Last updated: 4/14/2018
107 Clebourne Street
Fort Mill, SC 29715
107 Clebourne Street
Fort Mill, SC 29715
|Wednesday - Saturday||10 AM - 4 PM|
Leanne Burnett Morse, Executive Director
To preserve Fort Mill's heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.
Samuel Elliott White Gallery
The Samuel Elliott White Gallery houses the museum’s permanent exhibit, "Fort Mill History Through Artist’s Eyes." Samuel Elliott White was patriarch of a large family that would positively impact Fort Mill for generations. He was born at the White Homestead in 1837 and attended the Citadel in Charleston before signing up to fight for the Confederacy. Upon his return to Fort Mill, he turned his attention to several successful business ventures, including cotton production and banking, but it was his creation of Fort Mill Manufacturing Company in 1887 that would change the fortunes of an entire town.
His son-in-law, Leroy Springs, and his grandson, Elliott White Springs, would take what he started and turn the company into a worldwide brand leader. The precursor to Springs Industries and the Springmaid brand, the new mill brought employment to thousands and a ready buyer to cotton farmers in the region. Captain White, as he was known after his Civil War service, was responsible for planning and financing the development of Confederate Park and the monuments there. White died in 1911 and is buried at Unity Cemetery.
William Bradford Hall
William R. Bradford Jr. was publisher and editor of the Fort Mill Times from 1943 until 1979 and he was widely regarded as the town’s unofficial historian. Through extensive newspaper clippings, photos, magazines, and print artifacts the history of the town is revealed. An original print-proof press, which includes an inking table, and roller and hammer, along with Mr. Bradford’s historic L.C. Smith and Brothers typewriter,can be found in the artifact collection. Mr. Bradford was educated in the Fort Mill Schools and at Davidson College where he is a member of the Class of 1937, and served as Class Secretary for many years. He was editor and publisher of the Fort Mill Times for 36 years prior to his retirement. Under his leadership, The Times won several General Excellence awards given by the South Carolina Press Association citing the paper as the best weekly in the state, and he personally won numerous writing awards. Many of these were for his weekly “No Foolin’” column which was so popular that excerpts often appeared in The Charlotte Observer and other papers.
To promote the collection, preservation, educational interpretation, and display of those artifacts, documents, and events most representative of Fort Mill, South Carolina its pre-history and history, its people and institutions, and its cultural and economic development.
As we looked back in time to events that helped make this community what it is today, we found it was not just historic events that brought us to the present day but a combination of events, people from all walks of life, special places, and childhood memories. The stories we hear that make up the fabric of our community are so interesting. They must be collected, preserved, and shared with all who are here today and those who will come this way tomorrow.
The beautiful works of art you will see in the Samuel E. White Gallery are creations of very talented local artists. They give you a glimpse of what Fort Mill was like from the 1600s to today. As the museum grows, the timeline will grow. Important dates and events that occurred throughout the history of this community will be added. Oral histories will also become a part of the timeline and throughout the museum.
The Fort Mill History Museum is more than what is contained in one building. We serve the community through a variety of outreach programs throughout the year with something for all ages. These are a few of our current programs:
- Fort Mill History Days: This annual two-day event takes place in Walter Y. Elisha Park with a mission of educating the community about Fort Mill’s rich and important history. Thousands attend for a trip through a living timeline of the town’s history including the early Native American inhabitants, the Catawba, and on through the colonial period with a showcase of the area’s Revolutionary War era. The Civil War period follows before the rise of the textile industry in Fort Mill and the two great World Wars that reached across oceans to touch a little town in South Carolina. Through re-enactments, hands-on drills, unique exhibits, and demonstrations by talented craftsmen, visitors get a taste of what life was like in times gone by.
- School Day: This is special day of Fort Mill History Days set aside for students from our district schools. More than 700 students attend on this day to take part in demonstrations and exhibitions that bring the history in their textbooks vividly to life.
- This is My Town—the History Trunk Project: This program is unique to the FMHM and was developed by a team of educators in conjunction with representatives from the South Carolina Department of Education utilizing curriculum standards for second and third graders. Our first traveling trunk featured the history of the Catawba tribe and the timeline of the town. More than 600 students had an up-close look at these artifacts right in their own schools. A second traveling exhibit is in development to coordinate with the eighth grade curriculum in our middle schools.
- Timeline Tours: Second graders walk in the footsteps of town pioneers with visits to the Anne Springs Close Greenway and downtown Fort Mill historic sites ending with a visit to the museum for a peek into the history trunks.
John & Mary Sanders Research Library
The library houses a collection of research volumes on various topics as well as original documents and photographs of people and events from Fort Mill’s history. The library and its computer are also available to visitors for genealogical research via Ancestry.com. Schedule an appointment with a research assistant by calling the museum during regular operating hours.
Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members
Appointment required: No
J. B. Mills Gift Shop
The J. B. Mills Gift Shop offers unique items with ties to Fort Mill and South Carolina including books, custom home decor and Christmas ornaments, and apparel items made from vintage Springmaid fabric.
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