On The Shoulders of Giants: Furniture, Textiles and Tobacco in Martinsville & Henry County

John D. Bassett, Sr.
Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum
1 East Main Street
Martinsville, VA 24112
Region Southern Virginia
Locality Martinsville City
Monday, December 16, 2013 - Saturday, May 31, 2014
Phone: (276) 403-5361
Website www.mhchistoricalsociety.org

On The Shoulders of Giants honors the industrial heritage of Martinsville and Henry County. In the early years, tobacco production dominated the local economy. The area became known as the "plug tobacco capital of the world." Local families such as the Spencers, Gravelys, Comptons, Ruckers, Wittens, Lesters, and Browns founded a number of small tobacco processing companies and local farmers brought their tobacco crops to these companies for processing. In the early 1900s, tobacco monopolies bought out most of the local firms.

Shortly after the turn of the last century, the local economy switched to building furniture. It was during this time that Bassett Furniture Industries, American Furniture, Stanley Furniture, Hooker Furniture, and Gravely Furniture  became major producers of furniture not only for the USA, but for the world. They were joined by many other companies including Bassett Mirror and Virginia Mirror that manufactured furniture and furniture components.

Prior to World War II,  manufacturing textiles and related products entered the picture.  Pannill Knitting, Sale Knitting, Bassett-Walker Knitting, Fieldcrest Mills, and other major manufacturers began production. DuPont began processing nylon in the area, primarily for the defense industry. Martin Processing joined in these efforts.  This exhibit celebrates this heritage.


Last Updated: 12/16/2013 3:22 PM
  • Enter to Win

    Spring 2014 spring sweeps 
  • Get the Virginia Travel Guide

    2014 Virginia Travel Guide

    Order your Free Virginia Travel Guide.

     Order now button  

  • Travel Updates

    What's going on around Virginia? Subscribe to the Virginia eNews.