On the summit of Paris Mountain

Altamont Hotel circa 1895 [source]

I had a day off Monday and, in response to a suggestion from Tom Taylor at RandomConnections, I went up to the summit of Paris Mountain to look for any ruins from the old Altamont Hotel. Large towers filled with antennas and surrounded by razor wire fences now stand on the area where the hotel once stood, so my chances of finding hotel ruins were tiny. The summit features a nice view of the surrounding area, however, making the trip worthwhile for that reason alone.

The Altamont Hotel (also known as the Paris Mountain Hotel) was built in 1889, but was sold 8 years later in 1898 to Reverend N. J. Holmes. N. J. Holmes repurposed the hotel to serve as the home of the new Altamont Bible and Missionary Institute, with later name changes to Holmes Bible and Missionary Institute and to Holmes Bible College. The hotel would become vacant when the institute moved away to Columbia, then Atlanta, then to the city of Greenville. The institute sold off the hotel to help pay for the new Greenville location in 1918 to Augustus M. Hayes. Hayes had intended to develop the property as a modern resort or a sanitarium, but in 1920 the hotel burned down and wasn't rebuilt.

In the mid-1940s, the South Carolina Forestry Commission relocated the Paris Mountain fire tower to the summit from its former location reachable from Fire Tower Trail in Paris Mountain State Park. Towers for television and other services would sprout soon after.

Fire tower, now decommissioned
Two of many towers at the summit

The view from the summit does present a nice view of the surrounding areas below:

Piney Mountain
Piney Mountain from the summit
Greenville from the summit
Greenville from the summit
Tom had sent me a link to his 2007 photo of an abandoned building near the summit.

Paris Mountain Lomo
by Flickr photographer RandomConnections
I was quite shocked to discover the building was now gone! Poof!

Site of abandoned building
Site of abandoned building, now gone.
I walked over to see what ruins I might find, only to find nothing but dead kudzu.

Nothing there now!
Closeup of site of abandoned building
A small part of the hotel was made from brick according to the photo of the hotel above, so I searched the through the kudzu for brick rubble, and I did find some scattered around.

These bricks could be from the hotel, but, more likely, they are leftovers from the construction of the buildings associated with the towers.

I found an exposed pipe near the site of Caesar's Head Hotel, and I found one here too in the kudzu.

Exposed pipe near site of Caesar's Head Hotel
Exposed pipe near site of Altamont Hotel
I had more luck in a wooded area which has remained undisturbed by tower construction and vandals. I found a long line of stacked rocks running near an old rusty fence.

Organized line of rocks
Line of rocks running through the frame and beyond
After more exploring, I came across a campfire pit made from bricks.

Campfire near abandoned building

Near the campfire pit is an abandoned car, long ago stripped of anything useful.

Big time fixxer upper

Also nearby is an SC Forestry Forestry Commission abandoned building.

Abandoned SC Forestry Commission building

The building seemed in no danger of imminent collapse and no signs were posted to keep out, so I explored the inside.

Abandoned SC Forestry Commission building - inside

Abandoned SC Forestry Commission building inside - 2 Abandoned SC Forestry Commission building inside- 3
I found children's literature containing an address for the South Carolina Forestry Commission inside the building.

Unfortunately, the summit is littered with trash, lots and lots of bottles, and even a few CDs.

Along the side of the road, I even found what I will euphemistically call a "marital aid".

A few feet away, I found another "marital aid".

Mmmmhmmm. Maybe they went for round two or something.

Anyway, I also noticed a lot of graffiti. With all these goings on, it's no wonder all the buildings up there are equipped with razor wire fencing and surveillance cameras.

I didn't find what I didn't expect to find anyway, and I found some things I didn't know were here. And the view from the summit is nice. So I'm going to call this trip a win.

Update: I went back a few days later in Back on the summit of Paris Mountain.

References and Further Reading


  1. Interesting pictures. I've only been once, and didn't make it to the top, so I appreciate the details.

  2. Great photos and write-up as usual, Mark. I'm going to have to get back up there and find that old Forestry building.

    Right after you turn onto Tower Road, just at the first bend there is an old set of stone steps. I think this is part of the grounds for the Altamont Hotel.

    When I was about 9 years old my father made us try to climb the old fire tower. Back then it wasn't locked behind a fence. I remember it being VERY scary.

    Ed - we need to get you to go with us on one of these adventures.

  3. Tom, I was probably too busy watching those tight turns to notice those steps. And I bet it'll tie in with those stones I found. You know I gotta go back now, right? lol. Good thing it's only a few miles away.

    I believe you're right about those steps. When I look at the 1938 and the 1955 USGS quad maps of the summit, I see Tower Road as we know it didn't exist until sometime after 1938. And they had to get up there somehow, so those steps seem like a good answer to me.

    Ed, come on out with us. I need someone to record when I slip and trip ;)


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