Coleridge was the home of the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, the southern most cotton mill built on Deep River. Its construction in 1882 was the final link in the chain of Randolph County’s water-powered textile industries that had begun to be forged in 1836.
The company was organized by H.A. Moffitt, an Asheboro merchant, and Daniel Lambert and James A. Cole, prominent citizens of southeastern Randolph. The original structure was a two-and-one-half-story, wooden building housing 800 spindles and 26 workers. The facilities of the corporation included a wool-carding mill, saw mill, and flour mill.
The surrounding village was known first as Cole’s Ridge and then as Coleridge, after James A. Cole, who in 1904 sold a majority interest in the company to his son-in-law, Dr. Robert L. Caveness. By 1917 it was said that “R. L. Caveness is at the head of practically everything in Coleridge,” and it was under his influence that the brick mill facilities were built. The factory (built in the 1920′s) is of utilitarian design with Tudor Revival entrance towers. The company store, bending mill, and warehouse (all built circa 1910), and the company office and Bank of Coleridge (built in the 1920′s) were all constructed in the Romanesque Revival style. Caveness also directed the town’s only other industry, the Coleridge Manufacturing Company, which made parts of bentwood chairs.
The Concord Methodist Church was built in Coleridge in 1887. Just behind the church building was located the Coleridge Academy, which included a room for the Masonic Lodge. The academy was formed in 1890 from two smaller schools, and closed in 1936. The Bank of Coleridge was founded in 1919, opened a branch in Ramseur in 1934, and moved there in 1939. The Enterprise Roller Mill, grinding wheat with steel rollers instead of stones, was the first roller mill in Randolph County. Its “Our Leader” flour was a popular brand. Dr. Caveness remained involved in the mill's operation, although he tried to return to his medical practice in 1922.
In 1959 the mill boasted 6,000 spindles and 150 employees, manufacturing cotton or knitting yarn and twine. In 1951, Dr. Caveness died and the business immediately began to decline. His heirs sold out to Boaz Mills of Alabama in 1954, and in 1958 the mill was closed and the equipment sold off. The buildings have since been used as warehouse space.
The village was Randolph County’s first historic district, and has been placed on the National Register or Historic Places. Its 1970 nomination stated that “the chief appeal of this site is as a picturesque example of a riverside mill seen in one of North Carolina’s oldest manufacturing sections.”
Entry originally appeared at Notes on the History of Randolph County, NC. Reprinted with permission of the author, http://randolphhistory.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/coleridge/ (accessed November 16, 2011).
By Mac Whatley,
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