The textile legacy of Spartanburg’s historic Drayton Mill has come full circle.
Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co. announced Thursday, Sept. 6, that its floor covering division has developed a collection of rugs inspired by the former Milliken plant.
A Milliken design team visited the 115-year-old mill about one year ago to draw inspiration for the collection from a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the site aimed at transforming it into a dynamic mixed-use community.
“It was inspiring to see how history was being preserved while setting the stage for more modern living,” said Ginny Jones, a senior designer with Milliken, in a statement. “That very idea of merging the old and new at Drayton Mills, formed the foundation for the Drayton rug collection.”
Milliken said its design team was inspired by artifacts and building features that were preserved during the renovation.
Those elements include original maple floors embedded with metal shavings from textile machinery that once operated in the mill, tall ceilings, massive hearth pine beams, exposed brick, and old weaving books on display throughout the property.
“When the Milliken design team toured the restored space, the historic artifacts and finishes sparked their creativity and encouraged them to rethink traditional design,” the company said in a statement.
The company said the collection includes 10 rugs that each feature distinctive traditional textile patterns found in cultures across the globe.
Those patterns range from intricate Persian and ornate English themes to geometric African mud cloth motifs, the company said.
The rugs have a distressed look the company said gives the rugs a “fresh interpretation of timeless classics” that allow the patterns to “feel new and relevant in modern interiors.”
Customers can choose each Drayton rug in one of five unique color schemes and one of five sizes, including a large 10.9-foot by 13.2-foot version, the company said.
Milliken said the rugs are constructed with performance nylon that repels stains and releases soil, which makes them durable and easy to clean.
The company said it is planning to hold an event to celebrate the launch of the new rug collection.
The event, which is open to the public, will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at Drayton Mills Marketplace at 1802 Drayton Road in Spartanburg on the loading dock outside of Bella Latte.
The event will feature live music from violinist Joshua Goodwin.
Milliken said it will offer the rugs at a discounted price to Drayton Mills residents.
To the casual observer, Drayton Mills might seem like a conglomeration of old industrial buildings.
For Spartanburg residents, however, the former textile complex has indisputably evolved into one of the community’s best existing physical and theoretic links connecting its past to its present and future.
The Romanesque Revival-style mill, designed by Lockwood, Greene and Co., was built in 1902.
It features a Tudor Revival-French Eclectic company store constructed in 1919 that was designed by one of the South’s most distinguished textile mill designers Joseph Sirrine.
In 1929, a second mill was added to the mill’s complex to house the weaving operations, while the 1902 mill housed the spinning operations
Deering Milliken Co. acquired the mill in 1937.
During World War II, the mill was recognized for excellence in production of war equipment during World War II and was presented with the Army-Navy “E” Award.
Additional warehouses were constructed near the spinning and weaving plants between the late 1940s and 1960s.
At its peak, Drayton employed about 1,200 people.
The advent of air conditioning led Milliken to replace the mill’s widows with brick, which for decades concealed much of the facility’s historic character.
In 1994, after 92 years of continuous operation, the mill shuttered. Many of its workers left Spartanburg in search of work.
The surrounding mill village began to deteriorate physically, while the sense of community that had flourished for generations continued to wither.
In 2013, Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, a private equity firm founded in 2007 by Milliken shareholders to preserve and progress the textile giant’s real estate and energy assets, reopened the facility for development.
Pacolet Milliken sold the spinning and weaving plants to Charlotte, N.C.-based TMS Development.
TMS competed a full historic restoration of the spinning and weaving facilities and constructed 289 luxury loft apartments, a fitness center, lap pool, and other amenities. The apartments are named Drayton Mills Lofts.
“Milliken’s strong history and commitment to this community is a primary reason why our firm chose to develop Drayton Mills,” said Tara Sherbert, managing partner of of TMS, in a statement. “This beautiful rug collection symbolizes the rich and sustained history, along with the awakened and reclaimed future years to come at Drayton Mills.”
In 2015, Pacolet Milliken sold the warehouses, company store, and former employee health office to TMS and its former vice president of real estate John Montgomery.
Montgomery had been working on the Drayton project for several years, but decided to leave Pacolet Milliken to start his own development venture, the Montgomery Development Group.
His great-great grandfather, John H. Montgomery, helped organize the mill in 1902.
TMS and Montgomery Development began a renovation of the warehouses, company store, and employee health office aimed at transforming those facilities into a commercial complex named Drayton Mills Marketplace.
The effort was focused on bringing in new retail, dining, and office developments that would complement the lofts and serve as many as 500 new residences planned for the nearly 200 acres surrounding the 16-acre mill site.
The Marketplace has so far attracted several tenants, including Rick Erwin Dining Group’s The Standard: A Refined Kitchen, Mozza Roasters, Bella Latte, Melotte Enterprises, Burn Boot Camp, Agracel Inc., Pi-Squared Pizza, and Palmetto Proactive Healthcare.
Sherbert said Drayton Mills is the largest historic renovation to date in South Carolina.
Milliken said the project is the first historic mill renovation to successfully complete a rehabilitation of both its main mill buildings and ancillary warehouses as part of an overall redevelopment plan.
Spartanburg County School District 7 has begun construction of a new elementary school nearby that will be named after the mill and surrounding community. The school is expected to open in 2018.