The Goat Farm- Murrays Mill
In 1912, the Murray Company of Texas chose to purchase the Van Winkle Works in Atlanta. The Murray Company manufactured cotton gins and had been looking for a location east of the Mississippi to locate a plant. Initially it was announced in 1908 that the Murray Company would build a plant in Atlanta. During this time the Van Winkle Company began a sideline in the manufacture of trucks, which it found to be more profitable than the manufacture of cotton gins. The Van Winkle Company wanted to unload its cotton gin manufacturing plants at this time in order to solely concentrate on truck manufacture. In 1912, the Murray Company purchased the Van Winkle Gin and Machinery Works for $300,000 with plans to enlarge it.
One of the major reasons that the Murray Company chose Atlanta had to deal with freight rates. In order to remain competitive in cities with multiple railroads, railroad companies had to charge competitive rates. In an article in the Atlanta Constitution, John H. McDonough, president and general manager of the Murray Company, cited Atlanta's favorable freight rates. McDonough noted that compared to Birmingham, Atlanta offered a $7 dollar per ton savings in shipping costs. This was because manufactures in Atlanta had more options of rail freight carries than they did in Birmingham, which meant the railroads had to keep prices low for shipping in and out of Atlanta in order to maintain a customer base. The Van Winkle Plant's location in Atlanta near existing rail lines made it an especially attractive location.
The Murray Company used the complex to continue to produce cotton gins throughout the 1910s and 1920s. During this time the complex became known as Murrays Mill. Murrays Mill continued to grow during this time reaching its apogee in the 1930s. It was during this time that the Murray Company began to diversify what it produced. In 1938 it acquired a franchise in General Electric's air conditioning business. The Murray Company acted as distributors and installers of this latest piece of technology.
In 1940s the plant began to manufacture shells for the US Army. While this order came prior to the beginning of hostilities, it was a part of War Department's efforts to ramp up industrial production for the military. Throughout the war years Murrays Mill was involved in producing munitions for the war effort. In 1943 the plant won an award for their War Output by the Army and the Navy. While the war was good for the plant, the historical record falls silent about what happened to the plant in the later part of the 1940s.
The details surrounding the closing of the plant remain murky. This closure may have been due to the aging plant buildings ,or may have had something to do with issues in the Murray Company. However, by the mid-1950s the plant was shuttered and sold to a David C. Black. In 1966 Mr. Black died and the property was sold to the Trust Company of Georgia, who owned it until 1972 when it was purchased by Robert S. Haywood. While Haywood purchased the site with the intention to continue its industrial use, he found that this intent would shift over the course of the 1970s and 80s.