Community gathers for documentary about Cone family history


The Appalachian Online

Sammy Hanf

Last Thursday, locals gathered to see Denim Dynasty, a documentary about the influential Cone family and their textile empire.

The film was directed by Beth Davison, director of interdisciplinary studies and co-director of documentary film studies at ASU and drew a crowd of nearly 100 locals to the Belk Information Commons where it was shown.

Also in attendance were members of the Cone family who were introduced in the question and answer session immediately following the film.

The film attracted special interest for the residents of the Blowing Rock region due to the Cone families donation of 36,000 acres of land to be used as a state park. The land, which also has a manor that is accessible to the public, was a motivating factor in deciding the subject of the film.

“It’s beautiful, it’s well used and fairly well maintained and so I think just being out there and enjoying it,” Davison said about the park.

According to Davison, research for the film was done through the use of seven different archives, the largest of which being UNC, home to the Cone Corp. records.

During the film’s creation, Davison said that students were a big part of the process, taking part in the research and editing of the film.

Interest was not confined to the legacy of the Cone’s. Many attendees wanted to know about the current state of the larger mills mentioned in the film. Some of which, according to Davison, are still operational and produce expensive high-quality denim.

Davison said there are plans to take the film out of the region because she sees a connection through the prevalence of textile mills across the country and the lives shaped by the industry’s influence.

She sees a link between the Cone story and the present day by way of the manufacturing boom in other countries.

“I think we see in China, in Bangladesh where people are coming off the farms and out of the villages into the urban centers to work in these textile companies and build the garments that we wear,” Davison said, “That used to be produced in North Carolina and other places.”

Story by Sammy Hanf, Intern News Reporter