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Past, Present and Future: Spartanburg County Mills & Economic Development

Renovated textile mills getting new life countywide

Published Tuesday, December 10, 2019 2:00 pm

Textile mills – symbols of 20th-century economic expansion that created jobs and led to communities of families sprouting. In Spartanburg County, textile mills created a way of life for generations of families.

Dotted around the county, these expansive, often-brick buildings directly connect the past, present and future of economic development in Spartanburg.

Anderson Mill

Perhaps the most unique mill revitalization project in all of Spartanburg County is underway at Anderson Mill.

The former gristmill is the oldest standing mill in South Carolina, and hosted the very first meeting of Spartanburg County’s government in 1785.

Now, in 2019, the Tyger River Foundation is working to bring the mill back to life as a functioning mill. The $2 million project – which has been planned since 2005 – would restore the mill’s machinery to offer visitors a glimpse into how the 18th century mill once operated.

Once complete, Anderson Mill will be available for public tours, and will likely grind corn yet again at least a few times a year.

Arcadia Mill No. 1 and No. 2

In the Arcadia area of Spartanburg sat Arcadia Mill No. 1 and No. 2. The first mill was built by a Spartanburg pharmacist, and the second cotton mill was added 21 years later.

The Arcadia Mills were renovated with $8 million in economic investment, bringing 92 loft apartments to the old mill. Unlike other mill projects, though, the Arcadia Mills projects brought art to the forefront.

The Chapman Cultural Center partnered on the redevelopment effort, and now, the mill is home to Mayfair Art Studios, complete with 20,000 square feet of soon-to-be-available space with 11 studios for yearly lease, and hourly rentals for ceramics, fiber arts, metal and glass, music studios, dance/movement studios, and exhibition spaces.

Drayton Mills

Dating back to 1902, Drayton Mills was home to a full mill complex – spinning mill, cotton warehouse, two-story weaving building, water towers, and a company store.

The first phase of Drayton’s $35 million rejuvenation – Drayton Mills Lofts – was finished in 2015, with 289 luxury lofts and more. The second step – the 60,000-square-foot Drayton Mills Marketplace – is now home to 15 tenants including Holliday Brewing, Rick Erwin’s The Standard, Pi-Squared Pizza and more.

Eighteen Hundred Drayton Catering & Events, with 34,800 square feet of indoor and outdoor event and catering space, opened in 2019, bringing new business in the form of wedding receptions, corporate parties and other special events.

The next step of Drayton’s new life will further the area’s economic revitalization. Family housing will come to the area in the form of 118 townhomes, capitalizing on the brand-new Drayton Mills Elementary School.

Star Mill

Star Mill sits on Spartanburg’s Northside – a community undergoing systematic change thanks to the Northside Redevelopment Group and a host of community organizations.

The future of Star Mill is in the hands of BF Spartanburg – the same group behind the multi-million-dollar revitalization of The Montgomery Building in Downtown Spartanburg. The plan calls for up to $2 million in work to bring a new development to the space, which formerly housed a hosiery factory.

Converse Mill

The National Register of Historic Places shows the mill was originally built in 1896 as Clifton Mill No. 3, and run by Dexter Edgar Converse, a legendary figure in the history of Spartanburg. A major flood destroyed the mill in 1903, but it was later rebuilt.

Fast-forward, Converse Mill is now home to The Lofts at Converse Mill, which were undergoing the final stages of construction in late-2019. The renovation effort, totaling $8 million, will lead to 172 upscale apartments.

The historic mill sits along U.S. Highway 29 near the Pacolet River, convenient access to one of Spartanburg’s blueways for the mill’s future residents.

Inman Mills

The Lofts at Inman Mill are the result of a nearly $30 million investment, bringing new life to the mill complex originally built in 1902 by Spartanburg County businessman James A. Chapman.

There are now 159 apartments spread over four floors inside the large brick space.

The mill’s long history is captured inside the new apartments, complete with the exposed floors and high ceilings that are a staple of mill-turned-loft apartments.

Beaumont Mill

Along North Pine Street, 125-year-old Beaumont Mill now houses office space occupied by Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and Southern Conference officials.

Spartanburg Regional moved about a dozen administrative offices – totaling some 400+ nonclinical employees – to the renovated mill.

The $34 million project is surrounded by the 317-property Beaumont Mill Village, which is still a thriving, full neighborhood today. The mill village was named a local historic district, earning it historical protections, in 2010.

Apalache Mill

Just a few minutes north of Downtown Greer, the former Apalache Mill is now home to The Lofts by the Lake, featuring 97 upscale apartments.

Old photos of the mill guided its renovation, meaning the red brick originally erected in 1888 remained at-large. Pine beams, columns, and ceilings finished off the $24-million project.

Although textile mills are no longer the community centerpieces they once were, economic development efforts to revive the long-shuttered spaces have taken hold across Spartanburg. Spartanburg’s rich manufacturing presence moved past textile mills long ago, but Spartanburg’s economic development hasn’t forgotten the county’s many mills.

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