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The Old Dorn Mill Complex: A Real Gem

The Old Dorn Mill Complex: A Real Gem

"Courtesy of the McCormick Messenger"

By Marian Parnell

We, as a community, have a great history in this county. As history goes, we tend to forget about our roots and where we came from. Our past helps us to see what accomplishments we, as a county and town, have made and what we need to do to be a more viable asset to the people who live here and visit with us.

As a member of the McCormick Historical Commission, I can share that we have a treasure of history in our town with The Old Dorn Mill Complex. We sometimes forget that many people used this place for business for the community. The weigh station was where cotton, when it was king here, was brought and weighed. The cotton gin was where cotton was ginned and baled. These two places provided jobs and purchased cotton from farmers thereby providing sources of income for many county and area residents. These facilities continued to be used until cotton finally lost its way in rural communities of the county.

As a member of the Commission, I want all of us to know the importance of this complex because it needs to be used as an attraction for tourists, as well as for county and town residents. Working together, as a community, we can make that happen.

The Grist Mill is a beautiful old mill that once was a cotton seed oil mill but was later converted to a grist and flour mill in the 1920s. This old mill is the only steam-powered mill of its type in South Carolina. It is one of only two such mills in existence anywhere that contains the original steam engine and milling equipment.

Whoa!!! What a treasure to have here in McCormick. Yet, who sees this sweet old mill? Unfortunately, not many. We would like help in getting the Grist Mill Opened in the spring, summer and fall for tours so people could appreciate the history here in this town. The Commission is planning to be a part of the Spring Bonanza in April of 2012 and to open the mill and to have tours.

Costs to maintain the complex the way it should be will be substantial and funds for such a project are limited. We, as a Historical Commission, are a nonprofit organization. We are asking you as businesses or as individuals to partner with us and make a donation to the Commission to help us clean up and restore this complex. Your gift will be tax deductible. In addition, we will be applying for grants to help, but until these become available we would love to have you as helpers to save this vital part of McCormick history.

When and/or if grants become available, we would like to have heat and air added in the old cotton gin building. This would enable the Commission to make greater use of the building by having functions and events to serve the residents of McCormick and surrounding counties.

The late Kathy DuLaney was a very vital part of trying to preserve the history of this town and this county. She always wanted to see the Dorn Mill Complex used for education and as a tourist attraction for the downtown area. I, along with the help of others, hope to see this project successfully completed. It will be an ongoing process.

For more information, please contact me at 852-2418.