Originally known as Highland Park Gingham Mill, this mill became Charlotte’s fifth cotton textile producer in 1892.
Yarn and cloth mill specializing in gingham;
1892 – 2016;
1977 – 2016
2018 – beyond
The original construction and the expansion in 1895 were both completed by D.A. Tompkins, with a later expansion completed by Stuart Cramer, another influential textile entrepreneur.
By 1907, the Highland Park Manufacturing Company—which also included Rock Hill, SC’s Mill No. 2 and North Charlotte’s Mill No. 3—had become the nation’s third-largest producer of gingham. Production remained strong for many years, even through the Great Depression and both World Wars. The plant continued to produce gingham until 1975. Two years later, Highland Mills, Inc., a hosiery producer, purchased the mill, continuing its operation there until 2016.
Highland Park Mill No. 1 was repurposed and renamed in 2018 to become Optimist Hall, a 147,000 square foot space dedicated to innovation, creativity, and community. Its vast footprint is home to a food hall and several restaurants, along with retail and creative office space. Optimist Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.