James G Hanes Foundation

A Lifetime of Success and Service

The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA)
The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) located on the James G. Hanes estate in Winston-Salem

James Gordon Hanes Sr., industrialist and civic leader, was born in Winston, North Carolina in 1886. He was one of six sons of John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes and nephew of Pleasant Henderson Hanes Sr. who along with his brother, John Wesley, started the P.H. Hanes Tobacco company in 1872.

The brothers sold their company to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1900 and shortly thereafter started two separate businesses within the textile and apparel industries, P.H. Hanes Knitwear and Shamrock Hosiery Mills which later became Hanes Hosiery Mills.

James G. Hanes Sr. graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1909 and soon thereafter went to work for his father in the hosiery business, becoming president of Hanes Hosiery in 1917. By the mid-1950s Hanes Hosiery had become the largest manufacturer of seamless hosiery in the world. When seamless hosiery first appeared on the market, James Hanes said, “ Nature gave you seamless legs; Hanes gives you seamless stockings.”

James G. Hanes Sr., like his father, was involved in civic activities for his entire life. He served on the Board of Aldermen of Winston-Salem and in 1925 was elected mayor where he served for two terms. He was elected to the County Commissioners and served as the chairman of that board for 22 years.

The James G. Hanes Memorial Fund was set up by Mr. Hanes’s second wife, Molly Ruffin Hanes, after his first wife, Emmie Drewry Hanes, died during childbirth. At his death, James Hanes Sr. along with his son, James Gordon Hanes Jr. created a foundation, which included his home, in order to support, among other things, art in a home like surrounding. With a substantial additional contribution from his son, James Gordon Hanes Jr., the earlier Memorial Fund and newer Hanes Foundation, were merged into the current James G. Hanes Foundation.

The Foundation has supported organizations and disciplines covering all manner of human endeavors. There are no geographic or disciplines that are excluded; however, primary emphasis has been in the state of North Carolina and to organizations in the Arts, Education, Medicine, and Environmental issues.