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History of The Cotton Factory

The beautiful building that houses New South Interiors had its beginnings in 1881 as the first steam-powered textile mill in South Carolina. After the Civil War, local entrepreneurs recognized the potential for industry amongst the economic devastation that years of war and reconstruction had brought to the piedmont area of the Carolinas. What the surrounding counties near Rock Hill had were fields of cotton. What they lacked was the ability to convert raw cotton into fabric through local mass production. Investors within the nascent Rock Hill business community recruited A.D. Holler to build a factory patterned after the Camperdown Mill on the Reedy River in Greenville, SC. Steam powered by coal boilers initially, the Cotton Factory moved to electric power once the hydroelectric dams were developed along the Catawba River during the early part of the 20th century. The population of Rock Hill grew as well from 800 people in 1880 to over 5,500 by 1895.

Cotton production in the region reached its peak in the early 1920s, but the arrival of the boll weevil and a lack of proper crop rotation contributed to the decline of cotton in the Carolina Piedmont. The local textile industry fell on hard times as well throughout the next couple of decades, but rebounded following World War II. Throughout the 20th century, the Cotton Factory went through several owners, including Carhartt Inc., Belvedere Mills, Crescent Cotton Mill, Cutter Manufacturing Co., Goldtex Mills, and Edward Mills. Globalization in the latter part of the century eventually ended the textile industry's reign as the largest employer in Rock Hill.

Mill operations ceased in 1967 and in its later years the space operated as Plej's Textile Mill Outlet until it closed in 2001. Dilapidated after years of little investment in building improvement, the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. purchased the building. In 2006, it sold the building to an investment group headed by Bryan Barwick, Gary Williams, and Bob Perrin who spent over $14 million renovating the 100,000 square foot building into mixed retail/business offices. This year, The Cotton Factory received the South Carolina Historic Preservation Honor Award in recognition of the extensive restoration and interpretation of the building's architectural heritage.

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