South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Orr-Lyons Mill — Anderson, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Anderson County  |  Orr-Lyons Mill

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Orr-Lyons Mill

The Orr Cotton Mill was established in Anderson in 1899 by Colonel James Lawrence Orr, Jr. Thanks to the Portman Shoals Generator, Orr Cotton Mill became the first textile mill in the South to use only electricity from a remote commercial generator to power its plant. In 1909, 650 employees were operating more than 57,000 spindles and 1,500 looms; by 1930, the mill had grown to 750 employees operating over 60,000 spindles. The mill was acquired by New York-based textile business, the M. Lowenstein Company, in 1946.

Orr-Lyons Mills Smokestack

Kathy Dickerson of Greenwood, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Residential homes for mill workers perviously owned by the mill were sold to employees in 1949 in keeping with the M. Lowenstein Company’s policy of providing affordable home ownership to its workers. In 1958 the mill added a synthetics division. That division of the mill was called Lyons Mill for John Lyons, who had served as mill superintendent from its first days through the 1950s and then as president of the company beginning in 1960. In 1986 Orr-Lyons Mill was acquired by Springs Industries; the mill closed in 1990.

Orr-Lyons Mill Historical

Courtesy of Kathy Dickerson of Greenwood, 1924 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The mill property was purchased in 2005 by North Carolina developer Mike Harmon. Although it had operated for over a century – and even survived a tornado in 1924 (see photo above) – Harmon demolished the mill almost immediately after he purchased it, with materials from the 1899 warehouse being salvaged and reused in other building projects. However, Harmon left the smokestack intact as an historical reminder of the landmark textile mill.

Orr-Lyons Mill Info

Address: June Avenue, Anderson, SC 29624
GPS Coordinates: 34.484579,-82.649513

Orr-Lyons Mill Map

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3 Comments about Orr-Lyons Mill

SC Picture Project says:
February 7th, 2019 at 12:07 am

Thank you for the correction, we will update this! Do you have any other memories/stories you’d want to share about your time working there? We would love to hear them if so! is our email address.

jim jenkins says:
February 6th, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Orr Lyons had 60,000 spindles, and not 60,000 looms I worked at the plant several years, the to Wamsutta, and then to Olympia as Superintendent.

Cecil D. Buchanan says:
January 10th, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Born and raised at Orr Mill. Lived at 28 Harris Street, next to the park, swimming pool, milked and slopped our own cows and hogs. Played basketball over the company store, had black face shows over the company store. Had the best years of my life at Orr and my father, Uncle Charlie as he was known, was a supervisor in the card room. He died at age 98. I am his son, Cecil, my age now is 89, my wife Mildred had a stroke and her funeral was Jan. 2, 2017. My brothers were Clifton, Jack, Jesse D, Billy, Cecil, and Douglas. My mother was Lucy Mattie Craft.


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