City Directories and History: The Orr Cotton Mill was organized in 1899, the second cotton mill to be built near Anderson by James Lawrence Orr, Jr., who resided in Greenville and was the mill’s first president. John E. Wigington was the mill’s manager. By 1909, the mill ran 57,496 spindles and 1,504 looms with 600 employees working to produce sheeting, shirting, and print cloth. The mill remained in the Orr family until 1946 when the Lowenstein textile chain purchased the mill and the name was changed to Orr-Lyons Mill after its new manager John Andrew Lyons.
The village associated with the mill contains four styles of worker housing. All of the homes are one-story and can be divided into two distinct stylistic groups: early housing that was constructed at the time the mill was organized, and later housing constructed in the 1920s and 1930s.
Two examples of early mill housing can be found in the Orr village. The first are one-story frame homes with lateral gable roofs and a gabled ell on the rear façade, central brick chimneys, shed porches, six-over-six windows, weatherboard siding, and brick pier foundations. The second are similar, yet smaller with lateral gable saltbox roofs, central chimneys, shed porches, weatherboard exteriors, and brick pier foundations. This second style is the most common found in upstate mill villages.
There is a group of later homes found along Curtis and Lewis Streets on the west side of Highway 81 from the main body of the village. These homes are also divided into two distinct groups. The first is a one-story home with front-gable roof, offset engaged porch, weatherboard exterior, six-over-six windows, two interior brick chimneys, and brick pier foundations. These homes have Craftsman style decorative elements including exposed rafter tails and knee braces beneath the eaves and narrow diamond attic vents in the gable ends. The second form has a lateral gable roof, central brick chimney located within the front roof slope, shed porch, weatherboard exterior, six-over-six windows, and brick pier foundation. This second set of homes also has narrow diamond vents in the gable ends.
In 1983, the mill was running blend apparel fabrics and was scheduled for modernization which never took place. Today, the mill is gone except for the smokestack, water tower, the store which faces South Main.
- Historical and Architectural Survey of Anderson County, South Carolina (2002)
- Orr Mill Monument (Note: this monument was originally located near the mill site. It is now located at the Anderson County Museum.)
- 1918 Sanborn Maps: Orr Mill Village, Orr Mill Detail
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