Upcountry History: Slater Mill and the village of Slater

Slater, South Carolina (James Richardson) Slater, South Carolina (James Richardson)

SLATER, S.C. — The family of textile mill pioneer Samuel Slater built Slater Mill (pictured right) in northern Greenville County in 1927. Originally designed to make rayon-filled Alpacas, two buildings were constructed, with a finishing unit planned for a later date.

The Mill Village:

The working community originally lived in 140 houses, many of which are pictured on the left side of the above picture. The mill village became the foundation for the Slater-Marietta area, which had before been used primarily as farm land.

Slater Hall (pictured in center) was built in 1934, donated to the village by H. Nelson Slater to serve as a church, school, community meeting place, and recreational facility. Currently, the building and grounds are owned by Greenville County Rec., who continues to operate it as a community center.

In 1946, the mill — which had by then grown to 185,000 square feet and housed over 1,200 looms — became part of J.P. Stevens & Company. Growth at the plant continued through the years, with investments and changes of ownership bringing new improvements and advancements along the way. By 1990, the plant had grown into a 400,000-squre-foot complex.

Today, the facility is operated by JPS Composite Materials, a leading manufacturer of high strength fiberglass and synthetic fabrics.

Slater in Space: 

Fabric developed in the 1960s at J.P. Stevens' Slater Plant was used as the primary component in the space suits worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the first moon landing. The facility was also involved in supplying quartz fabric and thread for the fabrication of insulation blankets used on the Space Shuttle.

The Iconic Smokestack:

The iconic, brick smokestack on the plant bears the name "SLATER" and the date "1790." It was built in 1943, replacing the mill's original stack. The 1790 date represents when Samuel Slater developed the first successful cotton factory in America. The plant was located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and serves as the original link from the beginning of the textile industry to Slater, South Carolina.

On the Web: Slater Hall Citizens' Committee | Greenville County Rec - Slater Hall

(Source - Slater: A Proud Textile Community in SC and the Most Famous Name in American Textile History (JPS November, 1994))