John Shearer: Old Lupton City Mill Going Down, But Parts To Be Reused

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - by John Shearer
At the old Dixie Yarns’ Lupton City mill where hundreds of employees once operated spindles to make yarn materials, no more than about two equipment operators were doing a different kind of pulling and tugging Tuesday morning.

Amid the empty and cavernous brick complex that is now closed, they could be seen through the fences slowly taking apart and tearing down the historic old main mill building with the help of moving machinery.

Despite the roar of one front-loader, the scene still had the feel of a very quiet end for what had once been a grand plant that employed countless Chattanoogans.


It also marks the disappearance of another landmark important in the life of former Coca-Cola bottling tycoon J.T. Lupton, whose mammoth Lyndhurst home in Riverview was razed more than 50 years ago.

Mr. Lupton had invested with some local textile men in the Dixie Mercerizing Co. more than 90 years ago, and the Lupton City plant and surrounding residences and company buildings were built on land the millionaire owned.

Peachtree City, Ga.-based building owner Christian Morton, who bought the closed mill complex in April 2012, said over the telephone that he is having the building taken down and the site completely cleared.

After that, he hopes the land can be marketed through the Raines Group as a possible future apartment or senior living complex, he added.

However, while the landmark will disappear, at least as generations of Chattanoogans have known it, many of the materials will not. Mr. Morton said the historic bricks, antique heart pine materials and other amenities of the building will not just end up in a landfill, but will be reused in construction and other projects.

“We are a deconstruction company,” he said. “We buy buildings to deconstruct. We are taking it down and preserving it piece by piece.”

He said the bricks will be sold for the construction of coastal homes, the heart pine could be used to construct furniture or antique-style barns, and the steel can be recycled.

“We look to yesterday’s history and introduce it to today’s society,” he added.

While the deconstruction has been slow and deliberate to separate carefully the materials, the construction of the building in the 1920s came with much more hastiness.

While Dixie Mercerizing’ processing plant and main offices were on Watkins Street in Ridgedale, the spinning plant in Lupton City was an important part of the operation when it was constructed with much enthusiasm.

As was popular to do at the time, the Lupton City mill also featured a company town around it with stores and residences. Many of the modest residences are still standing, as is the BlueCross and BlueShield of Tennessee-owned golf course property surrounding it.

The unique and small community post office was also an important part of the mill, and it operated until recently.

Also enjoyed by the larger public along with the golf course and post office was the vintage gymnasium, which was still standing as of Tuesday. Numerous recreation and church leagues from areas north of the Tennessee River and perhaps beyond used the facility over the years.

Next to the gym for years was a now-gone outdoor pool.


The Dixie company – which changed its name to Dixie Yarns in 1964 -- used the mercerizing process, an innovation that made yarn and fabric stronger and easier to dye by altering the chemical structure.

The Lupton City mill began operating in 1923 with 12,000 spindles and nearly tripled its production capacity within a couple of years.

For a long time, Dixie Yarns was headed by J. Burton Frierson, whose son, Dan Frierson, is the chairman of Dixie Group, a company that now focuses on the manufacture of floor coverings.

After Dixie Yarns vacated the Lupton City mill in 1998, R.L. Stowe later began operating out of the massive facility before the plant was closed in 2009.

Mr. Morton said it would have been hard to resell the Lupton City property as a light industrial plant, as the large upper floor could not support extra heavy weight.

But as far as the mill’s role in Chattanooga business and industrial history, the Lupton City mill was known as a real heavyweight, a look at its history reveals.

Jcshearer2@comcast.net


Shuptrine's To Have Exhibit Featuring Billy Parker

Shuptrine's will display works by local artist Billy Parker during November and December with an open house on Thursday, Nov. 5, from 5-8 p.m. Watercolor paintings loaded with whimsy and color are the focal point of this exhibit.  Displaying scenes from everyday life, past and present, the paintings provide the viewer with a view of Southern life. Life-long Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Whitfield County Offers Free Emergency Response Training

Local governments prepare every day for emergencies. During a disaster, however, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services, which is why Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is important. This risk and hazard awareness training is available at no cost through Whitfield County Emergency Management and is designed to help you ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center May Get Bankruptcy Trustee Who Would Focus On Sale Of Fort Oglethorpe Hospital

Hutcheson Medical Center may be headed for appointment of a bankruptcy trustee, who would focus on the sale of the financially-strapped Fort Oglethorpe hospital. An attorney told a bankruptcy court judge in Rome, Ga., on Wednesday afternoon that a buyer is discussing paying over $20 million for all the assets of the community hospital. Attorney Rob Williamson ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Unsecured Creditors Committee Asks Trustee Be Appointed For Fort Oglethorpe Hospital; Asks Bankruptcy Not Be Dismissed

The Unsecured Creditors Committee of Hutcheson Medical Center is opposing a motion by U.S. Trustee Guy Gebhardt for a bankruptcy judge to dismiss the bankruptcy for the financially-ailing Fort Oglethorpe hospital.   Instead, the group is asking Judge Paul Bonapfel to appoint a trustee to oversee the Hutcheson finances. In a 16-page motion, the committee said if the bankruptcy ... (click for more)

Who's Responsible For East Ridge's Stadium? - And Response

There just can be no excuse for East Ridge High School's stadium being in such dangerous condition that it has been condemned.   Where is responsible for this? I know there are a few other stadiums like this as well. And there is no excuse for this.  Building new and beautiful schools, state of the art technology. Top athletic facilities as well. Yet, East Ridge ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Barners Trounce Who?

There is a website known as Grammarly that just completed a profound study. An automated proof-reading company (who I hope never finds out about me) collected 100 comments that each included over 50 words from the comment blogs of the nation’s preseason Top 25 college football teams. Then they fed them into the company’s huge algorithm computer and checked each fan base for punctuation, ... (click for more)