This area of Greenville includes the former Huguenot Mill (182), Greenville Coach factory (1850s), and Markely Hardware Store and Carriage Factory (1915). The Greenville Coach Factory was once the largest carriage producing factory below the Potomac. During the height of it's years in production it was estimated that the factory held up to a hundred workers. However, due to the rise of the automobile industry in the 1890s, the demand for carriages plummeted and in the year 1911 the owner sold the factory after seventy six years in business. In 1925 the factory was reopened for production after it was bought by Mrs. Eugenia Duke, who shifted production from carriages to Duke's Mayonnaise. In 1929, the building was sold to C.F. Saver but still operated under the name of Duke. After 29 years operating in the Greenville factory, the company moved production to a much larger building off Laurens Road built in 1955 leaving the original factory vacant by the year 1958. Today, the area has been converted into a historic district that demonstrates the city's transition to industry at the turn of the century.
Reedy River Industrial Complex
its history as a country is very limited, the United States had been known as
one of the most industrious countries on the planet. In just a few centuries.
It has emerged as an industrial power on the World Stage as a result of the
ambition and hopes of its countrymen to outweigh their competitors both on a
national level and on the world stage. One representation of America’s early
industrious beginnings includes the Reedy River complex situated on the river
banks of the Reedy rover in Greenville, South Carolina. While this old
abandoned building may now serve as merely a remnant of a time now past, this
very factory served multiple purposes during its’ time among the town of
Greenville. To be specific, the complex was once the base of the largest
carriage production in the United States, a feat that would be followed in 1925
when it was bought out by a new owner who changed its’ products from carriages
to mayonnaise. Even despite not being used as a base for industry, the complex
itself is now still helping to bring more people to the town of Greenville
because of its use as a cultural center for the city that boasts a theatre and
a restaurant that hosts concerts, parties and festivals.
the complex is the main focus, it should be taken into account the community
that brought it into existence. Prior to the arrival of the European settlers
within the territories of what was to become South Carolina, these lands
originally belonged to the Cherokee Native Americans. Living in towns that were
autonomous, the natives divided each other into two groups-the Ayrate (Claw)
and the Ottare (Mountainous) peoples. By the late seventeenth century, these
autonomous communities became part of a confederacy under the leadership of an
individual known as the “First and Beloved Men.” Although each town contained
six thousand warriors that was equivalent to the seven thousand combined white
and African American population already in South Carolina. In the year 1738 a
small pox epidemic suddenly broke out that quickly reduced the native
population to half that original number to 2,750 fighting men out of a total
population of 13,500. While there was interaction between the natives and the
Spanish colonists throughout the sixteenth century, it was the expeditions of
the British that were to change their destinies. The British had already been
established as a colony in the territories close by the Cherokee natives whom
they often traded with at least among the natives whom they often traded with
at least among the natives of the lower caste villages for over fifteen years.
However throughout the years, the British tried unsuccessfully to obtain
Cherokee lands until February 12th, 1747 when an Indian agent George
Prowley and native leaders from the lower towns signed a deed which opened
Cherokee hunting lands for settlement which was paid for in ammunition. “The
Immediate effect of this cession was to open land along the Indian path…it
marked the first time that Greenville land was mentioned in negotiations
between a British providence and the Cherokees”
For almost eighteen
years following the signing of the deed between the natives and George Prawley,
there was a decent amount of cooperation between the natives and the English
settlers but in September of 1765 the issue of settlers’ boundaries was again
raised. During the course of events that took place Governor Thomas Boone
brought into question that the South Carolina boundary should be determined
through cooperation with the Cherokee leaders and on October 19th of
that year, the chiefs ceded to the British all land south of Dewitt’s Corner
using the Reedy River as a boundary mark between North Carolina and South
Carolina. On June 2nd, 1766 Governor Boone established the boundary
line and proclaimed it “strictly enjoy[ing] and require[ing] all persons
whether who have either willfully or inadvertently seated themselves upon any
lands in this providence…reserved to the Indians to remove themselves from such settlement.”
Following the establishment of the boundary line for North and South Carolina.
Throughout the course of the 1760s settlers began to settle in the area that
would eventually become Greenville, the first being Richard Pearis. Because he
was married to a Cherokee woman, he was given several tracts of land by the
Cherokee natives. Yet it was also during this period that settlers began to
move into the back country of the Catawba lands only to later return after only
a short period of time away. Following the return of settlers to the Catawba
lands, many groups of people including the residents of Cherokee Spartanburg
and York counties, claimed to have grants from both North and South Carolina.
North Carolina wanted the boundary to run from the Catawba Nation West to the
Reedy River but South Carolina challenged its claim. This debate eventually
went to the Board of Trade in London.
Following the return of settlers to the Catawba lands,
many groups of people including the residents of Cherokee Spartanburg and York
counties, claimed to have grants from both North Carolina and South Carolina.
North Carolina wanted the boundary to run from the Catawba Nation West to the
Reedy River, but South Carolina challenged its claim. This Debate eventually
went to the Board of Trade in London. Following this meeting of the board that
the Privy Council were recommended to send a few commissioners from the two
providences to survey the land whom then drew up the present boundary between
the southwest of Charlotte to the eastern boundary of Greenville county as the
old Indian boundary line north of the Reedy River was laid off as Greenville
now lay in South Carolina in what became known as the Treaty of Dewitt’s
Corner. During the course of the 19th Century, Greenville began to
grow as a community. However, it was not until the last two decades of the
antebellum period 1840-1860 that
Greenville began to flourish, specifically, with the coming of the railroads;
as well as its’ reputation as a center for higher education. In addition to these
traits the town became known for its growth in industry, one of which that
became known for its growth in industry, one of which that became the most
prominent was the Gower and Cox Wagon and Carriage Factory that was situated on
the Reedy River.
Founded by partners Ebenezer Gower and Thomas Cox, their
business which specialized in the manufacture and production of functioning
carriages soon became one of the most successful companies in the town of
Greenville. By 1851, the company added on to its repertoire with a dry goods
store as well as a partnership with HC Markely in 1853 which further expanded
its operations. By 1856, the Greenville Coach Factory below the Potomac that
had sold carriages worth up to eighty thousand dollars. Furthermore, by the
last decades of the nineteenth century, production in this complex, had out
sourced all other production carriages became a need for citizens throughout
the region even during the course of the Civil War that happened in the 1860s.
The factory continued to manufacture carriages well into the initial years of
the 20th Century under the name of the Markley’s Carriage Factory
after partner H.C.Markley who joined in 1853. However, by the year 1911, the
automobile industry had begun to overtake the demand in the transportation
industry and therefore the new owner Mr. Markley sold the company after seventy
six years in business. Following the downfall of the carriage production
industry, by the year 1925 the factory was reopened this time with the
production of mayonnaise as Mrs. Eugenia Duke bought out the company with the success
of her recipe for mayonnaise two years prior.
The product of Mrs.
Duke’s mayonnaise soon became a beloved New South brand that was sold in
grocery stores throughout the south. By the year 1929 however, Duke sold the
factory to C.F. Sauer of Richmond, Virginia but while he now held ownership, he
continued to operate the company under the name of “Duke.” It was during this
time that grocery store promotions featured several sales pitches to help sell
Dukes product such as impressive pyramids of Duke’s Mayonnaise in grocery
stores, clean cut attractive middle class white salesmen and women posing with
bottles of Duke’s mayonnaise. The campaigns to get the product sold emphasized
taste, convenience, efficiently and more importantly “purity” as it tried to
appeal to the white population particularly stay-at-home mothers. “Labeling a
food product with a southern touchstone of the white Confederate past was a
savvy move for market-conscious manufacturers and advertisers who recognized
the monetary value of good story.” When all was said and done, the product of
Duke’s mayonnaise was as much a social product as it was a popular condiment.
After 29 years of operating in the complex on the Reedy River, the company
opted to move production to a much larger facility off Lauren’s Road in 1955
and by 1958 the entire Reedy River complex had been abandoned.
Following the end of
its run in heavy industry, the Reedy River Complex remained vacant until 1979
when the US Department of the Interior nominated to designate the complex on
the National Register of Historic Places. Today, now called the Wyche Pavilion,
the remains of the complex now serve as a restaurant called the “Founder’s
Room,” as well as a place to hold special events including weddings, festivals,
parties and outdoor concerts. In addition to special events, the pavilion is a
place of the arts as a member of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in
which the Shirley Roe Cabaret Theatre hosts performances. While the complex may
not still be useful in terms of its use in industry, it continues to remain as
an important piece of the community of Greenville that not only brings its’
residents together but also reminds them of their community’s past and the
developments which were made throughout the ages.
The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont, Archie Vernon Huff, pg.8.
The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont, Archie Vernon Huff, pg. 10.
Editable South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region, Marcie Cohen Ferris, pg.195.