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Rock and a Hard Place
Bailey Zimmerman

Avondale Mills burned nine years ago today


SYLACAUGA Ala. – Nearly a decade has passed since Avondale Mills burned to the ground.

The old textile mill engulfed into flames on June 22, 2011 after being struck by lightning.

The property is owned by the Talladega County Board of Education.

Avondale Mills came to Sylacauga in the early 1900’s after Donald Comer assumed management of Avondale Mills and expanded his father’s business.

He expanded the company into Sylacauga, building the Eva Jane plant in 1913. In 1919, he constructed Sallie B. No. 1 and Catherine Mills and completed Sallie B. No. 2 in 1926.

Each plant was named after a different woman in the Comer family.

The company’s arrival in Sylacauga, for example, was described by a local historian as the most important event in the town’s history, although Sylacauga had other industries, including Sylacauga Brick Yard and the Moretti-Harrah Marble Quarries.

Avondale plants, including Sylacauga’s plan, typically turned out rope, hosiery yarns, sheeting, indigo denims, and heavy twills.

Avondale’s impact on Sylacauga was heightened by the presence of five plants in the county. The Catherine Central Plant and the Eva Jane Plant employed almost 3,000 people.

In July 2006, Avondale Incorporated ceased operations and sold three of its plants to Parkdale Mills Inc. Avondale closed three plants in Sylacauga and one plant each in Alexander City, Pell City and Rockford laying off more than 1,300 workers. The purchase by Parkdale Mills saved jobs in Alexander City and Rockford, but in January 2008, Parkdale closed its plant in Rockford.

For more information about the mills, click here.

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