Piedmont Historical Preservation Society Celebrates Acquisition of Historic YWCA Building

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The Piedmont Historical Preservation Society recently hosted a celebration of the purchase of the 1908 Piedmont Manufacturing Company YWCA building which is to become the Piedmont History Museum.

Over time, the building was the Piedmont Union Church ca. 1878, then the first YWCA in South Carolina built to be a YW in 1908, finally the Oliver House from 1954 to 2022, and it is soon to be the Piedmont History Museum. This structure’s history began about 1878 and is hopefully just beginning. With the coming restoration she will be ready to start on her next 140 years.

Over the past few years, the Piedmont Historical Preservation Society has moved from a small group supporting Piedmont history to participating in the revitalization of this Landmark Mill Village by saving our Women’s Building and curating Piedmont’s stories and artifacts.

“We are blessed to have much support as we began a new, but long dreamed of, stage in the life of our beloved town,” said Anne Peden of the Piedmont Historical Preservation Society. “So many Piedmont folks have worked, forever it seems, to bring new life and growth to our town. We thank you each and every one for your efforts over the years.”

“This celebration was for all the people who have worked so hard for Piedmont history and preservation: Don Roper and his family, Evelyn and Donna, who started our museum almost 20 years ago; the ensemble of volunteers and board members who work in the museum who are so talented and cover the many specialized tasks that we need; the Special Purpose District Board and Fire Department; our board member, Larry Webb, of KDS Properties, who is restoring the Piedmont Mercantile Building downtown; the chairman of the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission, Jason Smit; our County Council Members, Jimmy Davis from Anderson and Rick Bradley and Lynn Ballard from Greenville; State Representative West Cox and new Representative Thomas Beach; State Senator Mike Gambrell; the Oliver Family who cared for the YW for nearly 70 years, Darlene, Danny, Diane, and Donna; the Board Members of the Greenville County Historic and Natural Resources Trust; the South Carolina Conservation Bank. We honored three special guests, Carlton Owen, chairman of the Greenville Trust and our benefactors, Steve and Susan Bichel.”

Peden said, “Last year several things came together to help the Society realize our goal of purchasing this beautiful building for our museum. The Oliver Family decided to sell the house to us at reduced cost. And we were able to apply and receive two grants from the Greenville County Historic and Natural Resources Trust and the South Carolina Conservation Bank. In the meantime, Steve and Susan Bichel visited us and offered a very charitable gift for which we will dedicate the house to his parents and aunt.
In order to make best use of our funds and follow National Register preservation guidelines, we have the aid of award-winning preservationist, Kyle Campbell of Preservation South, who has created a plan for the upcoming work and has acquired the construction estimates needed. He has guided the restoration of numerous structures in the Southeast including the Wilkins’ House on Mills Avenue in Greenville and most recently the Spring Park Inn for the Travelers Rest Historical Society which will soon open as their museum. He wrote the National Register application for the Piedmont Mercantile Building and will be supervising its restoration work. We will be applying for the National Register and the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission Recognition under his guidance as well. His expertise and oversight are required for these applications.”

“The key people that made this happen shared briefly with us that they trust the society to move forward with the plan to make this structure a show case and learning station for the Piedmont mill town restoration. Carlton Owen, a thirty-year resident of Greenville County, is chairperson of the Greenville County Historic and Natural Resources Trust. He helped get the Swamp Rabbit Trail going, and he is dedicated to his church work. Carlton spent hours working us through the grant process for the Trust as well as the State Conservation Bank. Carlton was recognized for all he does for preservation and conservation in Greenville County.”
“Steve and Susan Bichel have supported our work for several years now, and we are grateful to have their friendship. They are philanthropists supporting the Sigel Music Museum in the historic Coca Cola Building, Greenville County Youth Orchestra, Centre Stage, Greenville Symphony, Fall for Greenville and more. And Steve serves as chairman of the Greenville County Planning Commission. We thanked Steve and Susan for choosing to support our museum so generously.
Thank you is not enough to say to all these wonderful people for believing in the vision of the society.”

“These funds have provided us with the house and a start on the restoration that we need to get this structure ready to be a museum open to the public. Although the YWCA is beautiful as she is, we need to stabilize the exterior, restructure the interior, put in an elevator and other ADA accommodations, and many more things. We would like to have the exterior work completed by Christmas, so we can join in the planned decorating of downtown for the Christmas parade. And we would like to open the museum in mid- to

late-2023.”
Please consider helping with these goals. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the society accepts tax deductible donations to Piedmont Historical Preservation Society at P.O. Box 284, Piedmont, SC, 29673, or contact us on their website piedmonthistoricalpreservationsociety.org or visit our Facebook page. Email acpeden07@gmail.com or PiedmontHPS@outlook.com for more information.

(Photo by Paul Porter)