This post office, located in the unincorporated Aiken County community of Vaucluse (pronounced “VOH • cloos”), was established in 1904 to serve employees of the Vaucluse Mill. The former textile mill (comprised of brick and shown in the background) began production in 1830. It was designed by the architectural firm of Lockwood and Greene, which would later go on to design roughly 50 other mill facilities in South Carolina. Several other buildings and over 80 residences were added over the decades, and together they form the oldest mill complex in our state.
One of the mill’s founders, William Gregg, used the Vaucluse Mill as a springboard to develop his prosperous Graniteville Mill. Though Gregg – often considered to be the father of the southern textile industry – deemed the Vaucluse Mill too inefficient to be profitable, the mill continued operation until 1991.
Today the mill serves as a transportation depot for the Graniteville Mill. The mill village, along with the post office, is listed in the National Register:
Vaucluse historic district includes the Vaucluse mill compound, located in the center of the village; a ca. 1904 three-building commercial complex located just north of the mill compound; a company built swimming pavilion; the 1877 mill dam; the Vaucluse mill pond; and 83 former company dwellings located in parallel rows along five of the villages residential streets that extend in a rough spoke fashion from the mill compound. The general character of the historic district is a combination of industrial, commercial, and residential use. The Vaucluse mill dominates all other structures in the village; the mill compound includes an 1877 boiler house and smokestack, seven brick hose houses, a 1939 office building, and a 1943 employee canteen.
The textile mill village at Vaucluse is an excellent example of a southern textile mill village. It is the oldest mill village in the state, with textile production commencing there around 1830. Contextually, it relates to the birth, rise and decline of the textile industry in South Carolina. In addition, Vaucluse represents the social changes brought about by the spread of mill villages in the state, with the development of the mill worker population created by the expansion of the textile industry. Vaucluse was also the site of William Gregg’s first foray into textile production, with many historians considering Gregg to be the father of the textile industry in the South. The 1877 mill building was also one of the earliest efforts of architect Amos Lockwood, whose subsequent firm, Lockwood and Greene, would go on to design 50 textile manufacturing facilities in South Carolina. Lockwood’s factory design at Vaucluse was of the earliest examples of the New England prototype mill to be built in South Carolina.
Reflections on Vaucluse
Photographer Steve Rich, who contributed the photo above, also shares a bit about his first-hand experiences at both the Vaucluse and Graniteville mills: “32 years ago I was a supervisor at the Vaucluse Textile Plant, the brick building up the road from this Post Office. It was sad to walk the area and see the place very run down. Graniteville Company produced quality fabrics since the 1800s. In 1978 I was promoted to a supervisor at this plant – many good memories. Common features of mill town structures include the white lap boards on all buildings and the roof style is all the same.”