The mill village of Graniteville was chartered in 1845 by William Gregg, founder of the town a well as the Graniteville Mill. Gregg, who had invested in the nearby small-scale mill village of Vaucluse in 1837, was ready to establish the South’s first large-scale mill village after touring similar towns in the Northeast in 1844. After purchasing nearly 8,000 acres near Horse Creek, he began constructing the textile manufacturing company and its surrounding hamlet in 1846. He named the town for the local blue granite used to build his mill.
In his town plan, Gregg set aside land for two churches – St. John Methodist and First Baptist of Graniteville – as well as a school, Graniteville Academy. Twenty-six houses for mill workers and their families were also built along Gregg Street at the town’s inception, as seen below. By the time the textile mill was in operation in 1849, 100 such mill houses had been built throughout the village.
In keeping with architectural continuity, all of the early buildings, including the school, churches, and mill houses, were built in the Carpenter Gothic style. This design makes Graniteville one of the more ornate mill villages developed in the South. Residents rented their on-and-a-half story homes from the manufacturing company for $16 to $25 per year. By the 1950s the mill had sold its homes to residents or other buyers. Most of the mill houses have been updated, though they retain their original appearance.
The Gregg Street mill houses are listed in the National Register as part of the Graniteville Historic District, which says the following:
The Graniteville Historic District consists of the Graniteville Canal, which dates to 1846; the original two and one-half story Graniteville Mill constructed of locally quarried granite and completed in 1849; twenty-six original workers’ houses in Early Gothic Revival style, most of whose exteriors are virtually unaltered; nine other units of early mill housing; the 1847 Graniteville Academy where operatives children were educated at company expense; and the Early Gothic Revival St. John’s Methodist Church, designed by Charleston architect E.B. White and completed in 1849. Most of these structures were either constructed by William Gregg or under his close supervision, and many still retain much of their original architectural vitality. While building the mill, Gregg supervised construction of a company town, thus bringing into existence the first typical southern mill village. By providing cheap housing, free schools, churches, and stores and by maintaining personal supervision over the morals and everyday lies of his operatives, Gregg established a pattern that would be emulated by scores of cotton mill owners throughout the region.
Graniteville Mill Houses Info
Address: Gregg Street, Graniteville, SC 29829
GPS Coordinates: 33.565266,-81.805510
Graniteville Mill Houses Map
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