In “Something prety out of very little”: Graniteville Mill Village, 1848, Lisa Goff describes how Charleston entrepreneur William Gregg built Graniteville, South Carolina, to prove the viability of southern manufacturing, which he believed could help avert war between South and North, and to quell planters’ fears that industry would mar the beauty of the South. The village's whitewashed Carpenter Gothic cottages, with matching hotel, school, and church designed by Richard Upjohn, were intended to instill virtues of hard work, clean living, and respect for authority in a white workforce drawn from surrounding farms. Gregg exercised a patriarch's control over his industrial utopia, but the nicknames workers gave the place, and what they told visiting missionaries, show that they experienced Gregg's Gothic hamlet on their own terms. An avid gardener and horticulturist active in the Episcopal Church, Gregg would have been aware of the claims to moral superiority associated with the Gothic Revival style. Goff's analysis of letters, published articles, corporate reports, and advertisements in local newspapers reveals that Gregg's strategies of social contol—adapted from his study of Robert Owen and David Dale—had sinister underpinnings: programmed for hard work at low wages by the “ethical” architecture and orderly “natural” landscape, a white, largely female workforce would insulate the Graniteville Mill from the effects of abolition, should it come.
“Something prety out of very little”: Graniteville Mill Village, 1848
Lisa Goff is a cultural historian who teaches courses on American landscapes and public history. Her first book, Shantytown, USA: Forgotten Landscapes of the Working Poor (Harvard University Press), was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2016. She is currently writing a book about Montpelier for the University of Virginia Press. http://english.as.virginia.edu/people/profile/lg6t
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Lisa Goff; “Something prety out of very little”: Graniteville Mill Village, 1848. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 March 2019; 78 (1): 49–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsah.2019.78.1.49
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