Hopedale Pond - January,  2013

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                                                     If I Were Building a Mill Village

    The following paragraphs are from a booklet titled If I Were Building a Mill, which was a reprint of
    contest entries submitted to the Southern Textile Bulletin in 1921. Of course the mill village was a
    minor part of the articles, but for the present purpose, it’s probably the part of most interest. There’s no
    way to know if the gentlemen submitting entries would really have built villages similar to what they
    wrote about, if they had the opportunity. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see what they considered
    would be the ideal place for mill workers and their families to live.

    The houses should be of the 3 and 4 room cottage type and of sufficient number to avoid crowding too
    many hands in one house. The houses should have front and back porches, with running water in
    them and a sanitary toilet and bath on the back porches. The houses, where possible, should have 30
    feet of space between, with lots 75 feet deep. This makes an ideal garden plot and flowers can be
    planted between house, keeping all weeds and vegetable matter away from front of houses and

    No village is complete without a house of worship, where mills are not near a city. When near cities,
    the mill churches are usually worked as missions and there are many mill people who do not want to
    go to city churches because their personal appearances do not measure up to the styles. I have seen
    instances in churches where the mill people were looked upon as being foreign and people did not
    want to get too close to them. In every mill village, a good kindergarten for the grown people as well as
    the children is a great help, for they learn many things they otherwise would not, as they do not come
    in personal contact with the world as the average persons do. T. W. Harvey, Millen, Georgia.

    In the village I would build 3, 4, 5 and 6-room houses, bungalow type, single story, with fireproof roofs,
    each home to have water and light, and built on a plot of ground 100 x 200 feet and each enclosed by
    fence. Each house would have bath, sink, lavatory and stool. When repairs were necessary from
    carelessness of tenants they would be charged with part of repair cost.

    The village would have the following public buildings: Two churches, union, one school building
    graded for eight grades, one community building. The latter would have an auditorium for moving
    pictures and lectures; gymnasium which would also serve as dancing floor and skating rink; reading
    room for all; bowling alley, shower baths and banquet room.

    A community garden would be planted each year for boys and girls under 16 years and prizes
    awarded for the best plots. Seeds, tool, fertilizers would be furnished by the company and planting and
    cultivating directed by an employee of the company.

    A community greenhouse would be maintained by the company for the preservation of pot flowers of
    the employees, and plants and flowers would also be sold for gardening and beautifying. A civic
    league would be formed and maintained in the village for the purpose of eliminating undesirable
    tenants and to stimulate hygienic and social conditions. J. W. Gibson, Atlanta, Georgia

    This is a part that should be considered well, as the class and contentment of the operatives
    determines to a great extent the profits of a mill. I would build substantial houses of 3, 4 and 5 rooms.
    I would build a number of 3-room houses, as they are in demand more now than any other size
    house. W. H. Gibson, San Antonio, Texas.

    At this point I’m just going to use just a sentence or two from a few more entries. Otherwise it would be
    getting repetitious with many more references to number of rooms, lot size, electricity, etc.

    On the outer edge of the village there would be the wash stations. One station to a given number of
    families for the family wash.

    I would want them to have a progressive environment. Then people who would do well for themselves
    would do well for me.

    I would have rules in regard to the care of the premises posted in each house. I would read the rules
    to all help before they moved in and thereby have a definite understanding for maintaining all
    premises in good order.

    I would erect a community building for the secret orders of both the men and women and a well
    furnished club room for the amusement of the boys and girls. I would also install swimming pools,
    having them separate for the boys and girls.

    I would build a day nursery to take care of the children whose mothers worked.

    I would build two churches, one Baptist, one Methodist, one laundry run by the company; also an ice
    plant to furnish ice at a reasonable price.

    I would leave 24 feet space between houses to lessen the danger of fire. This would enable me to get
    cheaper fire insurance.

    I would place garbage cans at the rear of each house in order that the premises might be kept as neat
    and clean as possible.

    If capital prevented installing a sewer system at the time of building, arrangements would be made as
    to make it possible at a future time.

    The first prize winner of the contest was D. W. League of Greenville, South Carolina. He limited his
    suggestions for the village to one sentence. “The village should be of modern type with special
    attention given to sanitary, lighting, social and spiritual features.”

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