The Rock Hill Herald reported on June 14, 1888 – “Mr. W.G. Adams has removed his family to Rock Hill and they are now occupying their new cottage in the West End of Rock Hill.”
“A prolific commercial contractor from Rock Hill, S.C.” On May 31, 1895 the Yorkville Enquirer reported – “Mr. W.G. Adams, who was injured by a fall in the Tobacco Factory building last week, is out again and is looking out for his business though he still feels the effects of his injuries.”
City Directories and History: 1908 – W.G. Adams and Maggie, contractor, 1917 – W. G. Adams, 1922/23 – W.G. Adams, 1936 – William G. Adams, 1963 – R. Cooper Elkins
The successful contractor, Wm. G. Adams built some of the finest of educational and industrial building in the Chester, Lancaster, Laurens, and York County areas. One of his crowning achievements was the contract for building the Chester Opera House and City Hall on West End Street. But so little is know of his life in general, and for all of his successes, he lived in a humble home in downtown Rock Hill.
The Herald reported on July 30, 1887 – “That W.G. Adams has secured the contract for building the (Rock Hill), graded school with a bid of $4,950.”
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Aug. 26, 1891 – “Mrs. Janie C. McKenzie has bought the lot on Kings Mountain Street between Mr. Thomas O’Farrell and Mr. J.O. Walker and will build a handsome residence at once. Mr. W.G. Adams has the contract.”
The Herald reported on June 18, 1895 – “W.G. Adams will build a house for W. B. Wilson. It will be a twelve room dwelling on the premises in Oakland known as the Simon Mills place, about three hundred yard in front of the home of W.H. Stewart. It is of modern design and two stories in height.”
The Herald reported on June 19, 1895 – “That the tobacco factory was built in 33 days, it is three stories, 48 – 104 feet, and contains 289,000 brick. Mr. W.G. Adams is the contractor.”
The Herald reported on Aug. 14, 1895 – “W. G. Adams has been employed to supervise the construction of the Lancaster Cotton Mill. The building will be 80 – 200 ft., with three stories and a basement.”
The Herald reported on June 18, 1895 – That W.G. Adams will build a house for W. B. Wilson. It will be a twelve room dwelling on the premises in Oakland known as the Simon Mills place, about three hundred yard in front of the home of W.H. Stewart. It is of modern design and two stories in height.”
The Herald reported on Oct. 12, 1895 -” the George B. Anderson (the 1908 RH City Directory states this house was on Spruce near White St.), family moved yesterday into the house recently occupied by the honorable W. B. Wilson and family. And the Wilsons have moved into their own elegant new home. (Oratory)
The Lancaster News reported on July 18, 1906 – “Mr. W.G. Adams, the well known builder and contractor now of Camden, S.C., spent Sunday in Lancaster, his old home.”
On March 4, 1915 contractor, “W.G. Adams began laying brick on the Izard Building this morning.”
WILLIAM G. ADAMS
William Graham Adams was born about 1856 in Lancaster County, the son of John H. Adams and Mary Graham Adams. (Not to be confused with John H. Adams of York, S.C.) In the 1860 Census, the family is shown as living in Lancaster County. W. G. was four years old, and he had a sister named Sarah and a brother named John, both older. Also in the household were Elizabeth Adams, age 65, who was born in Ireland about 1795 and Joseph Adams, aged 39. Both Joseph Adams and John H. Adams was farmers. It is likely that they were brothers and that Elizabeth was their mother.
W. G. Adams lived in Rock Hill most of his adult life, and his home was at 418 Hampton Street from at least 1908 to his death in 1939. He was a building contractor known for building a number of important homes and public buildings in Rock Hill and other communities. Although he lived in Rock Hill, he also had a business office in Camden for a number of years.
We have documentation on a number of properties built by Mr. Adams. Some of the buildings constructed in Rock Hill included the Rock Hill Graded School (1887), the Southern Hotel (originally the Carolina Hotel built in 1888 on Main Street in Rock Hill), McLauren Hall at Winthrop University, homes for John T. Roddey in 1889 (404 East Main Street and 219 Oakland Avenue), the Poag/Robbins House (built in 1889 on Main Street and later moved to 130 Reid Street), and the W. B. Wilson House at 434 Charlotte Avenue in 1895 (now the Oratory). In Lancaster, he built the Lancaster Cotton Mill in 1895. In Chester, he built the City Hall and Opera House in 1890-91.
Mr. Adams married Margaret Crowell and they had at least three children, Mrs. Mamie B. Murray of Rock Hill, Mrs. John R. McDonald of Greenville, and William C. Adams of Ozark, Alabama. Mr. Adams and his family were members of St. Johns Methodist Church in Rock Hill.
W. G. Adams died on March 13, 1939 at his home and was buried at Laurelwood Cemetery in Rock Hill. The funeral service was held at Bass Funeral Home with the Rev. J. F. Lupo, pastor of St. Johns Methodist Church officiating. The active pallbearers were L. S. Starnes, P. R. Robertson, F. D. Marshall, J. Frank Smith, Earl Hearn, and J. C. Houser. Mrs. Adams died on November 25, 1941.
Sources: The obituary for W. G. Adams appeared in the Rock Hill Herald on March 14, 1939, and was used for much of the information in this article. The information on buildings constructed by Mr. Adams was gathered from various issues of the Rock Hill Herald. Written and contributed by Paul Gettys – 2016
Obituary of John H. Adams—Saturday afternoon last, one of Yorkville’s most esteemed citizens. He had been in feeble health for some years, suffering, at times, great inconvenience from asthma. Latterly, a complication of diseases attacked his system. . . . Mr. Adams was born in the vicinity of Bethel, in this county, in the year 1811. At the age of about twenty years, he came to Yorkville and entered into business with the late Col. Wm. Wright. At the age of thirty years he became a member of the Presbyterian Church of this place, and some years later was selected as one of its deacons, and subsequently one of its elders, which latter position he continued to hold through the remaining years of an honorable and useful life. After a residence here of some years, he began business as a merchant on his own account, and continued this vocation (except for an interval, from 1863 to 1867) until the day of his death.. . .On Monday, his remains were conveyed to their last resting place at Bethel, where rest a long line of ancestry and kindred. —The Yorkville Enquirer, July 8, 1875. R&R Note: It is unclear as to the relationship of this John H. Adams and the subject’s father. But it is most unlikely that they were not related.
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