Cotton Press (Tarboro, North Carolina)

Cotton Press
Tarboro cotton press
Cotton Press (Tarboro, North Carolina) is located in North Carolina
Location: Albemarle Street
Town Common, Tarboro, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°53′57″N 77°32′18″W / 35.89917°N 77.53833°W / 35.89917; -77.53833Coordinates: 35°53′57″N 77°32′18″W / 35.89917°N 77.53833°W / 35.89917; -77.53833
Built: 1840
Governing body: Local
NRHP Reference#: 71000582[1]
Added to NRHP: February 18, 1971

The Tarboro Cotton Press, which is also called the Norfleet Cotton Press or the Edgecombe County Cotton Press is a wooden cotton press built in the mid 18th century in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. It was moved to the Town Common of Tarboro, North Carolina. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places on February 18, 1971.[1][2]


The first owner of the press was Isaac Norfleet at a plantation about 2.5 mi (4 km) southwest of Tarboro in Edgecombe County. It was originally a cider and wine press.[3][4] Around 1860, the press was converted to a cotton press because of the growing need to process the cotton crop.[3] The press is constructed of yellow pine. It has a large screw that is used to compress the cotton into a wooden form to produce the bale. The supporting frame has four upright posts with braces. There are two long booms. These booms or poles have been called "buzzard wings."[5] Animal hitches were attached to the booms. Mules and oxen were used to rotate the screw. The overall height of the press is 22 ft (7 m).[2][3][4][6]

Pictures of the cotton press at its original location show a rectangular open shed with a steep hip roof. The top of the press extends through this roof. It is covered by a smaller, rectangular hip roof that rotates with the screw.[7]

In 1938, the press was moved to Tarboro's Town Common on Albemarle Street, but its shed was demolished. A small octagonal hip roof was built over the press.[2] Restoration of the cotton press was finished in 1976.[3] The octagonal roof was removed and a pavilion resembling the original shed has been built to protect the cotton press from the elements.[6][8]

Additional pictures of the cotton press were taken for the Historic American Building Survey.[9] Other pictures are available.[3][6][8]

There is a similar, older wooden cotton press near Latta, South Carolina.[10] Another antebellum cotton press without the buzzard wings poles is at Magnolia Plantation near Derry, Louisiana. This press has a fixed screw and its base is rotated to compress the cotton.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b c McDonald, Melissa (June 28, 1983). "Cotton Press (Architectural Data Form)". Historic American Building Survey. National Park Service.,+Cotton+Press,+Albermarle+Street++moved+from+Norfleet+Plantation+,+Tarboro,+Edgecombe+County,+NC)). Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Norfleet Cotton Press, Tarboro, North Carolina". The Built Heritage of North Carolina. North Carolina State University.,-Tarboro,-No. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Edgecombe County Cotton Press". Arts, Attractions and Museums. Town of Tarboro. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Jones, C. Allan (2005). Texas Roots. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1585444294. 
  6. ^ a b c "Edgecombe County Cotton Press". Visit Tarboro. Historic Tarboro. Retrieved 26 April 2006. 
  7. ^ Johnston, Frances Benjamin (1947). The Early Architecture of North Carolina (2nd ed.). Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 9, 11. 
  8. ^ a b "Viewing Cotton Press". Edgecombe, North Carolina. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  9. ^ "Norfleet Plantation, Cotton Press, Albermarle Street (moved from Norfleet Plantation), Tarboro, Edgecombe County, NC (photographs)". Historic American Building Survey. National Park Service.,%20Cotton%20Press,%20Albermarle%20Street%20(moved%20from%20Norfleet%20Plantation),%20Tarboro,%20Edgecombe%20County,%20NC&displayType=1&itemLink=S?pp/hh:@field(TITLE+@od1(Norfleet+Plantation,+Cotton+Press,+Albermarle+Street++moved+from+Norfleet+Plantation+,+Tarboro,+Edgecombe+County,+NC)). Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  10. ^ "Early Cotton Press, Dillon County (jct. of SC Hwys. 917 & 38, Latta vicinity)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 22 April 2009. 
  11. ^ "Magnolia Plantation". Cane River National Heritage Area. National Park Service. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  12. ^ Fricker, Jonathon; Fricker, Donna (November 1999). "Magnolia Plantation" (pdf). National Historic Landmark Nomination. National Park Service. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 

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