A photo of Cone Hall, which was completed in 1968. Found in “Cone Residence Hall,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed April 17, 2019, https://omeka.library.appstate.edu/items/show/7362.
Moses H. Cone was born on June 29, 1857 in Jonesboro, Tennessee. Cone’s father emigrated from Germany to America in the late 1840s, and upon arriving, changed his family name from Kahn to Cone. Moses Cone’s start in the business world was as a traveling salesman for his father’s business, H. Cone and Sons, which was a dry goods store. After their father Herman Cone retired in 1884, Moses and his brother Ceasar inherited the family business. Soon after, the brothers decided to liquidate the business and pursue growth in the southern textile industry. The pair’s first business deal was with C.E. Graham when the brothers invested $50,000 into the Graham’s manufacturing company. Moses Cone was made an officer in the mill as part of the business deal with Graham. The Cones also made investments in two other mills, the Minneola Manufacturing Company of Gibsonville and the Salisbury Cotton Mills. Both of the mills were textile mills and represented the Cones taking greater control of the textile industry.
In 1890, the Cones established the Cone Export and Commission Company in New York, The Cone Export and Commission Company’s main focus was to market textiles for mills. In 1895, the Cones constructed the Proximity Cotton Mill in Greensboro, NC on a plot of land the two had purchased. The mill represented the first textile mill that the brothers owned and operated, despite investing in mills previously. Regardless of this success, the pair required additional funding from other Southern industrialists, including members of the Duke family, known for their involvement in the tobacco industry Proximity mill manufactured denim and the success of the mill resulted in the Cones opening a second mill in 1900. The new mill, dubbed the Revolution Cotton Mill, produced mostly flannel. The Cone brothers wanted a larger control of the denim industry and looked for land for another mill for a few years before negotiating the right deal and building their third mill, White Oak. White Oak Mill would be opened in 1905 and remains a supplier of Levi Strauss & Co. In 1908, Moses Cone died from a heart condition and his wife Bertha Cone created a trust that established Flat Top Manor, Moses Cone’s estate, as a public park. Also included in the trust was funding to construct the Moses H. Cone Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. After Bertha’s death in 1947, the Moses H. Cone Hospital was completed. Flat Top Manor was then transferred to the care of the National Park Service.
Moses H. Cone had direct ties to Appalachian State University as after Dauphin Dougherty’s Watauga Academy was chartered in 1903 by the General Assembly. Cone gave the largest donation of $500 (roughly $15,000 today) in order to transform the academy into the Appalachian Training School for Teachers. Following this, Cone served on the board of trustees for the Appalachian Training School for Teachers.
Cone Hall, completed in 1968, was named for Moses and Bertha Cone. The building was originally constructed as a female dormitory. Cone Hall was one of the buildings that were the subject of a dedication ceremony on May 18, 1969. Those in attendance were D. S. Coltrane, William Howard Plemmons, and Charles Cannon. In 2013, Cone Hall achieved Gold LEED Certification, joining Frank Hall and Mountaineer Hall, that also achieved the Gold LEED Certification in 2010 and 2012. The Gold certification is the second highest distinction of LEEDS. The distinctions are (Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified). LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is representative of “globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.” The Gold certification is the second highest distinction of LEEDS. The distinctions are (Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified) . LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is representative of “globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.”
The Cone Family does have a history of owning slaves. According to a letter from Caesar A. Cone to Paul Fink in Appalachian State’s Cone Family Collection, 1850-1969, Herman Cone and his brother-in-law Jacob Alder purchased three slaves in 1863. Moses and Ceasar Cone were also known to run his mills, like many others, patriarchally. While this information is important to the overall context of understanding the Cone family, Moses did not own slaves. Therefore, it is important to consider that according to a 1930 article in The Greensboro Daily News, Moses was called a “True Benefactor” Given, Moses Cone’s contributions to Greensboro and Appalachian State University it is clear he fits the description.