New life planned for NC mill village used as filming location for 'The Hunger Games'

HILDEBRAN, NC (WBTV) - It is a spot down a winding road in Burke County that has attracted attention for years.

An old mill village that was built before 1910 that looks as if it was abandoned overnight.

In effect, that's what happened when the old cotton mill closed and then burned years later in the 1970s.

The empty homes, without running water, and the old company office and store weathered the years but kept standing.

At one point it got the attention of Hollywood producers. They were looking for some old homes to film a major movie, "The Hunger Games."

The Henry River Mill Village was perfect, they thought.

The movie's fame brought people from all over to look at the old village. Some did more than look.

Joe Cline, who lived in the village as a boy said a few folks stole things for souvenirs or to sell. "They broke in four or five times in the store."

When the property went up for sale he was certain the village's days were numbered.

"Someone would come in and destroy it," he thought.

Calvin Reyes and his family, however, had different ideas.

They bought the village and now have plans to protect the past and look to the future.

"It's all about the history," said Calvin. An intact mill village is rare, he says, and is part of North Carolina's heritage.

He says a non-profit has been set up to preserve historical items found and to establish a museum on the property for educational purposes.

At the same time, the family wants to put a restaurant on the property, restore some homes and set up some businesses too.

"We want the village to have life again."

The plan is to make it a spot that people will visit as a family, or a class, and also where weddings and other events can be held.

Every weekend, a crew is on scene doing some work. In April, they hope to start ghost tours in the village.

This weekend they will have their first Mill Vill Festival to raise money for the non-profit and give folks a chance to get a close look at the village and the plans for the future.

The event will start Saturday at noon and go until 4.

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