Banning Mill
Picker Room

At Banning, bales of cotton from surrounding farms were first delivered to the picker room, see map, where a handful of underpaid workers would break open the bales and remove the remaining seeds and foreign debris. As the bales were open, the room would fill with bits of cotton dust which was highly flammable. Because fire was a mill’s most dangerous adversary, the men in the picker room had to sort the cotton without the aid of kerosene lamps. The picker room was originally lit by enclosed lamps hung on the outside of the windows. A thankless job, picking was done by hand until the invention of the lap-frame which brushed the cotton through sets of rotating teeth. It is unclear when Banning received its first lap-frame, but Sanborn maps show the process done by hand up to 1911.

As the business increased, the picker room was the first place to employee African American men.

These pictures were taken shortly after restoration work began on the outer walls and roof.