The History of Highland Park Mill
Heist Brewery is located in the historic Highland Park Manufacturing Company Mill No.3 which was constructed in 1903-04. It was one of the largest cotton mills to be built in the Charlotte area and one of the last to close. The mill closed its doors in 1969. Prior to the late 1880s and early 1900s, Charlotte was a notable cotton trading center. Shortly thereafter, Charlotte developed into a widely acclaimed cotton manufacturing center spearheaded by D.A. Tompkins who built over 100 cotton mills under the name Highland Park Manufacturing Company. The site chosen for Highland Park Mill No.3 was the location of the municipal waterworks at the far end of the Wadsworth farm. During construction of the half million dollar mill, a brick making plant was set up on the site. The mill boasted 30.000 spindles, 1,000 looms and over 800 employees. A power generating plant, the brick Transfer House, was built on Sugar Creek to supply power to Highland Park Mill No.3 and Mill No.1. The 2,000 horsepower plant made the two mills (No.1 and No.3) the first electrically driven mills in North Carolina. Highland Park Mill No.3 specialized in making gingham cotton fabric and was the largest in Charlotte.
Following the construction of the mill, an entire community which became known as North Charlotte was established around the cotton mill. The North Charlotte Community thrived for many years, complete with 80 mill houses, hotel, mercantile stores, drug stores and grocery stores. From 1906-1969 Highland Park Manufacturing was owned and operated by C.W. Johnson, a prominent Charlotte business man and his family. Highland Park Mill No.3 was well known for its exceptional architectural significance because it showcased the talents of Stuart Warren Cramer, the preeminent Southern textile mill architect of his day. During its lifetime, additions were made to the mill, windows were bricked in and clerestories were removed from the roofs. The mill boasted a Card and Spinning Room, massive air conditioning equipment (constructed sometime between 1929 and 1954), spinning machines, a Dye House, a Weaver Room and a Gate House. North Charlotte became the industrial heart of Charlotte. The area thrived with 3 mills, businesses, several thousand residents, a trolley service, and a movie theater. By 1930 Charlotte surpassed Charleston as the largest urban area in North and South Carolina. Thus, Charlotte was transformed from an agricultural economy to an industrial community and cotton was King. After the mill closed in 1969 all of its machinery was sold to industrialists in South America. The community, now known as NoDa, North of Davidson, is experiencing great economic growth and a new vitality.
On June 15, 1987, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission designated the Old Highland Park Manufacturing Company Mill No.3 as a historic property.