In 1880, a group of Charleston men had a vision to build a cotton mill and a town for its employees. They picked a place on the Saluda River that had all the natural resources to bring this vision to life. When the Pelzer Manufacturing Company began to build the mill and its associated town, the name picked for the Wilson’s Ferry location was Pelzer, South Carolina. Named for Francis J. Pelzer, within five years it grew to a town of five thousand people and three cotton mills. The Town of Pelzer and the cotton mills flourished under the leadership of Ellison Adger Smyth and by 1895 grew to four cotton mills and close to eight thousand residents.
The town drew people to Pelzer to enjoy the cultural advantages the Mill owners provided. Pelzer residents enjoyed churches, a library, some of the best education facilities in the state, a skating rink, a movie theater, a swimming pool, a park with a zoo, a ballpark, two hotels, plenty of stores to shop and medical care. The Mill Company provided all of these benefits with no outside assistance. Pelzer, known for its Fourth of July celebrations, drew thousands of visitors for a day of racing, ballgames, musical performances, military drills, and veteran appreciation dinners. Special trains brought guests to town for Pelzer was the place to be with plenty of events to share.
In 2010 a group of people, who were born and raised in Pelzer, formed the Pelzer Heritage Commission. Their vision was to save and preserve the rich heritage of the town. With few assets, but with plenty of Pelzer Pride, this group set about to revive the old Pelzer Spirit and its special memories. Two reunions held at the historical Pelzer gym brought scattered residents back to town. Two festivals held in the old Monkey Park displayed local crafts and merchants. Events at the school auditorium brought back memories of plays and musicals enjoyed by grandparents. Two books published preserve Town memories and honor our veterans’ service records.
These events were the beginning of bringing a 21st century vision to life. Pelzer heritage runs deep based on the Mills and Town. Over the years, the Town lost its competitive edge and much of its beloved property. Discussions with the current owner of the mill property, Tom Green, led to the idea of the Commission accepting a donation of the Mill Property. After many months of talks, the Green Family donated the Pelzer Mill Property on December 27, 2013. The Pelzer Heritage Commission formed the Pelzer Mills Property, LLC to manage the development and care of this newly donated property.
The Pelzer Mills Property, LLC realizes the hard work, cooperation, and dedication needed to revitalize our Town. Without the mill property donation, the Commission could do little to help residents and bring visitors back to our wonderful Town. We encourage folks to talk with The Pelzer Mills Property, LLC about how to plan and build for the future. Pelzer Mills Property, LLC members are Larry Joe Coker (864-770-5385), Dianne Lollis (864-378-6807), Calvin Waters (864-847-7322), Linda Lee-Lozano, Todd Creamer, Gilbert Garrett (864-353-8679), Wayne Fowler, and Elaine Hunt.
Town Meetings are planned to help local residents know what is being done, what is planned, and give them a place to share their ideas. Working together with town residents and local businesses, The Pelzer Mills Property, LLC plans to develop and secure a bold new vision for our town.