When Highland Park Mill opened around 1904, it was one of Charlotte's first mills designed for electric operation. The architect, Stuart Warren Cramer, was a resident of the nearby Dilworth neighborhood.
Listed on the national Register of Historic Places, Highland Park Mill is considered the best example of mill design. It became one of the south's most well known mills and served as the architectural model for the textile industry. The mill remained in operation until 1969, when additions were made, windows were bricked in, and clerestories were removed from the roofs. Cramer's original machinery, including his pioneering efforts at air conditioning, gave way to newer technology. New ancillary buildings were constructed while old ones were demolished. After closing, all of the mill machinery was sold to industrialists in South America and today only one small section of overhead shafting (possibly part of Cramer's original layout) survives. Since its closing, the complex has been used for storage.
Despite all the changes, the Highland Park Mill is a place of exceptional architectural significance to the city of Charlotte and to the South. Highland Park Mill is the only surviving Charlotte building closely associated with Stuart Cramer, the preeminent Southern textile architect of his day. Textiles constituted the primary industry in the South for many decades. Cramer's work not only had great impact on the region, but also helped the city of Charlotte emerge as a regional center.
The factory is believed to be the best documented example of the designer's work. Taken together, Highland Park Mill's buildings and drawings provide an extraordinarily detailed picture of state-of-the-art mill architecture at the turn of the century. Because Cramer published detailed drawings, it is likely that aspects of Highland Park Mill's architecture were copied throughout the South and beyond.
Today, the North Charlotte Highland Mill building and its tidy rows of mill houses still stand solidly as a clear reminder of the industry which was almost solely responsible for Charlotte's growth and prosperity in the late nineteenth century and three-fourths of the twentieth's textile manufacturing.