At the Cotton Room we are proud to be a chapter in the history of this beautiful space and are honored to be a part of Durham’s revitalization efforts. Because of this, we would love to share a little bit of history about our building and our city.
The Golden Belt Manufacturing Company’s facility was originally built in 1887 as part of the Bull Durham Tobacco Company. Golden Belt was a new and innovative production company that created the cloth pouches that Bull Durham Tobacco was sold in. Up until that point, the cutting and sewing was all done by hand by independent contractors of Bull Durham Tobacco.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Bull Durham Tobacco changed hands quite a few times, finally settling in ownership by American Tobacco Company. In 1901, The Golden Belt Manufacturing Company had a new factory built, half being a cotton mill, and half being where the pouches were made. Since part of the process still involved a tie string being sewn on by hand, 50 houses were also built alongside the factory to house the families that worked there.
The factory grew and changed with the company over the years as buildings and warehouses were added to keep up with the space needed for production; especially during WWI which brought an all time high demand for the textile industry.
Although this boom didn’t last very long after the war, Golden Belt was able to adapt and change to keep with the times. The facility evolved from a cotton mill to a paper and cardboard manufacturing site, and then to plastics manufacturing. Eventually the building would return to it’s roots, printing the cigarette labels for Bull Durham Tobacco Company.
In 1996 the building it was donated to the Durham Housing Authority when the Brown and Williamson Tobacco company failed to find a private buyer.
It wasn’t until 2004 when the building was put up for sale again by the city of Durham, only this time, there were buyers waiting, ready to revitalize the factory. Major renovations began in 2009, and business owners Dodd and Michelle Aldred created a beautiful event space within the old Golden Belt Manufacturing building. Although a lot of work was needed, Dodd and Michelle were honored to be back in their hometown, running a business that they love.
For more information on the revitalization of Durham and the full history of the Golden Belt Manufacturing Co., please visit: Endangered Durham