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.
A nineteenth-century photograph of the Graniteville Mill near Aiken, South Carolina, shows three men in straw hats wrestling a wagonload of cotton bales up an incline to the picker house (Figure 1). Behind them, several workers headed for twelve-hour shifts pause outside the mill's front doors, located in a pair of squat, square projecting granite towers. A horse-drawn delivery wagon heads down the gravel drive, away from the mill. Tall windows line both floors of the factory. A row of skylights lies flush with the roof, admitting light but scant air into the attic, where unseen women work at rows of weaving machines. A few trees and bushes, enclosed by a meticulously trimmed hedge, stand against the gray stone façade. A fountain spurts hopefully in the middle of the grassy lawn.
The mill, located beside the rushing falls of Horse Creek on a spur of the South Carolina Railroad, had been operating for several decades when this photograph was taken. It was little changed from its founding in 1847, however, as an 1851 illustration in De Bow's Review of the Southern and Western States, captured from the same vantage point, confirms (Figure 2). That image accompanied an article that heralded the Graniteville Mill—which came online in stages from the spring of 1848 to the summer of 1849—as the manufacturing model the South so badly needed. Certainly the mill's founder, William Gregg, a Charleston jeweler turned industrialist, believed he was starting something at Graniteville that could secure the economic future of the region, and possibly even avert the war with the North that so many of his contemporaries were willing to fight.1
Judging from the perspective of both images, the artist and the photographer each stood near the house where Gregg lived while the mill was being built in 1847–48. Today, a visitor can still glimpse the bell tower of the old mill peeking out between the rooflines of modern buildings (Figures 3 and 4). But in the 1850s Gregg would have had an unobstructed view: the canal across the street, the broad green lawn and plantings in front of the mill, and the sheer rock face of the factory, built of blue granite stones cut (almost certainly by enslaved workers) from the bed of the canal. The mill would have been at home in Lawrence or Lowell, Massachusetts; there was nothing exceptional about its exterior.
To capture what was unusual about Graniteville, the artist would have needed to turn around and look up the hill at the mill village. There he would have seen not the usual loose strand of houses strung along a dirt path between mill and river, but a prim grouping of cottages uniformly executed in the Gothic Revival style. Each had four rooms—two on the ground floor and two in the attic—and a central chimney. At the center of the row, a small wooden Gothic Revival church provided a focal point for the dozens of workers’ cottages that flanked it. Another church of similar design punctuated the northern end of the roughly half-mile-long village. Larger cottages lined the side streets, and a few blocks away the bell in the tower of the Graniteville Academy, another Gothic Revival structure, called workers’ children to school.
Mill owners before and after Gregg did many things to attract and control their workforces: they built housing, churches, and stores, punished the disobedient, and rewarded the hardworking and horticulturally gifted. Paternalistic mill owners in both the North and the South believed that they needed to foster righteous living in their villages in order to keep workers sober and obedient. Inspired by high-minded precursors Robert Owen and David Dale, they, like Gregg, attempted to impart an upright tone with recreation halls, schools, libraries, and visiting dancing masters. But Gregg was unusual among these early mill owners in that he consciously employed a style of architecture to create a moral imperative—a strategy that sent a powerful message not only to his potential workforce, an assembly of native and transient whites who had not achieved the white bourgeois dream of owning 10 acres and at least one slave, but also to his investors and detractors, who fought over the wisdom of establishing a manufacturing base in the South.
The only large-scale textile mill operating in the South at the time, Graniteville became both a laboratory and a catalyst for some of the region's most divisive debates about the future of the southern economy during the 1840s and 1850s. One side, led by Gregg, asserted that manufacturing would bolster the region's economic power and therefore its ability to sustain slavery, while the other side argued that any disruption of plantation agriculture—especially one that empowered poor whites—would fuel a class struggle that would dilute political support for slavery. Many influential southern capitalists and politicians also feared that manufacturing would invite into the verdant South the kind of squalor seen in northern and British industrial cities, or the class unrest experienced in northern manufacturing centers such as Lowell, Massachusetts.
At Graniteville, Gregg created an experiment in how to industrialize the South without triggering either of those outcomes. The use of the Gothic Revival style was a key part of his strategy. He went so far as to hire the leading practitioner of the style, Richard Upjohn, to design a church and possibly other structures for the mill village, asking him to build “something prety [sic] out of very little.”2 He also hired an up-and-coming Gothic Revival architect from Charleston, Edward Brickell White, to design a second church. Gothic Revival architecture was exceedingly rare in the South at the time, and Gregg's decision to use “Carpenter Gothic” for the housing and to hire Upjohn and White to design his churches speaks to the intensity of his belief that this style would facilitate the manufacturing transformation he wanted. Graniteville represents an early, if not the earliest, didactic use of the Gothic Revival style in a manufacturing enterprise. Model worker housing was first exhibited at international fairs in the early 1850s, and as Kingston Heath has pointed out in his study of the late nineteenth-century picturesque Howland Mill Village in New Bedford, Massachusetts, model villages did not become common in the United States until after 1871.3 Gregg's village of single-family homes predated even the famous 1853 example of Saltaire, a woolen mill village in northern England built by a disciple of utopian socialist Charles Fourier. While claims of “first” are subject to varying definitions of what constituted a model mill village, Gregg was certainly among the first to build one, not only in the South but in all of the United States.4
Siting and Building the Mill
The mill was built from 1846 to 1848 in an isolated stretch of the hilly, sandy midlands of South Carolina, in the valley created by Horse Creek, a tributary of the Savannah River that plunged over the fall line and created an excellent source of water power (Figure 5). Pitched 190 feet above sea level, the creek pulsed at the rate of 160 cubic feet of water per second when full, ending in a 40-foot fall that emptied into a tranquil lake above what would become Graniteville. The site is still surrounded by forests of longleaf pine and mountain laurel that thrive in the sandhills, where ancient beach dunes once fronted the coastline, dividing the coastal plain from the Piedmont along a diagonal from northeast to southwest. Chalky cliffs on either side of the valley, remarked upon by early visitors to the mill, reveal the unique red-and-white mixture of sand, gravel, clay, and kaolin that characterizes the area.5
The towns nearest to the mill were Aiken, South Carolina, about 6 miles east, laid out as a summer resort at the terminus of the South Carolina Railroad in 1834, and Augusta, Georgia, a center of the cotton and slave trade 12 miles south, just across the Savannah River and the Georgia state line. In 1833, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad company extended its line to cover the entire 136 miles between Charleston and Hamburg, South Carolina, which stood across the Savannah River from Augusta (Figure 6). Shortly before the mill opened, Gregg and the railroad negotiated a deal under which a spur of the line would be built within a mile south of the mill; until 1868, when the line was extended, wagons carried freight over that gap. Access to the railroad was crucial to Gregg's plan to produce high-quality cotton goods at Graniteville and distribute them through merchants in Charleston, rather than make only the coarse osnaburg fabric known as “Negro cloth” for a local market of nearby planters, as most other southern mills did. Evidently the quality of cloth produced at Graniteville was indeed superior, as the products gained highest marks at competitions and fairs in the United States, as well as at a world's fair in London.6
Gregg started construction of the dams and canal necessary for the mill as soon as the company was incorporated in March 1846; sawmills were erected on-site to mill lumber for temporary dams, worker housing, and the interior of the mill. The mile-long canal flowed due south from Horse Creek north of the mill, terminating directly in front of the factory on its eastern side. Horse Creek bulges slightly westward at the site of the mill, creating a curve that held the original mill and its outbuildings. By way of millraces, the water from the canal shot westward, powering the water turbine before emerging out the rear of the mill, where it flowed back into Horse Creek. Some 37 feet wide at the surface and more than 5 feet deep, the canal also angled slightly westward at its end: both canal and mill were aligned with the path of Horse Creek.7 “The Factory building is situated about fifty yards from the creek,” the Charleston Courier reported, “on a perfectly flat piece of ground, peculiarly adapted for a site, so much so that it looks like Dame Nature designed it as such.”8 This description captures the impression that Gregg was determined to make: industry could fit, indeed almost disappear, into the natural landscape of the South.
This counterpoint between nature and industry continued inside the mill. Great ceiling timbers and wood floors evoked the pine forests outside, while rough granite walls—the blocks were hewn on five sides only—created a cave-like interior. But inside that cave workers operated cutting-edge machinery in a building heated by steam and lighted, within a few years, by gas.
At 351 feet long and 50 feet wide, the two-story Graniteville factory was smaller than northern mills but huge by southern standards, boasting 9,425 spindles and 300 looms. That made its capacity three times that of the second-biggest South Carolina mill at the time, located a few miles upriver at Vaucluse, and ten times that of the average southern cotton mill. The design mimicked northern mills except for the choice to replace a central tower with twin towers of three stories each; one held a bell. The towers provided space to move materials vertically, leaving the entire factory floor open for machinery, and they were protected by fire doors, which increased safety. These modern touches, along with the latest machinery purchased from northern and European sources, were frequently mentioned in newspaper and journal articles about the mill.9 Said one writer in 1848: “The rude forest has been cleared, streets laid out, canals cut, embankments thrown up, malls graded and tastefully laid out, saw-mills, machine shops, stores, offices, dwellings for operatives and factory houses erected; and all put into such a state of forwardness, as already to present the appearance of a flourishing and busy village.”10
Hiring an All-White Workforce
Gregg needed to hire four hundred workers. Historians have estimated an available white workforce of almost one thousand men and women in the surrounding area in 1850; on average, these heads of households were thirty-eight years old with four or five dependents.11 While Gregg's sturdy houses would attract impoverished local families to work in his mill, their beauty would also, he believed, exert an influence on residents’ behavior, both at work and at home. Workers could not walk to work or look out their windows without seeing all around them Gregg's architectural homily for the worker's soul, for he utilized the very beams and posts above his workers’ heads to preach his message of hard work and clean, orderly living, all validated by Christian theology.
Gregg was an outspoken critic of the cotton plantation system, which he believed stymied the southern economy. Proselytizing for manufacturing in 1845, he predicted that textile manufacturing would “revolutionize our State, morally and physically,” and “shake the very foundation of the beds of granite that abound in all parts of our State.”12 He opposed the secession of the South from the United States (although he ultimately voted in favor) and promoted manufacturing at a time when few southerners did. He was visionary in many ways, including his choice of architectural style for his mill village. And yet that village respected existing class and race hierarchies. Like early mill owners in the North, Gregg was careful not to arouse the hostility of the white ruling class. His orderly mill village was designed to maintain the social distance between white laborers and white elites, to soothe wealthy white planters’ fears of disorderly factory workers even as it attracted poor whites to work in a factory.13 Gregg's pursuit of a progressive community ideal was always balanced by his adherence to traditional ideas about social hierarchy. He used up-to-date visual cues, drawn from popular culture, to signal the “forwardness” of his enterprise, but he never strayed from the rigid social hierarchy that appointed upper-class whites as the guardians and overseers of the laboring classes.14
Gregg was adamant that the Graniteville Mill workforce would be all white, drawn from the surrounding rural landscape. In 1845, expressing frustration over debates about the “capacity” of enslaved laborers for factory work, he made a plea for a white workforce: “Shall we pass unnoticed the thousands of poor, ignorant, degraded white people among us, who in this land of plenty live in comparative nakedness and starvation?”15 While it is tempting to cite Gregg's Quaker upbringing as an element in his decision not to use an enslaved workforce, no evidence exists to support that hypothesis. Although the fact goes unmentioned in almost every account of Gregg's life, an enslaved family lived on his estate near Graniteville, and by 1860 Gregg himself owned fourteen slaves. Even before he acquired slaves, he was careful to maintain his pro-slavery credentials. He named his sons after slave-owning friends, supplied the Confederacy during the war, and saw three sons serve in the Confederate army, including one who died in 1861 at age twenty-three. His brother-in-law and business partner, General James Jones, was a slave owner and served as the quartermaster for South Carolina during the Civil War.16
Gregg's decision to hire an all-white workforce appears to have stemmed from a conviction that, despite his own embrace of it, slavery might not last. Before Gregg built the Graniteville Mill, he invested in another nearby mill, called Vaucluse, for about a year in 1837. The mill was owned by a group of slave-owning planters who put their slaves to work there; they also employed some white operatives. In an essay written in 1845 Gregg refuted the prevailing notion that the quality of black laborers’ work was inferior to that of whites; he blamed the Vaucluse mill's troubles—it was $6,000 in debt when he arrived, and the owners were ready to walk away from their investment—on mismanagement by the planters.17 Within eight months Gregg had erased the debt and turned a $5,000 profit. He then sold his shares to two of the stockholders, both of whom owned significant numbers of slaves, and they proceeded once again to employ their slaves in the operation of the mill. Mismanagement reversed the financial gains Gregg had made, and in 1843 he scooped up the Vaucluse mill and 11,000 surrounding acres for a competitive price. On that land he would build his model mill, Graniteville Manufacturing Company, to turn out high-quality cotton goods produced by an all-white workforce.18
Disgusted by the mismanagement of the slave-owning mill owners at Vaucluse, and influenced by a new set of business partners who were either uninvested in or in the process of divesting from plantation agriculture, Gregg chose to employ an all-white workforce, which would be unaffected by abolition, should it come. But even as he laid plans for his mill to thrive financially after the demise of slavery, he publicly embraced the institution. When Gregg waged his crusade to hire “degraded white people” to work in his mill, he was careful to note that a key outcome of building schools and churches to educate and uplift them was the cultivation of an allegiance to southern “institutions,” which, as historian Tom Downey points out, was unsubtle code for slavery.19 Gregg provided a succinct if chilling synopsis of his workforce strategy in an 1851 speech to an association of South Carolina industrialists, in which he argued that one of the great advantages of building factories in the South was that “capital will be able to control labor, even in manufactures with whites, for blacks can always be resorted to in case of need.”20
Gregg bragged in 1854 that “we could in a month stock another factory”—a revealing word choice, associating workers with both livestock and retail inventory.21 And it was a claim that he could not have made had he decided to employ an enslaved workforce, as a boom in cotton production in the 1850s led to a shortage of hired-out enslaved workers. Gregg did have to deal, initially, with partners uncertain that he would be able to control a free, white workforce. Banker Hiram Hutchison, an early investor, noted in a letter to another stockholder in 1846 that he was “decidedly opposed to Negro operatives” but thought it might be necessary to employ some “young negroes” in the spinning room for the first two to three years because of the “difficulty of disciplining 300 [white] Carolinians.” He explained that “we think we can train them to the Harness best by degrees, keeping ourselves in an independent position.”22 By the time the mill was completed in 1848, however, Gregg had convinced Hutchison and all the stockholders that he could discipline white Carolinians unaccustomed to surveillance and management of their time, labor, and behavior.
A linchpin of his plan to do so was his Gothic Revival mill village—a visible, legible symbol of class hierarchy rooted in white supremacy. White mill workers’ presumed racial supremacy was signaled by superior housing, churches, and schools, and by the wages they were paid, but those workers were constrained by the knowledge that if they made trouble, they could be replaced by enslaved black laborers with no choice but to work in the mill.23 The fact that the Graniteville operatives did not own their homes but rather rented their housing from the company gave Gregg additional leverage.
Gregg's decision to use a white workforce was not unprecedented, but it was ambitious given the size of his mill. Attitudes toward poor whites were exceedingly condescending: the people Gregg planned to employ constituted a separate class of whites, denigrated as “sand-hillers” or “crackers.” “There were, in general, the aristocracy, the respectable people, the working people, and the poor whites or sand-hillers,” an anonymous author styling himself “a South Carolinian” wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in 1877. Those in the working class owned no slaves “and had to labor for a livelihood with their hands,” while poor whites, dismissed as ignorant and unclean, “lived on the sand hills in pine forests” and were “almost as despised as blacks.”24 These were the twin challenges Gregg hoped to meet with his design for Graniteville: the consensus among elites that poor whites did not want to work and the general fear of their intractability. Gregg's plans for the mill village addressed both.
Although Gregg did employ two architects in the design of several buildings at Graniteville—including one of the most famous of the period, Richard Upjohn—the design of the cottages is essentially “Carpenter Gothic,” an interpretation of the Gothic Revival style made widely available during the 1840s in architectural pattern books. But in the late 1840s, when Gregg chose it for Graniteville, Gothic Revival was only just becoming popular in residential architecture in the United States, and the style never took off in the South to the extent that it did in other parts of the nation. It was anything but a predictable choice for a mill village. The thoughtfulness with which Gregg chose it, and the rigor with which he applied it to the whole village, helps to explain the kind of industrial community he wanted to create. His choice of architectural style was part of a pattern of choices geared toward exacting loyalty and hard work in return for fair treatment and cultural and moral uplift. Gregg imposed, partly through the use of architecture, a cultural ideal on his workers. While there is scant evidence of how workers responded, there is enough to show that while they embraced some aspects of Gregg's ideal, they resisted others, sometimes to the point of ridicule. Although restrained by the fear of losing their jobs or perhaps simply by a desire to keep jobs they liked, workers pursued their own ideas of community within the Gothic shell provided to them, claiming it with names and unsanctioned patterns of behavior that created a narrative that contrasted with the one their employer sought to establish.25
William Gregg's Unlikely Path to Mill Ownership
Born in 1800 in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, Gregg was sent at age ten to live with an uncle who operated a tiny cotton factory in Georgia. The mill, an early example of manufacturing in the South, failed in 1814 as the region turned decisively to cotton production and away from manufacturing. Gregg later trained as a jeweler and silversmith and in 1824 opened a jewelry store in Columbia, South Carolina. His uncle's experience and temerity clearly affected him, and at thirty-four, struck with a debilitating (and unspecified) illness, he spent a long convalescence studying the South's economy and documenting the benefits of expanding its manufacturing base. Gregg soon became a partner in a new jewelry business in Charleston but spent most of his time developing his civic profile, becoming vice president of a savings bank for the poor and joining the Conversation Club, whose monthly meetings of Charleston's intellectual elite attracted such speakers as the noted European geologists Louis Agassiz and Sir Charles Lyell. Although a Quaker, Gregg attended the socially prominent St. Philip's Church with his wife, Marina, an Episcopalian (Figure 7). On visits to Philadelphia, where his mother lived, Gregg likely visited the salon of Henry C. Carey, a publisher turned economist known for his antisecessionist, protectionist, pro-manufacturing views. Carey, a friend of several of the leading textile manufacturing families in Rockdale, Pennsylvania, espoused “Christian capitalism,” an idealistic economic theory that charged businessmen with practicing Christian benevolence and social reform with the same zeal they applied in pursuing profits.26
Gregg read voraciously on the topic of manufacturing, including the works of Scottish textile mill engineer and manager James Montgomery. Montgomery, born and raised in the mill town of Blantyre, Scotland—built by David Dale, the developer of New Lanark—espoused views on “humane paternalism” that traced back to Robert Owen.27 “I do not hesitate to assert, that a Spinning Factory can never be managed more profitably, and more to the satisfaction of the proprietor, than when there exists a good feeling and a good understanding between the manager and workers,” Montgomery wrote.28 Historians have questioned the sincerity of statements like this, often made by paternalistic factory supervisors and owners in the northern United States as well as in the South.29 Certainly, Gregg understood the economic advantages of maintaining good relations between managers and workers. But he was also drawn to the environmental aspects of mill village design that distinguished Montgomery's and Dale's methods of paternalistic social control, which were also deployed by Robert Owen, Dale's son-in-law, after he took over management of New Lanark in 1800. In 1849 Gregg hired Montgomery, by that time working in Saco, Maine, as the first superintendent of the Graniteville Mill.
In the summer of 1844, while still laying plans for his cotton mill, Gregg buttressed his text-based research with fieldwork, making a lengthy tour of textile mills and communities in New England. He visited cotton mills in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. He was particularly impressed with the mills in Newburyport and Lowell, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Originally Gregg planned to copy the Lowell system of drawing young female workers from the countryside and lodging them in boardinghouses. But he opted instead for the Rhode Island model of the one-company town situated in a rural area. By siting the mill in the country, and by designing sturdy housing, he hoped to attract good workers at low wages. Like many other mill owners, Gregg considered city workers undesirable because of the vices they were thought likely to pursue—drinking, gambling, promiscuity. In a city, Gregg later wrote, it would be impossible “to control the moral habits of the operatives, and to keep up a steady, efficient, and cheap working force.”30
Richard Upjohn Tapped to Design Baptist Church
By the time Gregg established the Graniteville Manufacturing Company in early 1846, he had become one of the most virulent, articulate, and well-known critics of the cotton plantation system, and one of the most outspoken and widely published champions of “manufactures,” as the textile industry was called at the time. The Graniteville Mill was founded as a joint stock corporation, unusual in the South. Architecturally, too, it was contemporary. Under pressure from his investors to save money, Gregg had planned a rudimentary mill village modeled on the one at Vaucluse, where he had lived for several months while managing that mill in 1837. The single-family houses of that 1830s village were typical of other mill housing built in the early days of the southern textile industry. Gregg described them in a letter written in July 1846: “about 16 by 30 [feet]—two stories, divided on first floor into three rooms, second [floor] as occasion requires, one chimney, or brick, the boards … painted white outside, shingle roof.” The cost: “about [$]150 to $200” each.31 These houses were not unlike the single-family dwellings Gregg saw in several of the northern textile areas he visited in 1844. And as in most mill villages, those at Vaucluse sprang up in spurts, a few houses followed by a store and perhaps later a school. Gregg took a different path.
During a trip to Boston in July 1846, possibly to buy equipment for his new mill, Gregg stayed at the home of his friend E. B. Bigelow, an economist and inventor responsible for several improvements to the power looms used in the textile industry. Bigelow was about to commission a new residence from Upjohn, who had just completed his career-making Trinity Church in New York City. Whether owing to a good report from his friend Bigelow or because he had read news accounts of Upjohn's success with Trinity Church, Gregg decided to consult the architect about Graniteville. In a letter sent from Charleston, Gregg asked Upjohn to direct him to “some cheap stile [sic] of Architecture, that we may go on afterwards and build up a uniform Village conforming to some sort of order.” He had chosen Upjohn, he added, “understanding that you are peculiarly happy in making something prety out of very little.” Gregg went on to explain that he was under pressure to start building his mill village but did not yet have approval from his investors to consult Upjohn. He asked for “useful hints” regarding style and design of a boardinghouse for workmen and two or three cottages that had to be built immediately, buildings “which would conform to some general plan that you may advise, when I am authorized by the company to consult with you.” What he really wanted was a “general plan of a village with school house church &c.,” about which he hoped to speak with Upjohn in person during the following two months. He wanted all, he said, to be of “the same stile, or order.” Uniformity of design was uppermost in Gregg's mind.32
However Gregg came to Upjohn, he likely knew a fair amount about the Gothic Revival movement already. He was an avid gardener and horticulturist, and he probably knew of A. J. Downing through his 1841 book Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening or his Fruits and Fruit Trees of America of 1845.33 He may even have seen Downing's comments on house designs, published in 1845–46 in Horticulturist magazine, which Downing edited (the comments were republished in 1850 in his Architecture of Country Houses). The September 1846 issue of Horticulturist, for example, included two Gothic Revival–style designs for a board-and-batten “working man's cottage,” along with Downing's argument that houses should match the status of their users.34 Further, as Gregg was returning from his fact-finding trip to New England in 1844, he undoubtedly noticed the Gothic Revival Huguenot Church rising in Charleston, beside St. Philip's, the Episcopal church he himself attended. A diminutive sanctuary with gable roof, elaborate pinnacles, and flying buttresses, this was the work of Edward Brickell White, who went on to become one of Charleston's most prominent architects, designing such major civic institutions as the Custom House, begun in 1852. In 1844, he was a pioneer, his work showing the effects of a trip north made two years earlier that exposed him to the Gothic Revival work of Downing and Davis.
With his craftsman's appreciation of beauty, Gregg was likely moved by the Gothic Revival style's graceful forms, their investing of simple materials with poise and elegance. But Gregg had other reasons to choose it. Active in his church, he was aware of the claims to moral superiority associated with the Gothic Revival. The ecclesiology movement in the Episcopal Church during the 1840s declared Gothic the authentic Christian architectural style, capable of promoting religious devotion.35 The style made its reputation in the United States as the new mode for churches, and long after it moved beyond the churchyard, it retained a whiff of the liturgical. As historians Alma DeC. McArdle and Deirdre Bartlett McArdle note, “Gothic was moral (ergo Christian) since it did not impose rigid orders upon the design, but left the architect room to adapt design to purpose.”36 The movement's proponents also claimed that exposure to the Gothic style could build character. In Architecture of Country Houses, Downing wrote that a beautiful home in the Gothic style would “not only refine and elevate the mind, but pour into it new and infinite sources of delight.”37 As promoted by Downing and Davis, the movement also elevated the rural aesthetic, championing towering woods and rushing streams such as those that surrounded the homes of Gregg's mill workers.
Most important, a mill village rendered in the Gothic Revival style would mark a sharp break with what had gone before. It would announce in its very boards and nails that Graniteville, South Carolina, was different from the southern mill villages that preceded it. While the Gothic Revival had taken root in New England by 1846, it was still new in the South, where Greek Revival plantation houses were widespread. Eschewing the Greek Revival's traditional symmetry and classical gravitas, the Gothic Revival style was an apt choice for someone building a cotton mill in the face of public apprehension. Gothic Revival architecture could be as effective a rhetorical device as the bombast Gregg published in the business magazines of the day.38
At the same time, in Gregg's hands, this new architectural fashion helped to preserve the entrenched social order. If his sole purpose had been to choose a style signaling a break with earlier worker housing, Gregg could just as easily have chosen Greek Revival. Maybe he thought housing his workers in buildings of the style seen in the new homes of some of his wealthy friends was unsuitable. Or he may have thought “Christian” Gothic a more appropriate style for working people than “democratic” Greek Revival. The boardinghouses of Lowell, for example, were ornamented with Greek Revival trim, yet they were filled with increasingly disgruntled workers. Gothic pointed the way not to democracy but to moral responsibility and church authority.
Gregg hired Upjohn to design a church for Graniteville—the original Baptist church (although it is unclear whether Upjohn, a rigid Episcopalian, realized he was designing a sectarian church). There are no records of Upjohn's advice to Gregg regarding the style of other buildings; it may be that Gregg was guided less by Upjohn than by White, who designed Graniteville's Methodist church in 1846.39 What is clear is that in the three months that elapsed between his writing to Upjohn and the groundbreaking for Graniteville, Gregg thoroughly embraced the Gothic Revival style and the movement's philosophical underpinnings. Like most of his peers, he seems to have been untroubled by the fact that slave labor was almost certainly used to dig the mile-long canal that powered the mill, fell the timber for the hundred workers’ cottages and other buildings, and raise the roof beams for his new, Christian, character-building mill village.40
Designing the Mill Village Landscape
As the factory neared completion in 1848, Gregg advertised in several South Carolina newspapers for female workers over fourteen years old.41 His aim was to recruit four hundred young women, but the response to these early advertisements was tepid. Instead, it was Gregg's advertisements for laboring families, to be housed in single-family cottages, that garnered interest. He switched his plan from boardinghouses to single-family cottages and soon staffed his factory. As construction was winding down, Thomas Maxwell, a reporter from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, filed this report:
When Graniteville burst upon our view from the summit of the hill, its main building of white granite, 350 feet long, with two massive towers ornamented at the top, looking like some magnificent palace rising out of the vale below, with an extensive lawn in front, and clean trimmed, gravel walks around, and fountains spouting their crystal waters in the air in fantastic shapes; the neat boarding-houses and cottages for single families, and the handsome little church, all constructed and ornamented in the ancient Gothic style, and each house having its own garden for vegetables and flowers; and the evergreen woods sloping from their garden doors gradually to the summit of the hill where we stood—the whole scene is as though the wand of the enchantress had called it into existence.42
Contemporaneous reports testify to a more complex reality in the village, but there is no doubt it was a stunner compared to other southern mill towns of the day. For one thing, Gregg's planning encompassed the entire landscape, not just the buildings. On the 4 acres in front of the mill, laborers planted grass and thousands of rose cuttings as well as several species of evergreen trees, all traversed by broad walks of pulverized granite.43 The landscaping, Gregg wrote in an 1850 letter, “removed at once the impression” that mill workers were an inferior set destined to work in the “cramped up dirty greasy mills” of the northeast.44 In his attention to landscaping Gregg had something in common with Zachariah Allen, who created parks and public spaces in his Rhode Island mill villages Allendale and Georgiaville. Like Allen, Gregg had a keen understanding that an attractive and healthy outdoor environment was one means of attracting and influencing a workforce.45
By the fall of 1849 Gregg had built close to one hundred workers’ cottages on the streets east of the mill. Set on a steep bank elevated over the mill buildings and the canal, these wooden houses had large backyards bounded by woods. Today, live oaks planted in the twentieth century line a sidewalk that separates the houses’ small front yards from the street. The yards are shady and cool, even in the summer. Other cottages dot the streets that branch from Canal Street, where the superintendents occupied much larger two-story houses. Each house included enough land for a subsistence garden and space for small livestock. Nearby, larger cottages were built for two families (Figures 8 and 9). Running parallel with Canal Street, which fronted the mill, was Blue Row (now Gregg Street) (Figure 10). Side streets connected the two avenues like rungs in a ladder. Gregg's antiurban pronouncements notwithstanding, he created a grid-like layout with an urban sensibility, plunked down on a patch of land so barren it was known as Hardscrabble before Gregg christened it Graniteville (Figure 11). Walking along Blue Row in the 1840s would have been like walking down the street of a city neighborhood: houses that were similar to one another in mass and ornamentation, with consistent rooflines, sat on small, uniformly spaced lots.46
In a letter published in 1849, Gregg referred to the Graniteville cottages as being in “the Gothic cottage order.”47 While it is possible that White or even Upjohn planned the cottages, it is more likely that they were adapted from designs in pattern books of the period such as Rural Residences and Cottage Residences and built by skilled carpenters. Like the templates in those books, the cottages at Graniteville featured gable roofs, board-and-batten siding, asymmetrical façades, and eaves finished with turned and scroll-cut woodwork. “Mr. Gregg told us that … the ornamented work was … intended to give to the inhabitants a taste for the beautiful, and to encourage among the operatives a pleasant rivalry in making their homes agreeable,” a reporter wrote in 1848.48 Gregg may have gotten the aesthetic impact, perhaps even the moral ambiance, that he desired, but he fell short in one regard: the cottages were not as cheap to build as he had hoped. In his letters to Upjohn he said he would like to spend no more than $300 per house; the final cost was $400 each, totaling 14 percent of the original budget for building the manufacturing facility.
Gregg promised free land to the Baptist and Methodist churches if they would hire good architects—the Baptists got Upjohn, the Methodists, White—and both churches were constructed in 1848, before the mill began operating. Gregg was insistent that the entire landscape—canal, mill, offices, houses, school, and churches—be complete before production started. The original First Baptist Church was erected at the north end of Canal Street. It burned in March 1886, and a new sanctuary was built on Montgomery Street. No trace of the original building survives. Letters from Gregg to Upjohn in 1846–47 describe a building measuring 40 feet by 50 feet, made of wood. Gregg grumbled in one letter over Upjohn's use of an iron sash. Gregg deemed it “altogether new, and if not actually necessary I think had better be dispensed with.” A later letter to Upjohn, written in June 1848, identified the builder of the church as Jordan Lancaster, “an ingenuous [sic] and practical carpenter who has built a church after the plan you furnished me.” The church cost about $1,500 to build; Gregg paid Upjohn $75 for his design.49
The then-current vogue in church architecture was for Greek temple–style buildings. Such a prototype was built in 1843 in nearby Aiken: St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church, where Gregg was a vestryman.50 Upjohn countered the Greek temple norm with designs for small Gothic churches made of wood, a much cheaper material than masonry, which he used in his larger commissions. Around the same time he was working for Gregg, Upjohn was also turning out plans for churches in Brunswick, Maine; Providence, Rhode Island; Burlington, New Jersey; and Raleigh, North Carolina (in this instance, a masonry church). The nonstop demand for wooden church designs similar to these prompted Upjohn to publish Rural Architecture in 1852, providing small churches with ready-made designs for a Gothic church, chapel, and parsonage.
Edward Brickell White provided the design for St. John Methodist Church, located in the middle of Blue Row, Graniteville's main residential street (Figure 12). According to church records, the construction cost was $2,500. St. John was reminiscent of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brunswick, Maine, designed in 1845 by Upjohn. Both had cruciform plans with transepts, small chancels, wooden truss ceilings, and board-and-batten siding. Small stoops on both buildings’ front façades were supported by columns and enormous brackets with teardrop ornamentation (that ornament has disappeared from St. John in recent years). Inside, both had wooden walls designed to appear as if built of masonry. Doors and lancet windows were set deep into 2-foot-thick hollow walls, which were given a heavy plaster coating. According to local legend, during the Civil War escaping slaves hid inside St. John's false walls. Anything is possible, and the church had a racially mixed congregation before the Civil War, but the more likely explanation is that the walls were made that way for the sake of fashion, not freedom. St. John was the first wooden church White built, but all of his subsequent churches would be in the Gothic Revival style, most notably the Church of the Cross in Bluffton, South Carolina, which was made of cypress. White's masonry churches—including Trinity Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston—brought the influence of Augustus Pugin, Upjohn, and James Renwick to the Carolinas. His wooden churches, starting with St. John in Graniteville, spread the Carpenter Gothic style espoused by Downing and Davis.51
The final piece of Gregg's community was a school, the Graniteville Academy, and it too was executed in the Gothic Revival style (Figure 13). The original exterior, apart from the lost bell tower, is today well preserved: board-and-batten white clapboards, steeply pitched roof, front and side gables ornamented with decorative verge boards, rustic porch railings, and a broad front porch, its floor polished smooth by more than a century and a half of swaying rockers. The scalloped verge boards and the asymmetrical, raised-eyebrow contour of the gabled dormers on the front façade are flourishes on an otherwise basic Carpenter Gothic structure.
Social and Racial Hierarchy
In contrast to the mill complex, which followed the curve of the Horse Creek valley, the residential sector was an expression of strict order. Designed to subdue and direct the presumed nature of the people living in it, it was based on previous model mill towns by Dale and Owen, and presumably backed up by God's will, as expressed in the ecclesiastical gestures of Gothic Revival design. The “mall of evergreens” and fountain that Gregg installed on the roughly 50-yard lozenge of space between the mill and the canal served a key role.52 Much lauded by visitors, this small park softened the approach to the granite face of the mill, but it also marked a passage into regulated and circumscribed space. The central fountain both mechanized the spring that fed it and rendered it ornamental. The decorative trees Gregg planted in the mall, intended to comfort and beautify, also rebuked the unruly, “rude” pine forest that, despite clear-cutting to supply lumber for the mill's construction, still lapped at the village's edges.53 Through this mall the mill workers passed twice a day, crossing footbridges over the canal that separated the industrialized nature of the village from the naturalized industry of the mill complex. Some three hundred workers walked every morning down the slight incline from Blue Row, where most of the small workers’ cottages were located, filling the two (or possibly three) side streets leading to the mill. At day's end, they walked back uphill to their homes, behind which, less than a mile away, rose the mottled white-and-red chalk hills.
Even as Gregg supplied white workers with housing that elevated them over enslaved African Americans, he reminded them of their subordinate status in relation to other whites. The uniformity of the cottages, and their regular spacing on the street, implied an interchangeability that echoed in Gregg's references to “stocking” workers. The cottages of the poorest workers, which had the fewest rooms, were also distinguished by a blue wash that gave rise to the name Blue Row. The color visually linked these houses to the blue-gray granite used to build the mill. The use of whitewash would have sent an ambiguous signal: made from lime, a natural antiseptic, whitewash was commonly used to disinfect farm buildings, including dairies, and thereby had a demeaning connection to livestock; slave quarters were also sometimes whitewashed. The choice of a blue wash, made by adding small lumps of indigo and starch to the usual whitewash lime mixture, may have counteracted both associations.54
The houses of mill supervisors, by contrast, were painted white. Nominally Greek Revival in style, in contrast to the Gothic Revival of the workers’ cottages, and sporting “handsome porticos or piazzas,” they clustered on the block of Canal Street directly across from the mill.55 These stylistically plain but relatively grand residences—including the house at 78 Canal Street, which Gregg occupied for a time—would have been a focal point for workers going home to Blue Row after a day's work. But while this procession of large to small houses delineated status as one ascended the hill to Blue Row, the purposeful arrangement and solid construction of the workers’ cottages, elevated above the mill and Canal Street, simultaneously sent the message that poor white workers were both worthy of consideration and the object of high expectations—a sentiment few elite South Carolinians shared with Gregg.
During his visit to New England in 1844, Gregg witnessed the beginning of serious unionizing efforts in the Lowell mills. He wanted to keep his Graniteville workforce satisfied, but subdued. The threat of replacement by slaves, combined with decent but tightly controlled living conditions that emphasized the superiority of white “sand-hillers” over African Americans (while reiterating their inferiority to other whites), accomplished that.56
In the fall of 1849, when the mill had been in operation about a year, Gregg described the village in a letter to Hunt's Merchants’ Magazine: “The village covers about 150 acres of ground, contains two handsome Gothic churches, an academy, hotel, ten or twelve stores, and about one hundred cottages belonging to the company, and occupied by persons in their service. The houses vary in size from three to nine rooms each, nearly all built after the Gothic cottage order.” All this, he added, gave Graniteville “quite a novel appearance to a stranger.”57 Among the strangers encountering Gregg's village were his workers. Mostly lifelong residents of isolated, unpainted wooden houses with dirt floors, they found precise rows of whitewashed (or bluewashed) cottages elevated 3 feet off the ground on short brick piers, roofed with wooden shingles. (From April through July 1847, Gregg ran a weekly ad in the Edgefield Advertiser notifying shingle makers of the company's “wish to purchase a MILLION of Shingles.)58 In the country, where the same house form served a single couple or a family of ten, and where many well-off families lived in single-pen houses, the number of rooms in a house was not a good indicator of wealth or social position.59 But in Graniteville, the social hierarchy was as clear as the street signs: the more money your family made, the more rooms your house had. People used to seeing one or two other houses on the horizon, and those usually occupied by family members, encountered a ready-made neighborhood of neat houses arranged with the regularity of pens in a chicken coop, lining geometrically arranged streets. No more trekking to the well or a nearby stream for water: communal wells were located steps away from the houses’ front doors. And in place of forests, rocky fields, and uninhabited hills, Gregg's landscaped village featured tidy gravel paths and a mall of evergreens. Its institutional buildings would have been unfamiliar to the workers as well, for there were few public buildings in rural areas. Where Gregg's workers came from, the post office was often in someone's home, and all religious denominations shared a common church building, which often doubled as a school and meeting hall.
Moving into a ready-made house was a big transition for most of the Graniteville workers, for in rural areas house building was a communal activity. Gregg's expectations for home maintenance might also have come as a surprise, as families in the country routinely abandoned houses when they needed less or more space, moved away, or just got tired of where they were living. In many instances they left houses literally to rot. Indeed, it was the technology for constructing houses, not the houses themselves, that was most often passed from one generation to the next. Further, Gregg was surprised to discover, when seeking employees for his mill, that many poor whites considered factory work degrading.60 His village's Gothic Revival style had already been implemented, so it is hard to know how or to what extent this attitude affected his design strategy; he continued, in any case, to build houses of that style, hoping, perhaps, that these would assuage potential workers’ doubts.
The greatest challenge to the workers’ domestic habits may have been the interiors of their houses, which were divided into three to five rooms designed for separate functions. The typical cottage of four rooms featured a sitting room, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. Larger cottages had additional bedrooms (Figure 14). The houses most workers were accustomed to living in—whether hall-and-parlor, central-passage, or single-pen houses—would have had kitchens either separate from the houses or in ell additions, and interior spaces that were divided not by walls but by uses. Understanding the rules of sharing one or two large, multipurpose rooms was part of rural people's cultural knowledge. “Of all aspects of social and symbolic use of folk houses … it is this organization of space that differs the most from contemporary mainstream architectural use,” writes folklorist Michael Ann Williams. “Rich or poor, the choice to live in a single-pen house involved accepting a complex system of spatial use. … The descriptions of life within the big house by those who experienced it demonstrate that the simple house form belies the nature of the spatial system it encompassed.”61 If Williams is correct that “spatial use represents a system of culturally transmitted ideas, including ideas about both the nature of space and the nature of social relationships,” then Gregg was foisting new cultural symbols and systems on his workers.62 In these ready-made village houses it would have been difficult for workers to maintain their traditional systems of spatial use.
There is evidence that they tried. A journal kept by traveling missionary Micah S. Croswell during a visit to Graniteville in 1855 suggests that many workers continued to impose their own senses of space on their cottages. “Frequently I found two beds in a sitting room, and the parents and children as filthy as their habitations,” Croswell wrote.63 The young, condescending Baptist missionary was rebuffed by Graniteville residents, who asserted their love of dancing and of drinking—two vices strictly prohibited within the limits of Graniteville.64 Workers expressed their differing views of how best to run a community in other ways as well. They objected, for example, to Upjohn's church designs. “The plan was designed for a Methodist or Baptist church both of which are to be built at Graniteville,” Gregg wrote in a somewhat disjointed letter to Upjohn in November 1847. “Both parties disapprove of the plans.” Gregg faltered when he tried to explain why they objected, noting that their reservations “are not on record.” But he intimated that the church members found the plans too decorative. “You are aware that they are both characterized for plainness and simplicity in their houses of worship,” Gregg wrote, and he appealed to Upjohn to allay their concerns about the appropriateness of his Gothic Revival design.65
Workers who could not reflect their sense of self or their values in the design or construction of their living quarters found other ways to do so. While some villagers objected to the ornamentation of church buildings, others gave uncouth names to village streets. Nicknames like Punkin Gully, Skillet Alley, and Shake Rag for streets officially named Church, Canal, and Blue Row suggest a level of cynicism toward Gregg's community ideal and constitute a critique of his design for the neighborhood. Similarly, villagers created for themselves a zone where they could relax away from their employer (a teetotaler known for chasing drunken residents in his buggy, and for breaking their liquor bottles when he found them). Just over the village border to the south, close to the end of the railroad spur, was a shantytown where Gregg's oversight did not extend. Originally called Wooleytown by Graniteville residents (and renamed Madison in 1882), it was a place to get a drink and have a dance.66 The original owner, a northerner, established a store and built small rides to entertain the children.
Workers clearly needed a place to blow off steam, for Gregg gave them little control over their rented living spaces. He assigned workers to houses and could throw them out or relocate them at will. One resident of the village complained to Gregg about her neighbor, only to have him announce that a wagon would be at the complainer's front door the next morning—to move her to another house. Even village residents with the wherewithal to buy their own homes did not escape Gregg's meddling. Villagers who bought town lots from the company confronted a total abstinence clause in their deeds; on at least one occasion, in 1854, Gregg exercised his right to force a homeowner to surrender the title to his property because he had broken the drinking rules. Gregg replaced the title—with one that included even more stringent restrictions on the use of alcohol.67
Gregg's vision was compromised in other ways. He established a sick fund to help workers pay doctor bills, but child mortality rates remained high. In 1851 there were forty-three births and twenty-eight child deaths. Hog pens, cow lots, and open privies were abundant. Despite landscaping that directed the runoff from rain into canals, malaria was a common problem. In the 1850s, one mill superintendent attempted to blunt its spread by burning sulfur in the streets day and night. Outbreaks of measles and scarlet fever were credited with causing a high death rate in 1855. Meanwhile, school and church attendance remained low. In the first few years, and after less-than-gentle persuasion, only 60 of the community's 100 six- to twelve-year-olds were enrolled in Gregg's school. After Gregg died in 1867, village residents asked the new company president to end the policy of compulsory education for children under age twelve. Church attendance was similarly sluggish. The Methodist church, which Gregg attended when he was in Graniteville, had 103 members in 1849, at a time when the village population was more than 900; the diminutive Baptist church had a congregation of similar size. A resident of Blue Row, asked by Croswell in 1854 if he was a member of a church, said, “I was before I came here.”68
At one point Gregg was attacked anonymously in the state's newspapers for his company's long working hours, and he was hammered on this point during an unsuccessful run for the South Carolina state senate in 1853. One longtime worker at Graniteville recalled that he started work at 6:00 a.m. and quit eventually.69 In 1857 a group of skilled workers went on strike briefly, demanding higher wages. Turnover was high: only 28 of the 170 heads of households living in Graniteville in 1850 were still there by 1860; only 16 of those included eligible members of the workforce.70
Gregg built a Gothic Revival world for his workers, yet he remained firmly within the classical revival world of the white elite. The house he occupied in Charleston, which still stands, was loosely Georgian in design. In 1847, he built a new Greek Revival house for himself three miles from Graniteville. Named Kalmia—for the genus of the mountain laurel—it looked like a classic plantation master's Big House, complete with a two-story pedimented porch supported by Ionic columns and surrounded by terraced gardens and a peach orchard. While his workers were subjected to the Gothic ministrations of Upjohn and White, Gregg attended church beneath the Greek portals of St. Thaddeus.71
The mill operated throughout the Civil War, but the village became run-down. Residents asserted themselves by operating stills, firing guns in public, tearing down fences, and unhinging gates; one house mysteriously burned to the ground. Gregg, agitated by all of this, worried aloud that Graniteville was in danger of losing the “better class” of people he had worked so hard to attract.72 He died in 1867 of pneumonia, contracted when he waded into waist-deep water to repair a broken dam at his mill. This parting shot of Gregg, hip deep in a roaring stream, provides an appropriately fitting symbol of his attempts to control overwhelming forces.
In choosing the Gothic Revival style for his mill village, Gregg signaled his belief that he could use the built environment to develop a white working class whose members would be financially secure and self-improving in ways that would strengthen rather than loosen their racial bond with the white planter class. In Gregg's hands, style was elevated to a creed: his workers would learn from their environment to be conscientious, hardworking, sober, and aspirational. Those qualities, Gregg thought, would create a new class of white people—landless, but financially stable—who would educate their children in a way that would further widen the social chasm between white factory workers and enslaved African Americans, thereby increasing support for slavery among those who least benefited from it financially. He would subtly alter the status quo, creating a new but still subservient class of white, rural factory workers.73
Gregg did succeed in building a predominantly white working-class town: the total population of Graniteville in 1851 was 881, of which 85 were black laborers who lived on the outskirts, probably in Woolley Town—this at a time when enslaved blacks outnumbered whites in the surrounding area by a wide margin.74 Two years before John Ruskin championed the Gothic Revival's Christian egalitarianism in his 1849 Seven Lamps of Architecture, William Gregg used the style to send different signals: corporate and hierarchical; capitalist and stratified; racist yet modern. While segregated mill workforces became the norm—African Americans were barred from all but the most menial mill jobs well into the twentieth century—Gregg's architectural model for mill towns did not survive him. After his death, the mill's new president, Hamilton H. Hickman, oversaw an expansion that included the construction of new cottages to the west and south of the existing mill village—six new cottages in 1871 and an additional thirteen in 1872. None were of the “ancient Gothic style.” Rather, they mirrored the compact single-story workers’ cottages being built elsewhere in the so-called New South, as the region struggled to create a manufacturing base during and after Reconstruction.75
The Graniteville Mill name was retired by the company's most recent owner, Avondale Mills, in 1996, but the mill remained open until 2006, making it one of the longest continuously operating textile mills in the United States. A train collision and toxic chemical spill in 2005 crushed what was left of the town's economy (already crippled by mill layoffs). But recently there have been signs of life in Graniteville. In 2012 an appliance recycling company chose Graniteville as the site for its new plant, bringing a hundred new jobs to the town. Private developers announced plans to renovate the old mill buildings into mixed-used condominiums, targeting the recycling plant's new workforce and the other employers the town is working to attract. The goal is to create what New Urbanists call a live-work community, one that takes advantage of the undeveloped riverfront and canal. One of the developers, when asked about design plans, said of the old granite mill, “There's a beautiful plaza there, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the tables and the umbrellas and the shops.”76 If this redevelopment follows the model of other mill building conversions in the South, there will be little left to mark the history of the mill and the generations of workers once employed there. But the old factory will continue to look across the canal at the handful of Gothic Revival cottages built for the farm families who answered Gregg's call in 1848, and who asserted their own values by subverting in small but significant ways the ecclesiological lessons of his Gothic Revival village.