Located on Highway 101 North, Gilreath’s Mill is one of the few remaining mills in South Carolina that recalls the vital tradition of rural industry.
History of the Mill
The mill is a two and one-half story frame building with a steep gable roof. Its construction date is unknown. Tradition dates it ca. 1814 but the first contemporary account of the mill is 1839. Other rooms on the present building include two gable-roof sheds attached to the north of the original section. The water wheel, separate from the mill, is southwest of the structure.
Production of cornmeal and flour was essential to the people living nearby and therefore to the economic structure of the area. An example of the production levels of the mill is found in the South Carolina Industrial Census of 1860. Owned at that time by John Heller, the mill produced 1,750 pounds of cornmeal and 60 bushels of flour. Value of this annual yield was $1,750 for the cornmeal and $420 for the flour. Cornmeal and flour were strong commodities on a statewide level. In 1882, for example, Gilreath’s Mill was one of 720 grist mills in South Carolina producing 22% of all manufactures, second only to cotton products.
The mill was an integral part of the social and economic setting of the area. A means of procuring staple foods, Gilreath’s Mill was also a place where people could congregate. Listed in the National Register May 28, 1976.