Pool of Stagnant Water at the Abandoned Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill

A pool of stagnant water sits at the heart of the abandoned mill complex in 1986. 

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By the 1970s the textile industry in the South was on the decline. In 1974 Fulton Bag and Cotton let 800 workers go in the middle of an economic depression.  In an echo of what happened to the massive textile industry of the Northeast when the Southern mills provided lower operating costs, Southern firms now found it hard to compete with the inexpensive overhead and labor of overseas textile mills.  Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill was able to fight this changing tide until 1981 when the mills closed their doors for the last time.  Between 1981 and when the majority of these pictures were taken in 1986, the mills entered a state of neglect and decay.  It was during this time that the safe containing documents relating to 1914-1915 strike was recovered.

The empty Mill Complex sat towering over a declining Cabbagetown.  The mill that had secured the community and provided the reason for its existence and main sustenance was no more.  In many ways, this was a community adrift trying to figure out how to survive in a rapidly changing labor market.  The neighborhood found itself dealing with high rates of juvenile crime and drug use.

The Cotton Mill sat at the center of many plans to revitalize the neighborhood.  The question was how it should be redeveloped.  Demolition was not considered as a serious option. In 1984 the Atlanta Constitution ran a feature article about the ways in which the Cotton Mill could be used to revitalize the neighborhood.  Seaboard Air-line Railroad, later CSX, had acquired the Mill Complex and was considering plans that would place retail, dining, conference space and a museum in the old Mill Complex.  

In 1994 the property was purchased by Winter Properties, later Aderhold Properties, and the next phase in the Cotton Mill's life was about to begin.