About Ware Shoals

The Ware Shoals Manufacturing Company opened in the early 1900’s and eventually became the Riegel Textile Mill, which closed in 1984. Nearly 40 years later, the Mill’s impact on Ware Shoals can still be seen across the community. 

“Everybody that lived in Ware Shoals, pretty much, worked at the mill or was part of the mill or part of the mill family,” said Micheal Powell, a Ware Shoals councilman and chairman of the history and tourism committee. 

Community members said the mill played an important part in the town’s history.

“We’re very fortunate that the founder of the mill, Mr. Riegel, chose to invest in the community, chose to have these wonderful buildings built for the enjoyment and the education of the citizenry,” said Fay Sprouse, the superintendent for Ware Shoals School District 51. 

Some people credit Benjamin Riegel, the mill owner, with building Ware Shoals. 

“Mr. Riegel built quality stuff when he built it, stuff like this building behind me, other buildings in town, the mill houses,” said Powell. 

Some of the buildings are still in use.

“The high school was built in 1926, and it still serves as a school today, and it’s just as beautiful as ever,” said Sprouse. 

Inside Town Hall, people can find old photos and may recognize the building as the former mill company store.

“At one time, that was basically your mall. It was three stories, and it had all kinds of stuff that you needed in it,” said Powell. 

Across the corner is Katherine Hall, a community center that opened in 1913 and was named after Riegel’s daughter.

“It was the people’s amusement center. It housed a movie theater, and back in the day, it hosted so many stars,” said Sprouse.

There’s a community effort to restore Katherine Hall, and work could start in the next few years.

“In 2024, we’re slated to receive almost 3.4 million dollars from the Greenwood County Penny Sales Tax,” said Powell. 

Now, the mill is long gone. It closed in 1984 and was eventually torn down after a fire. Since then, community members have given the spot new life by turning it into a greenspace with an amphitheater, while remembering the mill’s lasting impact.

“The mill was the reason that Ware Shoals is and Ware Shoals continues in spite of the mill closing,” said Sprouse.

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