The City of Mebane traces its beginnings to the early 19th century when a post office was established in 1809. The town was named for Brigadier General Alexander Mebane of the North Carolina Militia and a member of Congress in the 1790's. In 1855, the railroad arrived and Mebane was incorporated in 1881 as the town of Mebanesville. The name was officially changed to Mebane in 1883. The charter was amended to the City of Mebane in February of 1987.
Also in 1881, Mebane's industrial growth began with establishment of the former White Furniture Company, followed by the Mebane Bedding Company (now Kingsdown) in 1904 and the Ridgeville Telephone Company (now MebTel Communications) in 1907.
The first public water supply and wastewater treatment facilities were constructed in 1921, and Lake Michael was completed in 1953. Mebane no longer uses Lake Michael as its primary water source.
Mebane's first government meetings were held in a drugstore. Early government consisted of a Mayor and four Town Commissioners. Today, the main Municipal Building at 106 E. Washington Street houses the Water Department, the City Manager and Administrative offices, as well as the City Council Chambers.
In his Centennial History of Alamance County, which was published in 1949, Walter Whitaker writes that "Stephen A. White settled in 1854 in the village that was to become Mebane. Frank Mebane and Thomas B. Thompson built homes near the White place in the following year, and a number of other families began to move into community from Hawfields".
The town was granted a charter in the year 1881, and was then designated Mebanesville. Whitaker states that Stephen A. White became the first mayor of the town in 1881.
The first recorded town meeting was held on May 8, 1882 and was called by mayor-elect W.H. Lasley. The first board of town commissioners included S.A. White, W. O. Fowler, J.F. Trollinger, and D.A. White. D.A. White was the first secretary and treasurer.
Water and sewer facilities were placed in operation in Mebane during the year 1921. The first paving of streets, curbing and guttering was done in 1922, and the town's first sidewalks were laid. It was during this same year that W. T. Dillard was authorized by the town commissioners to organize the first volunteer fire company.
The industrial growth of Mebane began in 1881 with the organization of the White Furniture Company. Other industrial firms still in operation in Mebane today are devoted to the making of bed springs and mattresses, full fashioned and half hose, and children's wearing apparel. The local tobacco market has been recognized for its importance to the area for approximately 25 years.
A look at the population figures of Mebane reveals a strong trend toward expansion and growth. In 1900 the census count was 218. An increase to 693 was noted in 1910. By 1920 this total had swelled to 1351, and in 1930 it was tallied at 1568. The official record in 1940 was 2060, and in 1950 the number of people was set at 2068. It should be noted that this figure is for the population dwelling inside the corporate limits of the town, and does not include those persons residing in the rural areas. There has been a marked trend during the past ten years toward the construction of dwellings in the rural fringe areas just outside the town limits.
The Town of Mebane stands 678 feet above sea level. This places it at a higher altitude than either of the other cities of Alamance County. Average rainfall for the area is 45.98 inches.