Olympia Mill

Also known as: Pacific Mill
500 Heyward St., Columbia, South Carolina


Olympia Mill

Photo taken by Joseph Hinson


Street View 


Opened in 1899, it operated as a textile mill for nearly one full century until it was shut down in 1996. Ten years later, it was developed as student housing for the nearby University of South Carolina.

From Southern Spirit Guide: Haunted South Carolina --

"As was common at the time, the mill operated using the labor or children as well as adults. Because of their small hands, children were ideal for certain tasks in keeping the looms running and as a result, some children were killed or had arms and hands mangled by the high-speed machines. Roger Manley writes in Weird Carolinas that since the mill has been turned into lofts, residents have reported the sounds of children crying and have seen small handprints appear in fogged up windows."

Olympia Mill stands as an intact example of late nineteenth century textile mill architecture. Constructed in 1899, the building is significant architecturally as an important example of the Romanesque Revival style applied to industrial architecture and as the work of important mill designers W.B. Smith Whaley & Company. William Burroughs Smith Whaley designed, owned and operated Olympia Mill, serving as its first president. Olympia was one of four cotton mills the firm designed and constructed in Columbia. The firms innovations in mill design contributed to the rise of the textile industry in South Carolina and helped to secure their position as one of the most important textile mill designers in the nation. When Olympia Mill opened in 1899, it was widely recognized as the largest cotton mill under one roof in the world. The mill is comprised of a massive four-story, red brick, rectangular shaped, main mill building that is connected to an original one and two-story red brick power plant. Other buildings that are part of the mill complex include: a one-story brick power plant auxiliary building, a one-story storage building, and two small brick one-story gate houses. Surrounding the site is the historically related Granby Mill to the west and the Olympia Mill housing village to the east and south. The main building contains features of the Romanesque Revival style with a red brick exterior embellished with terra cotta detailing, large segmental arched window openings, and twin pyramidal roofed towers that rise above the flat roofline. Listed in the National Register February 2, 2005. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 2, 2005
Reference number
Architectural style
Victorian: Romanesque
Areas of significance
Industry; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Manufacturing facility
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 5

Update Log 

  • October 11, 2018: New photo from Michael Miller
  • October 4, 2017: New photos from Michael Miller
  • October 17, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description"
  • March 25, 2013: Photo imported by Joseph Hinson
  • February 20, 2013: New Street View added by Joseph Hinson
  • February 17, 2013: Photo imported by Joseph Hinson
  • February 15, 2013: Updated by Joseph Hinson: Added photos and a brief history as well as a few links
  • February 15, 2013: Photo imported by Joseph Hinson

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