Gish Flats History
Gish Flats represents a mixed adaptive reuse and urban infill residential project on the prominent downtown crossroads of 5th and Court Streets in Lynchburg's Fifth Street Historic District. The District, as recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, began its development in the early nineteenth century as a gateway to Lynchburg, connecting the booming town with points westward as evidenced by transportation-oriented businesses of the period. During the late nineteenth century, Fifth Street (also known variably as Seventh Alley, Cocke Street, or West Street) hosted high-end residential offerings all the while serving as the principal scene of commerce for the area's community.
The historic building at 410 Court Street was constructed in 1883 as the R. E. Gish Tobacco Factory principally known for its production of snuff tobacco products. It continued to be used as a tobacco factory and warehouse until 1920 when it became the Lynchburg Hosiery Mill #2 established by Joseph Burton of Nottingham England. Lynchburg Hosiery Mills was one of the first to install fully automatic seamless knitting machines. Holding the first contract with the US Army, the mill manufactured socks during WWI and WWII for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Later, the mill's production included ladies' hosiery, golf socks, parachutes, and wool blankets.
Joseph Burton's only son, Clarence Burton, became president of the company in 1921. Clarence would eventually serve as Lynchburg's Mayor from 1946 to 1948 then subsequently as Congressman holding Virginia's Sixth District congressional seat. In 1968, C. Burton Gerhardt, of the locally prominent Gerhardt family, was named president of Lynchburg Hosiery Mills, Inc. The Gerhardt family would later take title to the property at 410 Court Street maintaining ownership of it until sold in 2014.