The Woodside Mill renovation promises to bring new life to a West Greenville neighborhood as it weaves together the city’s history with its plans for a return to the community’s close-knit roots. The mill is being renovated into a 307-unit luxury apartment complex, with an anticipated completion date of early 2021.

At the recent groundbreaking ceremony, City Council member George Fletcher delivered remarks regarding the Woodside family’s impact in Greenville. He noted that the Woodside brothers also built the Poinsett Hotel, as well as several other Greenville landmarks which are no longer standing: Parker High School; the downtown Woodside Building; and eight other Upstate mills. 

Jim Woodside was also present at the groundbreaking. As the great-nephew of founder John T. Woodside, he represented the family. He told the audience that he is grateful to see this part of the Woodside legacy preserved.

“It really means a lot to me, to see [the mill] being preserved and not torn down,” he said. “The family’s been here since 1784. I’m the fifth generation in Greenville County. I’m proud that my family had a part in the development of the county.”

In 1927, the mill was the largest in the world with 110,000 spindles under one roof, according to Don Koonce, a local businessman and an authority on Greenville’s once-booming textile industry. Today, the mill still stands as the largest structure in the Woodside community, towering over the nearly 300 other buildings which were part of the mill village, according to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Inside the ground level of Woodside Mill, October 2019

From the steel trusses above to the original wood floors below, care has been taken to preserve the mill’s historical architecture where possible. Ken Betsch, the project’s lead architect from Betsch Associates Inc., said the firm is working closely with the state Historical Preservation Office, checking in even before removing paint from the walls. The mill’s former front-office building will now be the leasing office for the apartment complex. The former boiler room, the energy source at the heart of the mill, will be refitted as a gym and a conference space. Betsch even mentioned hopes for some of the other buildings on the property, like a former scrap warehouse, to be turned into a co-op grocery or a local brewery.

Lead architect Ken Betsch, left, and local historian, Don Koonce, right, on a walkthrough of the Woodside Mill property.

“Our design allows us to preserve a great deal of the original Woodside Mill and create a place to enjoy for another 100 years,” says Randy Moore, managing partner at Crossgate Partners, in a release given last week. At the groundbreaking, he added, “We want to be contributors and supporters of the arts. Most importantly, we want to do what we can to embrace art and music here at the property and we intend to work closely with local artists to allow for them a home to display their talents.”

Regarding the return to a hyper-local lifestyle, Betsch said, “In the mill villages, people had shared values, shared activities and shared experiences. I think everybody’s getting the message that what we had before wasn’t all that bad.”

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