South Carolina

Olympia and Granby Mills – Columbia, South Carolina

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Olympia Mill is located in the historic Olympia Mill Village, just outside downtown Columbia next to the Congaree River. Granby Mill stands next to it.

Olympia and Granby Mills

Andy Hunter of North Augusta, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Granby Mill was completed in 1897 and was the first cotton mill in South Carolina to be powered by an off-site source of hydroelectric power. It was designed by innovative mill engineer W.B. Smith Whaley, who also designed and owned Olympia Mill.

Samantha Keisler of Lexington, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Olympia Mill opened in 1899. At the time, it was the largest cotton mill in the world under one roof. The neighborhood around the two mills (Olympia and Granby) quickly grew as workers were needed to run over 2,000 textile looms. Operating for almost a century, the mills finally closed their doors in 1996. They sat vacant for more than 10 years until they were renovated in 2007 to house upscale apartments.

For an informative overview of the buildings that make Olympia Mill and Village historic, read the Olympia Mill and Village Historical and Architectural Inventory (requires Adobe Reader).

Olymia Mill and Granby Mill are each listed in the National Register, along with their surrounding villages.

Reflections on Olympia and Granby Mills

Contributor Samantha Keidler tells us: “This is one of my favorite shots of that day. I didn’t even realize the way the sun was hitting it until I got home and uploaded my pictures. It made me think of the clock tower in Back to the Future as soon as I saw it.”

Photographer Andy Hunter goes on to say: “I’ve always been impressed by the Granby and Olympia Mills in Columbia, and just took a few minutes on a recent visit to Columbia to snap this shot.”

Add your own reflections here.

Olympia and Granby Mills Info

Address: 510 and 600 Heyward Street, Columbia, SC 29201
GPS Coordinates: 33.982955,-81.037451

Olympia and Granby Mills Map

Olympia and Granby Mills – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Olympia and Granby Mills, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

8 Comments about Olympia and Granby Mills

Randall RussNo Gravatar says:
November 10th, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Is the comment by John Ellinger, on Oct. 26, 2017, in reference to my comment? If so, how can we further communicate? Per my comment on August 28, 2017, I have since learned (99% sure) that my grandfather, Ralph K. Russ, was working at Granby/Olympia in 1954. Anyone … what was the name of the mill in 1954? I am unclear about the name/name change.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
August 28th, 2017 at 10:52 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your family history in relation to weaving and mills – we really enjoyed that!

Randall RussNo Gravatar says:
August 28th, 2017 at 8:17 pm

My Grandfather, Ralph K. Russ, worked at Granby Mills. The information I have says he and my grandmother lived in house #2723 on Drayton. I’m not sure about the exact date, but it may have been in the late 40s or early 50s. I wish I could find more information about his life. I made my living working on Sulzer weaving machines in Chickamauga, GA and in Charlotte, NC. I love weaving mill history/pictures. Thanks for sharing information about this industry.

Cecil StevensNo Gravatar says:
August 20th, 2013 at 3:57 am

Glad I was born a lint head!

John ellingerNo Gravatar says:
October 26th, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Hey I think I may know who you are

Cynthia Keefe BooneNo Gravatar says:
June 5th, 2013 at 11:19 am

I agree, James. Olympia was a great place! My grandmother retired from the mill after 44 years, and I’m a 3rd generation lint head!

Mike MedlinNo Gravatar says:
February 20th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

The people who lived there cared about one another.

James CookNo Gravatar says:
December 20th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Olympia was a great place to grow up. My mother worked in the Olympia Mills, and growing up in the mill village was great. Everyone knew each other and every parent had permission to keep us kids in line. Thank God for the Olympia I remember.

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