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Carrboro - A brief history

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Carrboro was settled in 1882 around the State University Railroad. The local merchants stipulated that the railroad station had to be at least two miles outside of town in order to discourage students from leaving on the weekends and spending their money elsewhere.

Settlement in West End increased after Thomas F. Lloyd of Chapel Hill built the Alberta Cotton Mill next to the railroad depot in 1898. Julian Shakespeare Carr bought this and other nearby buildings in 1909, adding them to the network of mills that became the Durham Hosiery Mills.

West End was incorporated in 1911 and renamed Venable in honor of chemistry professor and UNC president Francis Preston Venable. Just two years later, the town was renamed Carrboro after Carr began providing streets and electric power to the community and expanding the mill buildings. The original mill changed hands several times over the succeeding decades, closing in 1930.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen intended to have it demolished in 1975 until a community petition and fund-raising effort provided for its restoration as Carr Mill Mall. Today, this restored Mall is one of the most unique in the Triangle, offering shops, art galleries and artisan crafts in a fully renovated industrial style architectural Mill building.

The railroad depot in Carrboro also served the local lumber industry, and Carrboro became a major hub in the hardwood cross-tie market.

Some of the most distinctive architectural treasures of Carrboro are its approximately 150 mill houses constructed in the 1910s-30s. Twenty-eight of the remaining mill homes have been restored and coveted, since numerous ones have been razed. The homes were originally built by Lloyd and Carr for their workers and their families.

The relationship of Carrboro to Chapel Hill is similar to that of the East End to New York City. This distinctive community is home to visionaries, artists, writers and musicians, who collectively transform the spirit of the town into a hub for artistic creativity, cultural diversity and free thinking.

 

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