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Gaston County History: Cities & Towns: McAdenville


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McAdenville is named after Rufus Yancey McAden and has also been known as McAdensville. The area was owned earlier by James Henderson and known as Henderson Shoals and then Spring Shoals when it was purchased by Adam Alexander Springs. In 1840 the property was acquired by the Stowe brothers who sold the river front site to McAden in 1880. In 1881 McAden began the construction of the first mill, the surrounding village, and a concrete dam on the river. The company was originally Spring Shoals Manufacturing Company, but on February 27, 1883, by legislative act, the name was changed to McAden Mills and the surrounding town incorporated as McAdenville.

In 1884, both McAden mills added electric light systems. They are credited with being the first textile mills in the country to install the new technology. McAdenville also claimed the first telephone system in the county and the first library. (The library building is not part of the current Gaston County Public Library system.)

In 1935, the McAden mills ceased operating, victims of the depression. Resurrection came with the purchase of the mills, town and all, in 1939 by Robert Lee Stowe, Daniel Jonathan Stowe, and William James Pharr who formed Stowe Mills. In 1950, a subsidiary, Pharr Yarns, was built to produce man-made fibers.

McAdenville has gained national publicity as "Christmas Town, USA" with one of the largest holiday displays in the country. Starting in 1956 with a few lighted trees, the village now has hundreds of trees and attracts thousands of visitors. The web site for Christmas events is

McAdenville population:

  • 1900 -- 1,144; 1910 -- 983; 1920 -- 1,162;
  • 1930 -- 914; 1940 -- 887; 1950 -- 1,060;
  • 1960 -- 748; 1970 -- 950; 1980 -- 947;
  • 1990 -- 830; 2000 -- 619; 2010- -- 651.

McAdenville Historical Resources:

    • McAdenville : Spun from the Wilderness, by Billy Robert Miller, (pub. 1982), call #: 975.677 Mil NCC
    • McAdenville Memories, by Sandra Jones Brittain, (pub. 2010), call #: 975.677 Bri NCC
    • McAdenville Historic District pdf.
    • Christmas Town USA [DVD], (pub. 2002), call #: HOLIDAY CHR DVD
    • Pharr Crier, newsletter of Pharr Yarns. The library has v. 40 (Mar. 1999) to date, call #: 070 Pha NCC
  • For city directory listings that include McAdenville, see our guide City Directories.

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