Created By: Brandon Inabinet
Less than three miles southwest of downtown Greenville, at 30 Emery Street, stands a monstrous rustic frame of what was once a booming cotton mill known as the Dunean Mill. In its heyday the Dunean Mill housed over 50,000 spindles, employed hundreds, and included four hundred and fifty homes. The Mill was opened in 1911 but began operating at full power a year later; however, the mill's peak wasn’t until the 1920s, when I was given the nickname “the million dollar mill.” The mill became a centerpiece of southwest area of Greenville, and would only grow as the years went on.
Throughout the 1920’s the mill thrived as a community-centered establishment. Like so many others, the elementary school, baseball team, grocery store, and three churches stood onsite. According to Greenville Today, the site even had cars available for rent if somebody needed to go into downtown.
However, the utopia that Dunean Mill had become in the 20s would not last. The Greenville News of 2017 explains that in 1946 JP Stevens Company would purchase Dunean along with Piedmont and Slater Mill. As the ownership shifted hands so did the morale and impression of the Dunean community. The new owners' biggest change was that to the housing situation, they began selling the homes instead of simply giving them to the workers. This put an incredible strain on the employees: although they gained the title of home owner, they also gained the stress of owning a home.
The homes aged without central maintenance for these low-paid workers and, as Greenville Today says, the suburbanization ruined its future. Workers simply drove in, walking declined, and the area became unsightly. In the 60s, with businesses all becoming independelty owned and operated, Dunean became more an eyesore.
Still the mill never fully "went away" until 2005, as a few employees worked in the space up to that point.
The churches are still present, as is the massive water tower with the words “Dunean Plant” written across the front. Although the inside is gated off to the public, you can still wander the perimeter and peak through the gates.
Beth Roddy and Marshall Williams, who lived in Dunean their entire lives at the site, didn’t want to see their neighborhood forgotten about. So instead they’ve created a museum, annual Christmas tree lighting, and preserved what was left of the once great Dunean Mill.
Staff. "The Dunean Mill Village." Upstate Business Journal. Last modified November 17, 2014. Accessed March 23, 2019.
Kendall. "#TBT: the Dunean area." Greenville Today. Last modified March 29, 2018. Accessed March 22, 2019.
"In 1946, mills merge with JP Stevens." Greenville News. Last modified May 11, 2017. Accessed March 22, 2019.
Bainbridge, Judith. "Dunean Mill manufactured fine grade of goods." Greenville News. Last modified November 7, 2017. Accessed March 22, 2019.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Milling Around Greenville, South Carolina