The HatcheryThe Hatchery

The Earle-Chesterfield Mill Company Hatchery was built circa 1955 by the Earle family as an addition to the existing feed and flour mill. They chose to add on the made-up Chesterfield name to make the business sound more bourgeois.

In a time when the poultry business was booming at a national level, the Hatchery spearheaded the industry in western North Carolina. The original purpose was to grow chickens, but the Earles went on to distribute to growers on various farms in North and South Carolina. The Earles would supply the chickens and the feed and then take them to market.

The poultry corporation was the culmination of a very successful business enterprise that had very simple beginnings. Fortunately, when the market became flooded in the South and the profit margin declined in the late 1960s, the Earles had the foresight to get out of the business. Mr. Earle was known as a fair and generous employer and, as such, his workers never unionized; Earle even helped them all find jobs when the Hatchery closed.

The Hatchery ca. 1950s
The Mill (building on right next to silos) and the Hatchery (far left).

Urvana bought the Hatchery in 2006 from Walter Johnson who, as a teenager, helped build the Hatchery for the Earles including digging the footings by hand. Later in life, Johnson bought the building which he used as a workshop for ten years.

Urvana's renovation of the Hatchery is the first phase of the Earle-Chesterfield Mill Site development. As a Brownfield development, the site required an environmental cleanup which included the removal of a leaking 1,035 gallon kerosene tank (used to heat incubators) and 48 cubic yards of polluted soil. The project was handled by Alpha Environmental Services and coordinated through the EPA’s Brownfield Program.

Studio space is now available at The Hatchery! Click here to visit