Spindale celebrates 100 years of history

A story of resilience and hard work weaves through the history of the town of Spindale like a thread of the human spirit, and this year the Rutherford County town celebrates its centennial anniversary. Many activities focusing on not only history but the future are planned for Saturday, August 5 starting at 11 a.m. on the lawn of the Spindale House in downtown. We asked several town officials and longtime residents for their thoughts on the milestone:

  1. With Spindale celebrating its momentous birthday, what’s one of your favorite memories of the town and what it means to you?
    Amy Taylor, librarian: “Many good childhood memories of mine originated in Spindale and at the Spindale Public Library. My aunt was my summer babysitter and I, along with my cousins and some neighborhood kids, would walk to the library for summer reading programs and to check out books. Ironically, all these years later, I am the Librarian and have been working here for 28 years.
    Mickey Bland, Spindale Mayor: “My favorite memories are the old Spindale Pool, Keller’s Cafe on Spindale St., the Spindale House and the Spindale Drug fountain and the textile mills with the workers.”
    Lou Gilliam, Town Commissioner and chairman of the Centennial Committee: “Riding my bike all over our neighborhood with no worries. All parents looked out for all the kids.”
  2. What’s one of the biggest changes to town that you have personally witnessed during your time living here?
    AT: “The downturn in the economy, the closing of the mills and the toll it took on Spindale.”
    MB: “The loss of the textile industry…Spindale was the location for many jobs in Rutherford County and produced fabric sold around the world.”
    LG: ” The biggest thing I have witnessed would be all the textile mills still in operation then shutting down. Three of the largest: Spindale Mills took up and entire city block and the building is visible from Main Street. Stonecutter Mills and Mastercraft both had 2 or more locations. Sad to see those buildings empty or torn down.”
  3. What’s one of the biggest historical changes that is momentous but you may not have witnessed it personally?
    MB: “Actual incorporation of the town in 1923 was a significant historical event.”
    LG: “I was in the 4th grade when the schools integrated. I started at Spindale Elementary for the first and second grades. I was at Ruth Elementary 3-8. Ruth stayed 1-8 eventually K-8. Spindale and other schools became K-5. The sixth grades went to other schools.”
  4. What activities are planned for the celebration and what are the dates and times of those events?
    AT: “The library will host a children’s storytime 5 times (at the top of the afternoon hours) as well as the book signing of Robin Lattimore’s upcoming book and merchandise sales of Spindale T shirts, coins and commemorative knives.”
    LG: “Food, classic cars, music by many groups including Avery Roberson who was a contestant on The Voice.”
  5. If you could go back and change one thing about the town’s history, what would you change and why?
    MB: “If I could change part of the history, I would want to see textiles in Spindale have remained a viable industry to continue our past heritage. It was like a death in the family when the last textile mill closed. There use to be thousands of people pass through Spindale daily on their way to and from work in the mills. All times of day and night.”
    LG: “There are some things that in the past could have been done differently but at the time the folks who stepped up to serve the town made the decisions they thought were right. And at that time, they probably were. No one could have imagined hundreds would lose their jobs and all the plants, not just textiles, would pack up and leave.”
  6. Where does Spindale go from here? What does the future hold for the town?
    AT: “I see Spindale continually moving forward and adapting as it has after the economic downturn in order to thrive in the next 100 years.”
    MB: “Spindale is making strides for the future with our new streetscape having been completed, anticipation of further improvements since we have received along with Rutherfordton, a 20 million dollar Raise grant, neighborhood revitalization projects such as the Pennsylvania St. area, and the skatepark project. I see the Rails to Trails bringing more people to enjoy shopping and dining in Spindale.”
    LG: “I want to see continued growth, especially in the housing market. We need houses. Numerous houses are empty because kids don’t want to sell their birth place but let it sit and rot to the ground. That is really the sad part.”
    Zachary Parker, planning and zoning administrator for town of Spindale, added, “Located in the Blue Ridge Foothills, Spindale’s welcoming community spirit is accented by the scenic beauty that surrounds the town. A drive through Main Street is rewarded with picturesque views of lush mountain vistas and a parade of Bradford Pear trees that announce the annual arrival of spring. Selected by the North Carolina Department of Commerce as a participant of the 2019 Downtown Strong Initiative, Spindale is pushing forward to an exciting future.”
    The town also hosts one of the area’s most successful “Rails to Trails” initiatives having repurposed its former railroad line into the Thermal Belt Rail Trail, which runs the entire length of the town often parallel to Main Street.
    The historic 1849 Spindale House, formerly the Coxe Plantation Home built by Colonel Franklin Coxe, still stands as the community center of the town, evolving from home seat to memorial building to the present-day recreation center treasured by the entire county.

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