Burlington, North Carolina, (population 48,399) began in 1856 as a town called Company Shops, established by the North Carolina Railroad as a point on the line for its repair shops.
Railroad operations eventually departed to Greensboro, but the textile industry already had a toehold in the community, which was renamed Burlington in 1893. Several mills were located within the city’s corporate limits, including Lakeside Mill, now a National Historic Landmark.
The textile boom continued well into the 1900s, and northern companies began relocating to Burlington. In 1919, the city was known as the “Hosiery Capital of the South.” The commercial business district was strong, and the architectural landscape began to represent diverse styles.
In the late 1900s, the Fair Trade Act led to the development of textile factories in other countries and the demise of local production. Seeing an opportunity, LABCORP, one of Alamance County’s leading employers, restored downtown Burlington’s Atlantic Bank and Trust Building and moved its headquarters there, giving the town an new economic base in biotechnology. The project received a National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award.
The organization Preservation North Carolina has acquired properties in Glencoe Village, an intact mill village abandoned in the 1950s, and has been restoring them for occupancy as well as building new homes under design guidelines that preserve the character of the neighborhood. The Textile Heritage Museum is located in the former Company Store and Office Building in the village.
Another attraction is the Company Shops Station, a restored North Carolina Railroad building remodeled as an active railroad depot, museum, and offices. A restored railroad caboose is used as a railroad museum.
Each year the community celebrates the Carousel Festival, centered around the restored 1910 Dentzel Carousel in the 76-acre city park. Other community event is Front Porch Glencoe, an annual event showcasing artisans, merchants, musicians, and entertainers in Glencoe Village.
Designated a Preserve America Community in December 2007.