"M" is for Mill Villages

Apr 20, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

"M" is for Mill Villages. The establishment of the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s mill on the Saluda River in Anderson County in the early 1880s marked the beginning of the Piedmont mill village boom. Early textile entrepreneurs built not only factories, but also frequently entire villages such as Piedmont in Greenville County, Clifton and Pacolet in Spartanburg County, and Langley in Aiken County. The villages were self-contained communities with neighborhood stores, parks, schools, churches, and mill league baseball and basketball. Mill villages began to decline in the 1920s. The automobile became more affordable, making it easier for workers to commute. And, many companies began to selloff their housing. When mill villages were at their peak in the early 1900s, it has been estimated that as much as one-sixth of South Carolina’s white population lived and worked in them.