ASU to Host Screening Tonight of ‘The Denim Dynasty’ Documentary About Cone Family

Published Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm

By Katie Benfield

On Thursday, Beth Davidson, a faculty member of Appalachian State University and documentary filmmaker, will host a screening of the documentary The Denim Dynasty on ASU’s campus. The film delves into the lives of the eminent Cone family and how they shaped North Carolina textile industry as we know it.

For the High Country, Moses Cone represents the national park with 26 miles of carriage trail, along with the Flat Top Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

However, according to Davidson, the Cone family permanently enhanced our state in more ways than one. From donating land to a national park to influencing the development of medical centers — mainly in Greensboro — and schools, the Cones ensured the progression of the lives of High Country residents. Moses Cone was one of the first financial contributors and board members of Watauga Academy — now known as Appalachian State University.

Additionally, the Cones ranked North Carolina among the highest textile producers in America in the 20th Century through their corporation, Cone Mills Corporation.

The corporation was based in Greensboro, NC, but impacted a wide-range of cities and towns, including Boone, and encompassed all of the state in their determination to make North Carolina a leading producer in the textile industry, and especially on denim.

“At one time, they were the largest producers of denim in the world,” Davidson said. “They were primary providers to the Levi Company. Even now, a lot of designer jeans still use Cone denim.”

The Cones were also known for art collecting. Davidson said that the family has two famous art-collecting women, and their stories will be told throughout the film.

Along with this documentary explores the lives of the Cone family and the lives of the families that lived in the Cone mill villages and worked for the company. The Cones owned 21 mills, scattered all throughout NC, SC and some in Georgia. One part of the film tells the story of the Cones, and the other part tells the stories of the mill workers and their families.

“Working in a Cone mill was a great opportunity for some of these workers at the time,” Davidson said.

The Denim Dynasty focuses largely on themes that are seen predominately through the American narrative such as immigration, reconstruction, industrial revolution, paternalism and philanthropy.

The in-depth look into the Cones’ lives and their overall influence over the state, and our community, is shaped by interviews of former mill residents, along with ASU faculty members. Seven or eight of the Cones will be present at the screening.

The screening will take place at 6:30 p.m. in room 114 of the Belk Library. The runtime of the documentary is 55 minutes, followed by an opportunity to ask Davidson any questions about the film. Along with this, there will be a reception with the Cone family members that attended.

The event is free and open to the public.
For more information on the event, call Beth Davidson at 828-262-6397.

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