Rock Hill Cotton Factory
300 Chatham Ave
Builder: Holler and Morse
The historic Rock Hill Cotton Factory was Rock Hill’s first cotton mill and one of the first in this section of South Carolina.
The erection of The Rock Hill Cotton Factory put the little town on the industrial map, not only demanding the attention of the outside world, but opening the eyes of its own people to the wonderful possibilities of industrial development.
Textile mills had existed in South Carolina since the early 1800s, such as the mill at Graniteville, the Saluda River factory near Columbia, and a mill at Great Falls. The new mills were envisioned on a much larger scale. One of the first was the Camperdown Mill (1875) in Greenville, which used the water power of the Reedy River. The idea of the new South and the potential for mills in the cotton fields appealed to leaders in Rock Hill. James M. Ivy, the leading cotton broker in Rock Hill, and Adolphus Eugene Hutchison, a local merchant and farmer, began to raise funds for a new mill in Rock Hill. Other investors included Andrew Hutchison White, Hutchison’s nephew and cotton farmer, William Lyle Roddey, leading Rock Hill merchant, William Barron Fewell, physician, John Rutherford London, merchant, and Allen Jones, a banker. These investors also secured funds from other stockholders from outside Rock Hill, including Hiram Hutchison, a wealthy banker and investor who was the largest stockholder in the Graniteville Mill. The Rock Hill Cotton Factory was incorporated in March 1880 with the issue of 1,000 shares of stock valued at $100 each.
Adolphus Hutchison was the largest shareholder and became President of the company. The group secured contractors A. D. Holler and R. H. Morse to build the structure. They traveled to Greenville and took measurements of the Camperdown Mill to use as a guide. Construction began in April 1880 on land purchased from the White family near downtown Rock Hill. The site had the advantage of being on the Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad and having good accessibility to local roads. The site is now at the corner of West White Street and Chatham Avenue. One disadvantage was the lack of water power at the site. This problem was solved by designing the mill to run on steam power, the first such mill in South Carolina.