Fieldcrest Plant in the 1920s
This photograph, taken in the late 1920s, shows the Fieldcrest plant at the intersection of Henry and Harris streets in Leaksville. The two-story structure at the lower left is the Betty Field Inn. On the adjoining property was a church, with its spire showing just below the water tank legs. The old road to Reidsville is shown at the top of the picture, with the covered bridge just a short distance out of camera range at the left. To read about a local couple that worked here during the 1930s, click here...
(photo submitted by John Marshall Carter)
Here is a brief history of Karastan Rug Mills by Jim Riddle:
Karastan Rug MillsIntroduction of Machine-Made Orientals
Cotton processing was not the only expertise in Leaksville, Spray and Draper, NC. A woolen mill operated in Spray and Marshall Field Company also saw a need for mass-produced oriental rugs. Marshall Field & Company had, starting in 1921, devoted a carpet mill in Leaksville, North Carolina to the creation of Oriental reproductions.
Beginning in 1926, a modified Axminster loom was being built which was capable of recreating the detailed craftsmanship of a hand-woven rug. From the moment the first Karastan came off the loom (2:02 p.m., April 8, 1928), Karastan became synonymous with elegant machine-made rugs that rivaled their handmade counterparts.
So far advanced was the new manufacturing process that the trade press referred to these rugs as “Mystery Rugs.” To share the “mystery” of these rugs with the public, Karastan created a large version of its Kirman pattern for the 1933-34 World’s Fair in Chicago. But instead of putting it on display so visitors could simply admire its beauty, Karastan management invited the world to walk on it. And so the world did.
More than 5 million people left their footprints, spills and ground-in food stains all over the rug. Then it was time for cleanup. They cleaned half the rug so people could see how well the rugs would recover. The rug still exists in the same state today at the Karastan Rug Mill—one side almost unrecognizably filthy, the other returned to its original beauty and luster.
The Karastan Axminster loom was the first power loom to produce a rug with a soft back that would show the pile yarns through the back just like the hand-woven originals from the Orient. Even so, it was only after the perfection of non-fading dyestuffs and a special "lustre wash," giving the rugs the realistric highlights and mellowness of the Oriental originals, that Karastan was born. From "Mystery Rugs" to "The Wonder Rug of America." With the introduction of the first Karastan, the creation of Oriental reproductions suddenly became a high art in itself.
To prove that the demonstration was no fluke, we did it again. This time more than 9 million visitors walked on our rugs at the New York World’s Trade Fair of 1939-40. It’s no wonder our rugs became known as “The Wonder Rugs of America.
Little wonder that the first thing that comes to mind when people say Karastan is rugs. But there has almost always been another side to Karastan, too: that of broadloom carpets, which we first started producing back in the 1930s. Not only did we play a big part in introducing American households to the very concept of walking in comfort on our soft, luxurious carpets; we provided the impetus for mass appeal by introducing yet another innovation in 1948: our Kara-loc method of weaving. Initially limited to the production of plain velvet and twist styles, Kara-loc eventually produced an explosion of fashion innovations, including mult-colored designs, along with cut-and-loop effects at least 15 years ahead of the rest of the industry. The innovative method made possible the production of highly styled, quality carpets at prices affordable to average consumers. Only the drive behind our innovative spirit stays the same. At Karastan, we're proud of our history. You can hear it in our voices. You can feel it in our fiber. You can see it in the patterns of our carpets and rugs.
What you won't ever see, though, is Karastan standing still. That's why, as proud as we are of our past, we keep searching for new ideas, new colors, new fibers, and new machines to bring it all together in our future. That's why we keep designing and weaving together whole new collections, like Colonial Williamsburg, introduced in 1983; and the Loft Collection and the Antique Legends Limited Edition Collection, both introduced in 2001. Just as time keeps moving ever forward, so, too, does the spirit of Karastan innovation. Cambridge Broadloom Inspired by our English Manor rug collection, Cambridge represents one of our traditional 18th century designs. Available in 12'8" widths in 3 colors (red, navy and ivory), Cambridge is one of our finest woven wool wall-to-wall carpets. It's crafted of 100% pure worsted New Zealand wool (one of the only fully worsted wool carpets made). Cambridge coordinates with both our English Manor rugs and runners.Eugene Clark, InventorIn 1928 Eugene Clark, a New England inventor, working at the Karastan Rug Mill (for over two years) completed the redesigned of one of the early Axminster looms and patented a new weaving process capable of pulling pile yarns through the back. The result was a carpet with a soft feel and a hand knotted appearance — both on the front and on the underside. In addition to replicating the design and texture of a Persian rug, the loom could weave a virtually unlimited variety of colors. Karastan had succeeded in duplicating by machine, with less time and cost, a carpet nearly identical to its handmade inspiration.
Pace-StonePace-Stone’s determination has helped it survive through times in the name of fine rugs.The Pace family welcomed its first customers to Pace-Stone in 1924 when Henry Pace Sr. and brother-in-law Eugene Stone founded a furniture store on Washington Street in Leaksville, known today as Eden. The rug mill was just a block away from Pace-Stone, owned by Marshall Fields & Co. The Mill started producing Oriental designed rugs with the trade name Karastan.In 1929, Pace-Stone recorded its first sale of a Karastan rug and has been a majorKarastan dealer continuously since then. To most people, Pace-Stone is known as the"Home of Karastan Rugs."
Here is a c.1920s postcard view of the same area. The drawing appears to have been made from the picture above, noting the positioning of the automobiles:
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