history is inextricably linked with both the Cotton Industry
and the nearby city of Valdosta. Following the Civil War, the
“New South Movement” encouraged the modernization and industrialization
of the South’s mostly agricultural economy. The greater Valdosta
area excelled at growing and trading Sea Island cotton, a very
valuable commodity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, and one on which local leaders sought to capitalize.
In fact, at one time, the downtown Cotton Exchange in Valdosta
traded 20,000 bales each growing season. A regional leader in
cotton production and an emerging financial center, Valdosta
was ripe for the formation of a textile mill company.
In 1899, thirty eight Valdosta merchants, bankers, and business
men established the Strickland Cotton Mills, Inc. Among the corporation’s
founders were Remer Y. Lane, his son Mills Lane, and A.J., Charles,
Joseph, and B.F. Strickland. Because the Strickland family had
controlling interest in the new corporation and was instrumental
in building the mill, the company assumed their name. Remerton,
however, would later be named to honor Remer Young Lane, who was
also the president of the Merchants Bank of Valdosta, and a major
financial supporter of the mill.
The site of the mill and village (later the City of Remerton)
was chosen due to its proximity to the Georgia Southern Railroad,
the levelness of the land, and abundant pine trees, from which
workers’ housing was built. Located two and one-half miles northwest
of Valdosta’s downtown, the mill’s site also provided a safe distance
from the city in case of a possible boiler explosion.
Constructed in late 1899, the Strickland Cotton Mill began
production in 1900. The original mill building also featured a
prominent smokestack and a large four-story tower that housed an
11,000 gallon water tank vital for providing fire protection. In
1930, a 50,000 gallon water tower was built on the east side of
the mill, which still exists today.
As one of the largest employers in Lowndes County, Strickland
Cotton Mills, Inc. provided housing within walking distance for
its workers. The houses were constructed by local carpenters and
from local materials while the Strickland Mill was being built.
Located east of Gordon Street, the workers’ houses were constructed
on modest lots along Sycamore (now Baytree Place), Poplar, and
Plum Streets immediately adjacent to the mill. Alleys running north-south
separated blocks at regular intervals, and footpaths running east-west
allowed direct pedestrian access from Gordon to Myrtle Streets
between the rows of houses on each block. By 1920, a total of sixty-five
houses were built ranging in all different sizes. The mill village
expanded in the early 1940s, with the building of several houses
on Victory and Pine Streets. Because of the accessibility offered
by the automobile, however, no further workers’ houses were built
after World War II.
Developed similarly to a company town, Remerton was self
sufficient, with a school, three churches, and a village store.
Ironically, much of the town’s self-sufficiency came from its relationship
with the Strickland Mills, Inc. company. Mill workers spent most
of their earnings in Remerton, paying rent to and purchasing items
from the company. Remerton enjoyed a stable financial economy,
due partly to mill workers’ reinvestment in their community, but
also due to the Strickland family’s conservative operation of the
mill. In fact, mill expansion was slow for the first forty years.
The only major additions to the complex before 1946 were additional
water storage, waste handling facilities, and a folding room off
of the cloth room. In 1947-48, the size of the mill doubled, as
a new addition was added to the south end of the original mill
building. Two additional warehouses and additions to the weave
and spinning shops were constructed by 1950. Expansions to the
mill were completed by 1966.
In 1951, the Strickland mill and village became the incorporated
City of Remerton, which allowed for much needed federal and state
aid. Following Remerton’s incorporation, economic factors caused
the Strickland family to slowly lose control of the mill. The Strickland
family had controlled the mill company from its founding in 1899,
and the company’s presidency had been passed down from father to
son to brother, from one generation to the next. In the late 1960s,
A.J. “Bubba” Strickland, III took over leadership at the mill following
his brother Frank’s death. Unlike past presidents, Bubba Strickland
brought in mill supervisors from out of state, instead of promoting
from within, and lacked the hands-on leadership role his predecessors
carried. The familiar, family atmosphere of the mill disappeared,
causing low morale among the mill’s workers. After several years
during which the mill lacked cohesive leadership and conservative
business practices, the Strickland Cotton Mill finally closed in
A few years later, Wipo Industries, a cloth manufacturing
company, bought the mill building and renamed it Sugar Creek Textile
Mill. They then sold the building in 1985 to Fred Wilkinson of
Wilkinson's Textile Company, who owned and operated it until November
As of today, the City of Remerton consists of 136 acres.
Remerton created its charter in 1951 and is completely landlocked
inside the City of Valdosta. The City of Remerton is a full functioning
city government which houses a full and active staff of Fire Department,
Police Department, Public Works and Utilities, with also a 6 member
Mayor and Council.