Blanket Town


A documentary film about the rise and fall of the Beacon Blanket Mill in Swannanoa, NC, it’s influence on the people who worked there, and it’s national and global context.

East of Asheville North Carolina, Swannanoa is a small town in Buncombe County, and the home of the Beacon Blanket Factory, at one time the largest manufacturer of blankets in the world, which burned down in 2003.

The story of the Beacon mill is the story of the United States manufacturing industry, a complex legacy of generations of workers who lived and worked together "like a family" in tight knit communities. Many former mill workers define life in the mill village as an idyllic lifestyle with company sponsored housing, ball teams, recreation centers and other employee benefits. But this system of welfare capitalism hid other ills, including unsafe working conditions, strict segregation of work by race or gender, and a violent opposition to organized labor. With the decline of the textile industry in the 70's and 80's and the introduction of NAFTA in the 90's, small mill towns, like Swannanoa, began to die.
Blanket Town examines the the migration of the textile industry from England, to New England to the American South and, with the advent of globalization, overseas.
 The community of Swannanoa is poised on the verge of tremendous change.  Development has begun on a high-end, gated community on the mountain that overlooks the mill village. The Beacon site is up for sale for millions of dollars. There is interest in revitalizing the old downtown area. But rebuilding the community today requires an understanding and appreciation of the strong community it once was.