Pacolet Milliken Contributes Property for Brenau University Athletic Park
The site will be developed as “home field” location for Golden Tigers intercollegiate teams and for some public uses in a coming $4.4 million development project.
South Carolina-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, Inc., has donated a 16.8-acre tract of land here for the development of a multipurpose athletics park at the site of the historic New Holland textile mill village about two miles northeast of the university’s main campus.
The land, which lies along Jesse Jewell Parkway (U.S. 129 and Georgia Highway 369) adjacent to the Milliken & Company mill in the unincorporated Hall County community, will be the site of a $4.4 million project that includes development of “home field” facilities for the Brenau Golden Tigers intercollegiate soccer, softball, and track and field programs.
The site plan also incorporates walking and jogging/walking paths and other available for public use and special programs, like “movies on the green” and other entertainment and family recreational opportunities for those in New Holland, Gainesville and the surrounding region.
“We envision the Brenau Athletic Park as a vital community asset in an area that has only begun to see significant commercial and residential development,” said Ed Schrader, Brenau University’s president “We are grateful that Pacolet Milliken shares the vision and through its generosity has made it a reality.”
“Pacolet Milliken’s roots are grounded with the Milliken family,” said Richard Webel, president of Pacolet Milliken. “The New Holland community has been an important part of our history, and we are pleased to support Brenau’s vision of how this land can be put to use for the university and the community as a whole.”
Schrader said construction on the first phase of the project will begin as soon as possible so the softball facilities will be ready for home games in the spring of 2015. The initial phase will include the site development, a softball field and bleachers, parking, and a field house.
The second phase of the project will commence as soon as Brenau assembles the appropriate financial support. That phase includes the creation of a traditional football field-size turfed area surrounded by a track for sprints and long-distance races – addressing needs of the Golden Tigers new track and field team, the soccer team and future teams engaged in field sports.
Mike Lochstampfor, the Brenau athletics director and head coach of the No. 17-ranked Golden Tigers soccer program, said that the development of the complex will produce a major asset for recruiting top athletes. The soccer team currently uses as its “home field” the Allen Creek Soccer Complex, the Hall County public park located about four miles from campus.
Softball, also ranked No. 17 in the preseason national coaches’ poll, uses the city of Gainesville’s Lanier Point Softball Complex, located about four miles in another direction from the campus. The track and field team, which in only its second season is the defending Southern States Athletic Conference champion, also has no permanent home.
The historic New Holland community roots date to the same era as those of Brenau. Pacolet Manufacturing Company, predecessor to Milliken & Company, literally put New Holland on the map with the announcement of what one newspaper proclaimed the “Million-dollar Mill,” the still-existing five-story facility that would be at the time of its opening the largest textile mill in Georgia, ultimately processing enough cotton sheeting in a year’s time to wrap around the world.
According to local historian Johnny Vardeman, the company built on the 850 acres around the Pacolet Cotton Mill about 200 homes for workers, recreation building, store, school, church, athletic fields and offices – the model of a self-contained mill village. In the 1920s it added a gymnasium that featured a heated swimming pool, bowling and billiards. The village also had its own doctor, dentist and nurse.
At one time, when the mill employed about 1,400 people, about 3,000 lived in New Holland village – 2,000 less than the population of Gainesville and about 15 percent of the total Hall County population. Among those who grew up in New Holland are Brenau trustee and former Coca-Cola CEO Doug Ivester and his wife Kay, and the science-fiction and mystery novelist Brad Strickland, currently an English professor at the University of North Georgia.
The Brenau site currently is open land, a terraced tract located roughly between the well-trafficked thoroughfare and the Norfolk Southern Railroad right of way near the intersection of Jesse Jewell Parkway and Myrtle Street.