n view at The Museum of Greenwood is an exhibit on Greenwood Mills and on view at the Arts Center of Greenwood is an exhibit on textiles.
The Arts Center of Greenwood also has local pottery on display and there are even limited edition face masks for purchase featuring artwork by local artists.
Family-owned textile company part of Greenwood’s fabric and subject of The Museum’s exhibit.
The Greenwood Mills exhibit, on view through Jan. 2, highlights textile manufacturing plants, people and the communities that have made the Greenwood-based family-owned textile corporation part of the fabric of Greenwood. Greenwood Mills is sponsor for the exhibit.
“Everyone identifies the Self family name with Greenwood Mills, with the Self Family Foundation and they identify it with the hospital here, said Marion Smith, The Museum’s exhibits coordinator. “These are people who have long been part of our community. Let’s tell a little bit of their story through photographs.”
William Lowndes Durst founded the Greenwood Cotton Mill in 1889. It began production in 1890.
The mill rapidly expanded, adding four other Greenwood-area plants over the next decade.
But, the mill nearly failed in the early 1900s. According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia, Greenwood Cotton Mill was plagued by inefficient equipment and limited capital, during a financial panic that swept the United States in 1907.
Then, in 1908, James Cuthbert Self, then a cashier with The Bank of Greenwood, was selected as president and a generous contract with the Draper Corporation of Massachusetts for new machinery saved the struggling company.
By 1935, Self had purchased all the company’s stock, becoming the sole owner and making Greenwood Mills a privately held corporation.
“The Self Family archives have a lot of personal pictures,” Marion said. “Greenwood Mills has changed over the last 130 years, going from nine or more plants to one. But, in the end it’s the manufacturing of a product by people.”
Marion said he culled through photographs, handwritten letters, wedding invitations and more in pulling the exhibit together.
Organized in 1942, the Self Family Foundation has been part of the Greenwood community for five generations. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $70 million in grants to improve the quality of life in Greenwood and throughout the state. The Foundation’s primary areas of emphasis are education, community wellness, arts, culture and history.
Today, Greenwood Mills produces materials for a variety of items, including military, tactical, uniform and consumer apparel brands.
In spring 2020, Greenwood Mills switched from making denim to making non-medical-grade masks and gowns, just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made recommendations about face coverings to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus.