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  • Writer's pictureBritney Heerten

Avondale Mill - Birmingham, AL

Avondale Mill started in 1897 and was one of the major players in the growth of Birmingham. This Cotton Mill brought in many people from all over the state of Alabama to join the workforce at the mill. Children 12 and up were allowed to work there also when the facility first opened. Later on, the child labor laws were passed and this practice was ended. Many children would lie about their ages in order to work. The children that did not work were allowed to attend school on the grounds of the Mill. Homes and stores were provided to the mill workers at low rates and they were even allowed to purchase their homes over time. The workers were compensated well and provided extra amenities.


The Pell City Plant is architecturally significant for having the first sawtooth roofed mill in Alabama. See the picture below to see what this looked like.


"A sawtooth roof is a series of ridges with dual pitches on either side. The steeper surfaces are glazed to admit daylight and face away from the equator to shield workers and machinery from direct sunlight. This kind of roof admits natural light into a deep plan building or factory. It was, therefore, most commonly built during the Machine Age from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, when electrification of factories was not yet extensively developed." - Wkikipedia


This design was the key to allowing in maximum daylight in a time of very little electrical lighting available. The style went out when electricity became more widespread, but now is making a comeback when the focus on natural light and renewable energy.



KET-hall in Weimar has a great example of this. See below:













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