As early as 1795, several types of mills operated here. In 1847, Farish, Jones, and Co., opened a cotton and woolen factory. John A. Marchant gained control of it by 1852 and renamed it the Charlottesville Manufacturing Company. His son, Henry Clay Marchant bought it in 1864. Although the Union army burned the factory in 1865, Marchant reopened it in 1867 as the Charlottesville Woolen Mills, which became Albemarle's largest industry. A community grew up around the mill and Marchant built worked houses and a chapel. By the 1880s the mill specialized in making cloth uniforms; it remained in operation until 1964.
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