The Mill's History
Construction of the Eno Cotton Mill began in 1896. It was strategically built along the Eno River, which provided power, and along the railroad, which provided the means of delivering both raw cotton to the mill and finished products to the customers. The mill began operating in late 1897 as a 10,000 spindle yarn mill, adding 350 looms for weaving ginghams and plaid cloth in 1904. In 1913, the Eno Cotton Mill began selling its yarn-dyed fabrics, ginghams, chambray, and denim through Cone Export Commission Company.
In 1926, The Cone Mills Companies acquired 40% of the Eno Cotton Mill. The mill installed new machinery in 1929, enabling it to begin weaving combed yarn broadcloths. The major products of the mill became broadcloth, shirting, and corduroy.
In 1952 the Eno Mill (subsidiary) became part of Cone Mills, Incorporated, of Greensboro.
WWII and the Mill
During World War II, production was shifted to produce the heavier cloth needed by the Army. Because of the Mill's importance to the war efforts, many mill workers were exempted from the draft.
By 1953 the plant had 30,000 spindles and 676 looms, operated three shifts a day and employed 600 people. Approximately half of the employees were women. The company provided 148 houses for its workers; employees not accommodated in the mill villages lived in Hillsborough and the surrounding countryside.
In the mid-1950's the mill was renovated and expanded. In 1956 most of the mill houses were moved to West Hillsborough and the close-by unincorporated area of the city.
The Eno Mill closed in 1984. In December of 1986, Cone Mills gave the town of Hillsborough approximately 29 acres, including the mill village site. It was developed into what is now the Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area.
In 1988 the Gold family acquired the Eno Mill from Cone Mills. The family operated the property as The Hillsborough Business Center. They leased space for a wide variety of uses including laboratories, light manufacturing and office space.
In 1995 the Gold family donated about 30 acres of land adjacent to the Mill, which the town developed into Gold Park.
In 2008, the Hillsborough Business Center partnered with Hedgehog Holdings, LLC of Raleigh, a historic property and leasing company, and relaunched as the Eno River Mill.
In 2011, The Eno River Mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is currently undergoing historic renovation work.
The Eno River Mill has a wide variety of tenants, including The Expedition School, the Eno Arts Mill, and many others. Please visit the Tenant Directory page for information and links to our current tenants.