Sunday, June 16, 2013

Poe, Woodside, and Mills Mill

The site of former Poe Mill recently made news when the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority recently received a grant to clear the rubble from the site. A park is envisioned in its place. The site is scheduled to be cleared this fall, so I made plans to visit the site to take photos of the site when the first good opportunity arose. A cool (for June), clear morning was my first good opportunity to visit Poe Mill and two other historic mills on the west end of Greenville: Woodside Mill and Mills Mill.

These textile mills, like many other textile mills in Greenville and the rest of South Carolina, closed one by one as lower-cost foreign competition turned profits into losses. I first visited Poe Mill.

Poe Mill

Poe Mill was one of many textile mills that once ringed the city of Greenville. The mill was built in 1896 by F. W. Poe. The mill changed owners a few times over the years until the mill closed for good in 1977. The mill burned down in 2003.

An interesting oddity I noticed right away is the tree growing out of the right smokestack.
Inside the fence is a community built skate park. I would hope the park planners find a way to incorporate the idea into the park that gets built.
On the other side of the street is the Poe Mill office building, now occupied by an art gallery.

I briefly consider exploring the area, but a syringe I found in the parking lot of the former office building (shown above) quickly changed my mind. 

For a more detailed history of Poe Mill, I recommend Poe Mill and It's Village (in PDF format) by Judith Bainbridge .

Woodside Mill

The second mill I visited was Woodside Mill. The mill was built in 1902 by the Woodside Cotton Mill Company with John Woodside as president and his brother David as secretary and treasurer. The mill closed permanently in 1984.
The building is in good shape. The only oddity I noticed is the windows have been inconsistently bricked up.
The paint on the bottom of water tower is flaking off, but otherwise the tower is in in good shape.
And no, I didn't see Yakko, Wakko, or Dot.

If you ever wondered where new Home Depots were made, wonder no more.
While walking around the mill, I noticed several "Beware of the Dog" signs.
Never did see the dog.

The sidewalk could definitely use some maintenance. Trip hazards abound here.
In November 2012, plans were announced to renovate the mill into condominiums. But in March 2013, that plan was canceled leaving the future of the mill once again uncertain.

For a more detailed history of this mill, I recommend Woodside Mill History (PDF format) by former mill village resident John Hall and Woodside Community (PDF format) by Judith Brainbridge. The mill and mill village listed together in the National Register of Historic Places.

Mills Mill

Mills Mill is the third and last of the mills I visited today, and the only one of the three successfully rehabilitated. I made an unplanned stop here to have a success story to go out on. Mills Mill was built by Otis Mills, and operated from 1897 to 1978. The building housed retail outlets and apartments from 1979 to 1996. I even remember shopping there with my mom sometime back in the early to mid 1980s. The building has since been converted to condominiums.The building exterior has survived mostly unchanged, and the grounds have been nicely landscaped.
For a more detailed history of this mill, I recommend Wikipedia's entry or Mills Mill Community (PDF format) by Judith Brainbridge. Mills Mill is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Wrapup

I created a map of the three mills, their locations, and the approximate boundaries of the mill villages.


Histories of other mills that once ringed Greenville are available in PDF format from the community maps section of Parker Sewer District's website.

I uploaded a photo album of my trip to Google Photos and Flickr.

3 comments:

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  2. (Sorry, had to delete my double post)

    Actually, all of the windows of Woodside mill are bricked up. That came about when air conditioning was installed in the first half of the last century. Those "windows" you see there are all plastic fakes. It's just inserts stuck in the bricked up openings by the company that now owns the mill to show the potential of what the mill would look like if it were ever renovated into condos and stores and the like. If you were to walk up to the "windows" and try to look inside, you'd see that they're just black plastic sheets with more brick behind them.

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