Greenville County Factory Restoration Project Receives $1.6 Million in State Funding | Greenville News
Plans to restore a centuries-old flour mill at Fountain Inn and make it the centerpiece of a nine-acre park are progressing after the project secured $1.6 million in funding in the state budget.
The funding will be used to dismantle, refurbish and rebuild Jones Mill, a structure built in the mid-1800s that has continued to operate for over 100 years. For decades, the structure along Jones Mill Road just north of Fountain Inn in southern Greenville County sat unused, gradually decaying.
In early 2021, the Garrett family, who previously owned the land the building sits on, donated it to the Fountain Inn Museum who formed the Jones Mill Restoration Committee to save the deteriorating building. Since then, the group of just over half a dozen people, helped by community volunteers, has been busy clearing the site around the mill, assessing the condition of the structure and raising funds for carry out the project.
Committee chairman Buddy Gray said the state budget allocation would fully fund the restoration project, as well as a park around the building.
A preliminary park layout by Greenville-based Arbor Engineering includes a gazebo next to Durbin Creek, an outdoor classroom, picnic area, forest trails, gazebo, restrooms and plazas paved parking lot.
Gray said that given the property’s proximity to local schools, including the recently opened Fountain Inn High School, the restored mill and park could serve as an excursion destination, as well as an amenity for the community. in general.
“There are at least five schools very close to there,” he said. “So we think it will be used a lot.”
Rick Owens, a senior project manager at Clemson University and an expert in historic preservation, offered his help on the project, and Clemson engineers assessed the structure. They determined that the best solution would be to dismantle the building, renovate the rooms individually, and then rebuild it.
The Fountain Inn Museum will likely receive the funding in the fall, when Gray said demolition work on the building will begin.
Gray expects the process of rebuilding the structure to begin as early as next spring. As the factory rebuilds, the sheet metal cladding that has been added to the structure over the past decades will be replaced with local timber that is more faithful to the story.
The committee is still working to determine whether it will refurbish the existing wheel that once powered the flour mill or purchase a new one. Gray said the group is also exploring the possibility of turning the disused millstones, which are still in the building, into water features.
Early in the planning phase of the project, the restoration committee envisioned a fully functional mill. Gray said the process is ongoing and the group has learned more about the logistics and regulations that come with operating a working plant. This initial objective now appears less realistic, even if some still hope to pursue it.
Follow Conor Hughes on Twitter at @ConorJHughes.