of National Historic Landmark Designation
Piedmont, Greenville County, South Carolina
The Piedmont Manufacturing Company, established
by Henry Pinckney Hammett, helped spur the growth of the Southern
textile industry after the Civil War. Hammett's company served
as a model and inspiration for other entrepreneurs and investors,
and led to the rapid development of Southern textile manufacturing
in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
Manufacturing Company; Piedmont Number One is at the center.
National Historic Landmarks photograph.
Henry Hammett had his
start in the cotton industry as a bookkeeper for the Batesville
Cotton Mill, a factory established by William Bates. Bates, drawing
on his experience in the Slater cotton factory in Rhode Island
and several small South Carolina mills, had the Batesville mill
built around 1830. Hammett married Bates' daughter in 1848, and
was made a partner in William Bates and Company in 1849. Hammett's
responsibilities included purchasing raw cotton and marketing
the finished textiles. In 1862, the company sold the Batesville
mill to a group of Charleston businessmen. In this same year,
the project to begin a cotton mill at Garrison Shoals on the Saluda
River began when Hammett and William Bates purchased 255 along
the river, including a waterfall. In 1863 they purchased 190 adjoining
acres, but the project languished because of the Civil War and
Bates' death in 1872.
On April 30, 1873, Hammett organized
and began serving as president of the Piedmont Manufacturing
Company. Hammett's company initially had $75,000 of subscribed
capital; by February 13, 1874, when the company was chartered
by the state of South Carolina, its subscriptions had increased
to $200,000. Construction began at Garrison Shoals, but the
work was soon halted as subscribers withdrew from the project,
seemingly in reaction to lingering financial effects of the
Panic of 1873.
Hammett persevered, however, and work
resumed on the factory by 1875. The loss of capital led him
to emphasis frugality in the construction. He cut costs by having
his own brick made and timber cut; in order to purchase the
necessary machinery, he induced the Whitin Machine Works of
Massachusetts to accept partial payment in the form of Piedmont
stock. Piedmont Number One was a four-story brick factory on
a an L-shaped floor plan. It was put into operation in 1876
with a water wheel providing power for 5000 spindles and 112
looms. In 1888, Hammett had another factory, Piedmont Number
Two, built on the west bank of the Saluda River. Piedmont Number
One was enlarged in 1880 and again in 1900.
Hammett constructed his factory where
the water power was located; this was not, however, an area
of dense population. Necessarily, therefore, his enterprise
entailed the creation of a town to house his employees. Also
named Piedmont, the company town included houses for employees,
schools, churches, and other buildings. No philanthropic motive
should necessarily be ascribed to the creation of such a mill
village, however; as Hammett himself remarked, in an address
before the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Society
"the main object
in building a mill by those who put their money into it, is
the prospective profits upon the investments; there may be the
laudable desire to give employment to the people and benefit
the community - the latter is always incidental and secondary,
if at all."
company-owned mill villages also allowed mill owners to exercise
a paternalistic control over their employees. This ensured the
profitability of their enterprise and deflected criticism from
their factories and villages. Industrial enclaves such as these
were looked on with suspicion or distaste by some Southerners,
who feared the establishment of mill towns such as those in the
Northern states. Southern mill owners were able to establish an
image of industrious, law-abiding, and racially homogenous mill
workers through the exertion of strict controls over their employees.
This control was also useful in combating the organization of
employees into unions; Hammett vigorously opposed any attempts
to organize workers in the Southern textile industry.
The Piedmont Manufacturing Company was
very successful; when Hammett died in 1891, Piedmont was one
of the largest textile mills in the world. The prosperity of
the company continued after Hammett's death. Purchased in 1946
by A.J. Stevens and Company, Piedmont Number One underwent some
changes but retained much of its original appearance. In its
later years, most of the factory windows were blocked for air
conditioning and the building was surrounded by a number of
structures added after Hammett's death. With the sale of the
village houses and stores to private owners in the 1950s, Piedmont
was no longer a company-owned town and by 1977, Piedmont Number
One was no longer used for textile manufacturing.
Piedmont Number One was designated a
National Historic Landmark on June 2, 1978, in recognition of
the importance of Henry Pinckney Hammett and his company to
the postbellum Southern textile industry. The success of Hammett's
company has been cited as the impetus for the rapid proliferation
of Southern cotton mills in the 1880s. Piedmont Number Two,
although extant at that time, was not included in the designation
because it had been substantially altered since Hammett's day.
Number One burns in 1983.
National Historic Landmarks photograph.
A fire in October 1983 destroyed much
of Piedmont Number One; the ruins of the building were subsequently
dismantled. The total destruction of Piedmont Number One led
to the withdrawal of its Landmark designation on March 5, 1986;
it was also removed from the National Register of Historic Places.