Graham’s Trailhead Church brings new life back to historic mill

Trailhead Church in Graham hosted its grand opening last weekend, revealing years of extensive renovations that brought new life to a historic mill.

Located at 615 W. Harden St., the former mill was built in the 1930s and ceased operations in 2002, according to Executive Pastor Dave deBlecourt. Trailhead Church purchased the property in 2018 and completed extensive renovations to restore the facility.

“For like a year we were doing demolition because the building was full of all kinds of stuff,” deBlecourt said. “In 2019, we started construction in full. … Things slowed down during COVID so it took a little longer than expected.”

DeBlecourt said there were many obstacles throughout the process, but with the help of volunteers and donated efforts, the church’s new design came to life.

“With the help of Rehab Builders Inc., the general contractors responsible for the restoration of nearby Oneida Mill (Graham) and White Furniture Company (Mebane), and thousands of volunteer hours from both church and community members, the site has been fully upfitted for modern use with careful attention being paid to maintaining the historic nature of the building, including restoring the original flooring and re-using original materials for decoration and structural renovations throughout the facility,” a press release from the church said.

Among the historical elements still represented in the church is a significant amount of original woodwork which was reused for the stairs, sanctuary floor, and wall decor.

Original wood from the mill has been repurposed throughout the church, connecting to the building's history.

“From the moment we got it, we walked through and thought this is really unique. One of the things we love is being able to bring it back to life because it has been a part of the community for such a long time,” he said. “We had people here on Sunday who said my aunt worked here or my mom or lots of stories like that.”