A Little Local History, Silk Mill Grille

Have you enjoyed a few meals at the Silk Mill Grille? If you don’t know the historical significance of the building, let us share with you now.


In 1928, just prior to the beginning of America’s Great Depression (1929-1939), Mr. Milton Rubin chose Orange County, Virginia as the site for development of a silk mill. The complex was built on 6 acres and boasted its own water tower. The first shipment of raw silk, imported from Canton, China, to the new mill was received on May 30, 1929. There were 200 local employees who earned approximately 15 cents per hour ($30 per month); which saved many a struggling family into and through the Depression. In fact, per the SMG’s website, “farms were saved and a community was left intact.” Further, the production of silk parachute cloth during World War II was vital to the success of our forces. So dedicated were the employees of the mill, they won a Presidential Citation for their efforts. Unfortunately, the mill was only fitted to process silk. The raw silk market was controlled by Japan and supplies of the silk became impossible to obtain. With the influx of newer and more readily obtained synthetic fibers (nylon, rayon et al), the mill was unable to compete and was closed in 1979. Fortunately, local businessman and resident Mr. Kent Higginbotham purchased the abandoned building in 1989 and gave the complex new life. Visit the many shops and services in the complex and then enjoy a delightful meal at the Silk Mill Grille soon.



The framed photograph shows a group of mill employees enjoying a picnic at Fairview Beach on August 8, 1936. Gifted by Ms. Patricia Winters and Ms. Barbara Grasty in 2004.



The three spools of silk (fuchsia, olive brown and turquoise) are on loan from Ms. Pam Shreve.