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Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of An American Mill Town

Blanket Town is a historical documentary film about the rise and fall of the Beacon Blanket Mill and the people who worked there. Once the largest manufacturer of blankets in the world, Beacon was described as the "big red thumping heart" of the small mountain town of Swannanoa, NC. Blanket Town looks at the forces that built and destroyed this thriving mill town and asks the question, what happens to a community when it loses its heart? 

This Year!!!!
With your help here is some of what we were able to accomplish this year.

  • Hire a professional cinematographer to shoot additional footage, including interviews with former Beacon workers; Swannanoa business owners, and a walking tour of  historical downtown Swannanoa.
  • Engage award-winning filmmaker and editor Jim Haverkamp as a consulting editor 
  • Professionally record local musician Laurie Fisher to provide music for the film
  • Win a grant from the Black Mountain/Swannanoa Valley Endowment fund
  • Secure rights to footage of Martha Stewart talking about Beacon blankets on TV 
  • Receive project sponsorship from the prestigious Center for Independent Documentary

We are proud of the progress we have made on the film in 2018.  But we still need your financial help to bring the film to completion and to pay for the things we can’t do ourselves. We need to raise funds to pay for color correction, sound mixing, finish editing, and copyright and clearance fees. 

Please consider donating to our fundraising campaign to help us finish the film!

We are so grateful for the generous support we have received this year from the Black Mountain/Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund and for the sponsorship opportunity with the Center for Independent Documentary. as well as the advice and support from our friends at The Center for Documentary Studies. And of course for all of your ongoing support !

Blankets for Christmas Video
Our Christmas gift to you this year is a short holiday video we've created just for fans of Blanket Town. Set to the original song "Blankets for Christmas" written by Lucy Martier and Cameron Lash, the song lyrics are taken from oral history interviews with former Beacon workers. We hope you will recognize some familiar faces and long lost friends. From all of us at Blanket Town, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Swannanoa's Got Talent
Here are behind the scenes shots of local musician Laurie Fisher  

recording music for the Blanket Town score

at Juicebox Studios in Swannanoa.

Rough Cuts Film Festival
We were thrilled to be able to show half of Blanket Town at the Rough Cuts Film Festival at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh. It was such an honor to be able to screen part of the film and hear feedback from faculty, students, and staff. Favorite comment ? When one viewer said  "I'm not from Swannanoa and I don't know anyone who worked at Beacon. 
But this film told my family's story." 

We’ve been documenting the Beacon story for many years. Conducting oral history interviews, scanning old family photographs, and preserving the stories of workers who lived and worked in this “Blanket town.”

It is a huge story -- the rise and collapse of US manufacturing -- told small. Our documentary film,Blanket Town, brings this complex and urgent history alive through amazing archival footage, interwoven with the voices of former mill workers and townspeople who speak with honest emotion and humor.

Please make a tax deductible donation to to help support the film's completion. We so appreciate your helping us make it to the finish line! 
You can make a secure, tax-deducible donation below.

Or you can send a check to
The Center for Independent Documentary-Blanket Town
1300 Soldiers Field Road, Suite #5
Boston, MA 02135

Contact Us
If you would like to learn more about Blanket Town or have photos to share,  please contact us.  You can call Rebecca Williams, the film's director at 828-280-6235 or email us at

Don't forget to like and follow us on Facebook! 

Lots of good news for Blanket Town as we move into the summer! 

We are thrilled to share the news that we have received a grant for Blanket Town from the Black Mountain- Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund, an affiliate of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. We are so grateful for this support which helps us preserve the stories of former Beacon workers and honor the historical significance that Beacon Manufacturing had on the Swannanoa Valley. Thank you Black Mountain - Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund for providing financial support for this film.

We are also very excited to announce Blanket Town's new partnership with the Center for Independent Documentary!

CID works with filmmakers from all regions of the country and has a total of 124 films currently in development or production. Their work with independent producers is unique and includes cooperation at all phases of their projects. Whether it be management of funds, offering creative and technical support, assistance in preparation of funding proposals or devising strategies to maximize a film's impact upon release, CID works hard to make sure that each filmmaker is supported 100% of the way. We are so honored to be working with them.
Check out their website to see the great work they do. And then hop over to "In Production" under the "Our Films" tab to see the Blanket Town page. You can make a tax deducible donation for Blanket Town through our new page of the CID's site.

Article about Blanket Town in Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa's Newsletter

Check out the update about Blanket Town in the Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa Newsletter. Special thanks to F.A.N.S. for helping to spread the word about the film.

Film About Swannanoa's 
Beacon Mill Nears Completion
Final editing is underway for the  documentary film Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of An American Mill Town, directed by Swannanoa resident Rebecca Williams. Years in themaking, Blanket Town traces the rise and fall of Beacon Manufacturing, the "big red thumping heart" of Swannanoa, once the largest blanket manufacturer in the world. The film examines the complex legacy of textiles in the South and looks at what happens to a small mountain community when it loses its economic engine and heart. "The story of Beacon is the story of the textile industry and other manufacturing in the U.S." states Williams. "It's about a way of life that once supplied thousands of people decent housing, strong communities and steady jobs." 

Blanket Town looks at what life was like during Beacon's heyday, with mill village housing and company baseball teams that played in the South's textile league. It's filled with first-person interviews of former Beacon workers, testimony from historians and mill scholars, archival footage of Swannanoa shot in the 1920s, and hundreds of historical photographs. The film also takes a look at the legacy of the Beacon blankets themselves, which featured complex and colorful designs.

In addition to its historical perspective, Blanket Town explores how Swannanoa is faring in its post-Beacon economy. Williams and cinematographer and Swannanoa native, Sam Scott, could be seen recently filming and talking with locals at Swannanoa landmarks such as The Breakfast Shoppe and Native Kitchen. 

Musician and Swannanoa resident, Laurie Fisher, will join music producer George Scott in his Swannanoa Juice Box studio to record some old-time tunes on her fiddle and banjo for the film. The soundtrack for Blanket Town features local musicians and songwriters, including Robert (Bert) Brown, the NC Carburetors, and former Warren Wilson College students Cameron Lash and Lucy Martier. The lyrics of several songs used in the film were inspired by interviews with former Beacon workers.

Anyone interested in keeping an eye on the progress of the film is encouraged to go to the Blanket Town website and like the Blanket Town Facebook page, which recently posted a video made by Beacon in the 1990's that garnered over 14,000 views in one week. "It's pretty amazing to see how deeply people still feel connected to Beacon," says Williams. "People are using the film's Facebook page to reminisce, tell stories, honor family members, and connect with long lost friends."

The producers are still raising funds to complete the film, including paying for a finishing editor, and music, color and sound correction. Funds are also needed to purchase licensing rights for historical photos, songs and footage. The project has been funded in large part by generous donations from hundreds of individuals, as well as grants from The North Carolina Humanities Council, The North Carolina Arts Council, and Alternate ROOTS. If you'd like to help bring the film to completion, you can make a secure tax-deductible donation via Paypal at Donors can also send a check to Serpent Child Productions, 215 Wilson Ave, Swannanoa, NC.

The documentary will be submitted to film festivals this spring and summer. Williams also plans to offer a preview screening of the film to local residents. Stay tuned for details.

For the complete F.A.N.S. newsletter click here.