The Sibley Mill
is a historic mill
located in Downtown Augusta, Georgia
. The building was designed by Jones S. Davis and was built along the Augusta Canal
, next to the Confederate Powderworks
Sibley Mill was built in 1880, after a group of local men formed the Sibley Manufacturing Company that same year. Brick from the demolish site was used for the construction of Sibley Mill from 1880 to 1882. With its medieval
appearance, it resembles closely the powder works it replaced. Shortly after its operations, Sibley Mill became the largest and one of the most successful cotton mills in the region. Eventually, in the 1923, Graniteville Mills bought the factory.
At the time the factory began operations, it employed over 800 people in the Augusta area. However, in the mid to late 20th century, Graniteville Mills had company troubles and start idling many workers. After 124 years of operations, Sibley Mill closed in 2006, laying off about 100 workers.
The future of Sibley seems to be looking up. Clayton Boardman, a local businessman who successfully revitalized the Enterprise Mill
into upscale loft apartments
, bought the mills in 2007. Plans are to renovate building to and turn it into office space
, and upscale condominiums
.The estimated price tag is about $50 million.
- Its namesake, Josiah Sibley, was a respected Augusta cotton broker whose son, William Sibley, was a partner in the venture. In 1870, they traveled together to New York to recruit investors.
- The Sibleys bought 550,000 bricks that remained after the demolition of the Confederate Powderworks, which was erected there during the Civil War. The purchase price: $5 per thousand.
- William Sibley's daughter Pearl Sibley, laid the first cornerstone during a ceremony Oct. 13, 1880. She also laid the last brick Jan. 27, 1882. The construction cost was $788,452.
- The Sibley family's coat of arms, sculpted in colorfully painted molding over the main entrance, includes a saying in Latin, "Esse quam videri," which means, "To be, rather than to seem."
- The chimney at the mill's entrance is a remnant of the Powderworks and is not part of Sibley Mill. It is maintained as a public monument.
- Sibley Mill opened in 1882 with 536 looms, and expanded to 880 looms by 1885. Cotton consumption increased from 2.1 million pounds in 1883 to 8.5 million pounds in 1894.
- Sibley built entire neighborhoods with mill-owned stores, churches and schools. The last seven mill-owned homes were sold in 1969.
- Citing tough economic times, the mill shut its doors in June 2006, idling its remaining 115 workers.
- Sibley's ornate architecture, with "crennelations" that resemble a European castle, is "one of the finest examples" of a 19th century cotton mill, according to the Historic American Engineering Record, a registry of important industrial structures.
Source: Historic American Engineering Record; Augusta Chronicle archives