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White Mill

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Riverside Division of Dan River Mills
1920, Lockwood, Greene and Company. 424 Memorial Dr.

Riverside, organized in 1882, merged in 1909 with the Dan River Company in Schoolfield (PI65) to form Dan River, Inc. In the late twentieth century the Riverside Division closed and, soon after, the nineteenth-century buildings were destroyed. Now the earliest surviving structures date from the 1920s. Most of Riverside's twentieth-century textile manufacturing buildings were designed by a Boston engineering company. The huge reinforced-concrete White Mill is an example of the dramatic changes in mill architecture that evolved during the cotton boom following World War I. The increasing difficulty of obtaining huge timbers for the earlier brick buildings, combined with the new technology of reinforced concrete, brought on a building revolution. Also fueling the change was the increased heaviness of mill machinery and its stronger vibrations and faster running speeds that put greater stress on structures.

The White Mill has concrete slab floors and ceilings supported by columns with giant mushroom capitals, industrial forerunners of Frank Lloyd Wright's elegant mushroom columns in the Johnson Wax Company (1936–1937) in Racine, Wisconsin. The long elevations of the four-story mill, each with twenty-seven banks of windows, are divided into thirds by two projecting stair towers. Each of the vestigial corner towers has a recessed vertical bank of single windows that are similar to the banks of double windows in the stair towers. Surface decoration of the mill is Moderne, with hard-edged, geometric designs in low relief. Some of the windows are now closed up but others still have blue panes dating from World War II, when factories, often working twenty-four hours a day, had their windows painted dark blue to comply with black-out regulations.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee



  • 1920


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "White Mill", [Danville, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 371-371.

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