When it was an operational mill it was a large part of the city’s economic resurgence after the Civil War. It is very historically significant to the city. Not only does it serve as a landmark to Atlantans, but it also contains a wide range of history about the city and the neighborhood of Cabbagetown.
Barth, Gunther. City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
http://www.livefultoncottonmill.com/Apartments/module/property_info/property[id]/2916/#property_description (accessed November 16, 2011).
Teaford, Jon C. The Metropolitan Revolution: The Rise of Post-Urban America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.
Additional information obtained from the leasing office of the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts.