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Gospel music, mill village artifacts, basketball and more on tap at Discover Piedmont Day this Saturday, March 7

Crafts, mill village artifacts, 3 on 3 basketball and gospel singing are all on tap for Discover Piedmont Day 2020 this Saturday, March 7, in the town of Piedmont SC.

From 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Piedmont Community Building, visitors can learn about this place once known to Native Americans as “Big Shoals of the Saluda” and later as a mighty textile town that was the home of Piedmont Manufacturing Company.

“Piedmont Manufacturing Company was the largest mill in the United States prior to 1900 and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978 because of its importance to mill history in the South,” said Dr. Anne Peden, a member of the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission and the Piedmont Historical Preservation Society. “That designation is on the level of the White House. It’s a big deal.”

A retired educator and a resident of nearby Moonville, Peden is leading the push to make Piedmont a big deal once again.

Recent announcements by local Realtors and developers, and the formation of the Piedmont Historical Preservation Society are working to restore the vibrancy of this once bustling textile community on both sides of the Saluda River in northern Anderson and southwestern Greenville counties. Discover Piedmont Day is one way of helping to preserve Piedmont’s historic past and promote its economic benefits for the future, Peden said.

Piedmont residents will share their village on Saturday through a variety of activities in the Piedmont Community Building at 3 Main Street. The Don Roper Textile Mill Museum housed in the community center will be open all day. The Rowell Club Room will feature 22 craft vendors, and a 3 on 3 basketball tournament will be played in the building’s large gymnasium.

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Breakfast will be available for purchase from Black Sheep Café & Catering. Lunchtime will feature $5 hot dog plates and food trucks will arrive at 2 p.m.

Mid-afternoon, basketball will give way to gospel singing in the gym with a lineup that features singer/songwriters Catlin Tierce and Charlie Griffin, New Day Trio, The Faithful Four, and headliner The Chordsmen Quartet.

About Piedmont SC

Originally known as Garrison Shoals, Piedmont was once famous for its fishing and for a ford so useful that Native Americans called it “Big Shoals of the Saluda.” It was the site of a Tory fort during the American Revolutionary War and it was the infamous scene of the ambush and murder of the first sheriff of Washington District (Greenville, Anderson, Pickens and Oconee) in 1797.

A grist mill was the first mill to operate there, then in 1876, H.P. Hammett opened a cotton mill and named it Piedmont Manufacturing Company. That’s when the town became known as Piedmont.

There were once four textile mills operating in Piedmont, three on the Greenville side of the river and one on the Anderson side. A decline in U.S. textile production in the early to mid-80s caused the consolidation of many Upstate mills and the closing of many more. JP Stevens & Co., which had purchased Piedmont Manufacturing Co. in 1946, suspended operation of the Piedmont mills. And in 1983, less than five years after being named a National Historic Landmark, the vacant mill along the Saluda was destroyed by fire. Only its smokestack remains.

And at the edge of Main Street on the Greenville side of the Saluda is the mill’s old company store which has been purchased for redevelopment by Greenville-based KDS Properties. Plans call for a complete restoration of the 25,000-square-foot building to house retail, a restaurant, coffee shop and artist studios galleries on the ground floor, and eight apartments on the upper floor.

Late last year, Coldwell Banker Caine in Greenville announced that it would be managing sales and marketing for Piedmont Village, a new community by Greenville-based Red Oak Developers. The development is to feature 60 townhomes and single-family residences, 25,000 square feet of commercial space that includes a brewery, restaurants and retail, and a trail system with public river access and kayak landing, according to the Coldwell Banker Caine website. Development is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of this year.

Piedmont is located 20 minutes south of downtown Greenville on Highway 86 along the banks of the Saluda River. Learn more by visiting Piedmont Historical Preservation Society online.

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