Cannon Mills documentary STITCHED IN TIME to screen with director/crew
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — In the locally produced documentary, “Stitched In Time,” former mill workers share their memories of working at Cannon Mills, which Charles Cannon built into a textile empire beginning in the 1920s, creating the City of Kannapolis in the process.
“Stitched in Time,” tells the story of the rise and fall of Cannon Mill, which became Pillowtex before closing in 2003, bringing a way of life to an end in Kannapolis and Cabarrus County.
The movie screens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7 at the historic Gem Theatre, Kannapolis, N.C. Tickets are $4 each.
The movie project was headed up by Leadership Cabarrus Class of 2012 in partnership with the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, Historic Cabarrus Association and Kannapolis History Associates.
The group worked with the digital media department at A.L. Brown High School, and students from Concord High School provided the music for the documentary.
Jonathan Greene, digital media instructor at A.L. Brown High School, directed the 45-minute documentary, working with his students to develop the film.
“It’s really great to get students involved and have a real world project to work off, and they can always come back to Kannapolis and have that to share,” Green said.
The mill closed in 2003, and billionaire David H. Murdock purchased the property at auction in December 2004. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 2005 to announce plans for a $1.5 billion scientific and economic revitalization project called the North Carolina Research Campus. The mill was torn down to make way for the research campus which stands on the property today.
Greene said his students learned about the mill’s history and how it is tied in with the North Carolina Research Campus.
“A lot of them did not realize that’s how Kannapolis came to be,” Greene said. “Most students in high school have no idea the mills were even here, because a lot of them moved in after it closed down.”
Jimmy Baker, of Kannapolis, is one of the former mill workers who has seen the movie.
Baker said he was 16 years old when he started at the mill back in 1968, just a red-headed, freckle-faced kid, who came out of high school with no political connections. But over the years he worked at the mill, and was able to become an executive who oversaw a $19 million budget and 300 employees. He stayed until the mill closed in 2003.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Baker said. “For the generation of kids today that have no visible evidence of what Charles Cannon and that family did for this community, I just think it’s a wonderful, refreshing program to educate those generations that can appreciate the housing that is in this community, the churches, the schools. This whole community, the whole city was financially supported by Charles Cannon and the textile business.”
Harold Turner, of Jonesville, used to be in charge of hiring at the mill and was one of the people interviewed for the movie. He talked about how many high school age students are too young to remember the impact Cannon Mills had on the community. But now, there is a snapshot of the past for the people to connect with.
“They will be able to look at this 50 years from now, on some kind of machine and say, ‘Well, that’s what it was like,” Turner said. “But if Leadership Cabarrus hadn’t of done this they’d never know.”