As one views the Kayser-Roth building today, it is hard to imagine the hustle and bustle of a progressive manufacturing business of yesterday. The once humming machines are not only idle, but are gone from the structure, having been shipped back to corporate headquarters in North Carolina. Workers are also absent from the closed mill; some having found jobs elsewhere, others are hoping to find jobs close to Rhea County so they will not have to leave their homes and move. There is sadness anytime a company closes, especially having been in business for one hundred and five years as Kayser-Roth had!
A newspaper article from the “Dayton Herald” dated October 3, 1963 will bring back memories for many people as this relates to the expansion of Kayser-Roth mill. This news article was on the front page of that particular newspaper and is entitled, “City to Swap Land with Guard for Kayser-Roth.” The write-up had no author listed and is written here as it appeared in that newspaper forty-six years ago:
CITY TO SWAP LAND WITH GUARD FOR KAYSER-ROTH
“The Dayton City commission has agreed to discuss a swap of land with the Tenn. National Guard in order to provide expansion room for Kayser-Roth hosiery mill on North Broadway.
The National Guard owns five acres on Broadway next to the railroad on which is located its garage building being used as a meeting place for the unit here. This land was purchased from Kayser-Roth Company several years ago. Now Kayser-Roth needs the acreage for industrial expansion and wants it returned. However, the Guard needs land somewhere.
The City commissioners have agreed to swap acreage in the industrial park north of town for the acreage Kayser-Roth needs. This would solve the problem at the moment, City Manager Rodney Lawler said.
Looking to the future, Lawler explained that when the National Guard is ready to build a multiple service building which will be used as an armory. A public meeting hall plus other uses, the Guard would then build in the industrial park and sell the city the present building.
The cost of the building built recently at South Pittsburg, and which could be built at Dayton, was about $130,000. The federal government puts up 75%, the state department 12 ½%, and the city and county government each put up 6 ¼% of the total cost. Thus Rhea County could get a true armory building for use by the public at a cost of about $8,000 each for the city and county. This building program is in the future, however, Lawler said, and does not affect the present swap of land.”
After this news article was written, Kayser-Roth went through many changes and survived many changes, including its 100 birthday celebration in 2013 which included a visit from the Governor of Tennessee. Kayser-Roth will certainly be remembered as a part of Rhea County’s history, and we need to remember to look to the past in order to live in the present and prepare for the future.