Henry River Mill Village is a small textile village in Burke County, North Carolina. It is a conserved but now-decaying representation of a historic industrial environment in Burke County.
The structures from the Henry River mill village that are still standing today are reminders of the county's industrial past.
The village was designed as a self-contained complex with its mill, dam, water and fire-protection systems, and company store. Later, amenities including sidewalks, terraced green areas, and field stone retaining walls were added to the village.
Most of the village's original structures are still standing today, and they are located along a small Henry River gorge just west of Catawba County, North Carolina.
The site is private property, however, it is accessible via Henry River Road. It may be accessed from Interstate 40 by an exit close to Hildebran. In 2019, the location was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games (2012) movie's "District 12" sequences were filmed at the 72-acre village. After the movie's premiere, The SyFy Channel's "Hollywood Treasure" program valued the property's value at more than $1.2 million and accepted bids (failed) to sell it. In 2012, a book describing the community's residents was released.
The mill and settlement were built in 1904 on a 1,500-acre parcel selected for its hydropower potential by Michael Erastus Rudisill. Along with David William Aderholdt, Miles R. Rudisill, and Marcus Lafayette Aderholdt, Rudisill and his brother Albert Pinkney Rudisill developed the village and designed the dam and mill building.
The mill was incorporated as the Henry River Manufacturing Company. The business produced high-quality cotton yarns. A three-story brick mill building and a 30-foot reinforced concrete dam were built starting in 1905. In the mill's early years, 4,000 spindles for producing yarn were in use.
The mill had 12,000 spindles when it closed in the late 1960s, and it produced excellent combed yarn for lace.
There were about 35 little worker's cottages in the village's residential sector. These one-and-a-half-story duplex homes were built along the sloping northern bank of the river. The company created boarding houses or worker cottages, which were rented to the workers for small rates.
The Rudisills and the Aderholdts, the four mill owners, began construction on new residences for themselves outside the village around 1907. Three of the four homes remain in existence today, despite one of them burning down in 1935.
The two-story brick company store structure has taken the place of the village's main mill building since its destruction. From 1907 to 1917, the ground level of this structure housed a mill office, while the top story housed a classroom and a place of worship.
The Rudisills designed a steel truss bridge that crossed the Henry River in 1912. It was reportedly the tallest bridge in the state when it was erected. This bridge was one of the few that survived the 1916 flood unscathed. The steel truss bridge was replaced with a modern concrete bridge in 1960.
The Henry River Mill was first powered by water. A steam plant was put in place in 1914, and the mill was switched over to electric power in 1926. Wade Shepherd bought the mill in 1976 after it had shuttered in 1971. When the mill burnt in 1977, lightning was thought to be the culprit; Shepherd owned other mills and intended to rehabilitate the building.
The village and mill were included in the National Register of Historic Places North Carolina Study List. The Burke County Partners in Economic Development's Heritage Preservation Committee started looking into the possibility of developing the historic site before the end of 2002.
Residents purchased the abandoned land in 2017 to establish a "Henry River Mill Village Business District" to celebrate the site's history.
Late in 2017, a tornado damaged the corporate store, but because vandals had shattered the windows, releasing air pressure, substantial damage to the building was prevented. The structure will house a restaurant, according to the new owner. Twenty of the thirty-five mill houses remained, and twelve more were to be built for tourist use. Artifacts from the mill would be kept in a museum.