An enthusiastic overflow crowd of approximately 200 people turned out for a November 20 presentation about the history of Swannanoa’s Beacon mill. The event, titled “Beacon Blankets: Portrait of a Swannanoa Textile Mill,” was held at Asheville’s Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. Participants were treated to an evening of film, music, and stories about the rise and fall of the Beacon Manufacturing Company, which was once the largest blanket manufacturer in the world, employing as many as 2,200 people.
The program began with mill-inspired music written and performed by Robert “Bert” Brown, a native of Swannanoa, whose grandparents worked at Beacon. Filmmaker Rebecca Williams showed clips from her ongoing documentary project, Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of an American Mill Town, which uses the Beacon mill as the backdrop for examining the migration of the textile industry from England, to New England, to the American South, and, with the advent of globalization, overseas. The screening was followed by a lively panel discussion with former Beacon mill employees and local historian David Whisnant.
The Beacon mill program received significant pre-event coverage from the Asheville Citizen-Times. To read the AC-T’s article about the history and legacy of the mill, please click here.
If you’d like to learn more about the Blanket Town documentary, or make a tax deductible contribution to help support the film’s completion, please go to beaconmilldocumentary.blogspot.com.
This commemorative Beacon blanket was on display at the Beacon history event at Asheville’s
Center for Craft, Creativity and Design.