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Clifton in Spartanburg County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Clifton Baptist Church / First Baptist Church

 
 
Clifton Baptist Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
1. Clifton Baptist Church Marker
Inscription.
Clifton Baptist Church
This church, originally called Clifton Baptist Church, was founded in 1881 with ten charter members and Rev. T.J. Taylor as its organizing minister. Rev. W.T. Tate was its first permanent minister. Admitted into the Broad River Association later that year, it was originally a union church, also serving other denominations in the village at Clifton Mill (later Clifton No. 1).

First Baptist Church
This church, the mother of new congregations at Converse and Second Baptist, bought its building from the mill company in 1896; it was demolished in 1904-05 and the present church was built in 1905. It became the First Baptist Church of Clifton in 1937. About 1945 the 1905 bell tower was replaced in memory of the seven citizens of the community who died in World War II.
 
Erected 2005 by The Congregation. (Marker Number 42-27.)
 
Location. 34° 59.25′ N, 81° 49.254′ W. Marker is in Clifton, South Carolina, in Spartanburg County. Marker is on Hawk Hill Road 0.1 miles south of Cowpens-Clifton Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 551 Hawk Hill Road, Clifton SC 29324, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least
First Baptist Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
2. First Baptist Church Marker
10 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Clifton World War II Memorial (a few steps from this marker); The Pacolet River Flood of 1903 (approx. 0.8 miles away); Cowpens Depot (approx. 2.1 miles away); Cowpens Veterans Memorial (approx. 2.2 miles away); First Baptist Church, Cowpens (approx. 2.3 miles away); Early Iron Works (approx. 3.2 miles away); Welcome to Glendale Shoals (approx. 3.3 miles away); Pacolet River Heritage Preserve (approx. 4.6 miles away); Camp Croft (approx. 5 miles away); Marian Anderson (approx. 5.9 miles away).
 
Also see . . .
1. Clifton and Glendale Mills. (Submitted on October 26, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.)
2. 1903 Flood. Site is about the 1903 flood of the Pacolet River that struck the Clifton Mills and community (Submitted on October 26, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.) 

3. Clifton Cotton Mill #2 (youtube). Clifton Cotton Mill #2, Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC 12/13/2008. (Submitted on November 2, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Plans for Surviving Clifton Mill Worry Some in the Community
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
by Jason Spencer
March 10, 2008

The owner
Clifton Baptist Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, October 3, 2009
3. Clifton Baptist Church Marker
of the surviving Clifton mill has big plans — he wants to mine for sand along a small beach area just across the Pacolet River, eventually turning it into a park, and put loft apartments, maybe condos, in the sturdy old building.

Restarting the hydroelectric plant is part of his vision, too.

But David Sawyerís plans are mired in financial problems, and some people in the community are leery of a mining operation coming into their quiet village.

Still, he remains optimistic about the future of Clifton Mill No. 2, and his role in it.

“When the textile industry went offshore, we lost the means to help these people maintain their lives. Weíve done very little to help little communities like Clifton. Clifton Mill No. 1 should have never been torn down. Itís a sad commentary when we lose gorgeous old buildings,” said Sawyer, who turned 65 Sunday.

“Thereís so many neat things you can do with them. All you have to do is open your mind.”

Sawyer bought Clifton Mill No. 2 from Best Machinery Movers & Erectors — a small company headed by Dennis Goode and Ron Davis — on June 15, 2004, for $535,000. Goode and Davis financed the deal. But as of May 2007, Sawyer still owed the entire principal and, along with interest, taxes and attorney fees, a judge ordered him to pay Best Machinery $684,901.41 in
First Baptist Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, October 3, 2009
4. First Baptist Church Marker
October, according to court documents.

The property was put up for auction on Nov. 5, and Goode and Davis thought they had it back. But Sawyer had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Georgia (where he is from) three days beforehand. The sale was set aside.

Sawyer was then doing business as a limited liability company called Habersham Mill, which is now called Clifton Mill Lofts.

Habershamís bankruptcy filing was dismissed in February, as the companyís sole asset was the Spartanburg property and there was no record of that company being authorized to do business in Georgia. Foreclosure proceedings on the Clifton mill have resumed, and a hearing will be held Thursday in Spartanburg. The property once again could go up on the auction block.

But at the first of the week, Sawyer plans to file for Chapter 11 protection again, he said — this time in South Carolina.

He said he hopes it will buy him time to come up with a plan that will help out his cash flow and allow him to keep the property. Mining the beach and a sandbar in the Pacolet is a large part of that plan.

“Itís an asset of the property, and sand is a marketable commodity,” Sawyer said. “We do two things by doing this. We improve the river by deepening it, and second, weíll increase the amount of water available to us when we restart our
Clifton First Baptist Church and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, October 3, 2009
5. Clifton First Baptist Church and Marker
hydroelectric plant.”

Sawyer said he has a partner in Atlanta, a veterinarian, but would not name him, and that personís name hasnít appeared on any documents obtained by the Herald-Journal. At least one other man has been involved in the project, but he dissolved his relationship with Sawyer — which Sawyer said set things back.

Best for the community?
The land that would be affected by the mining operation is about 8.6 acres, according to the application Sawyer filed with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. He plans to replant vegetation over one acre in increments between 2013 and 2017.

The actual operation would be about 800 feet southeast of the intersection of Clifton-Glendale and Goldmine roads.

The state is accepting comments on the project through 5 p.m. March 18.

People who own property adjacent to the mill, such as Kevin Lee, have already been contacted.

“Iím totally against it — just the mess, and I donít know if these small roads around here can handle it. The tanker trucks that come through seem to keep the road pretty broken up, anyway,” said Lee, 38.

“I think this guy is trying to come up with any way possible to stay around. His intentions are not for the betterment of the community or anything. Itís just to try to stay put where heís
Clifton First Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
6. Clifton First Baptist Church
at.”

Goode and Davis are against the plan, too.

“We donít like the idea whatsoever. It really does not belong to him until he pays us, since he is in default. So, if thereís anything we could do to stop it, we would,” Goode said.

Davis added: “You canít come in and do it in six monthsí time. Youíre looking at three to five, maybe even seven years, and youíre going to have those trucks, the mining operation, the danger of children being around it. Itís just not a good place to set up a mining operation.”

ĎA great old elephantí
The one thing everyone has in common is they say they want whatís best for Clifton. They just have different ideas as to what that is.

“I think it could turn around down here and be a real nice area,” said Lee, who grew up in Clifton and recently moved back. “Itís a beautiful area. Itís just a matter of somebody spending some money and doing the right things to make it happen. And I donít think this cat here is the guy to do that.”

Don Bramblett, a community activist, hopes to see the small beach once again become a hot spot for the community to fish, swim or rest in the sun. Crime got out of control a few years ago, and the beach has largely been closed off, although itís still easy enough to get to.

“People out here canít
Clifton First Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
7. Clifton First Baptist Church
afford to pay dues at a neighborhood pool or Spartanburg Country Club. Theyíve got to have access to a place to recreate. I know Spartanburg County is trying to build more parks, but we have nothing out here. We have nothing. If we could — and this is private property, I know — but there is a lot of interest in people kayaking and canoeing thatís just been generated over the last couple of years. So, Iíd like to see that nurtured and grow into something nicer,” Bramblett said.

“Mr. Sawyer Ö had good intentions originally, but I think theyíve kind of gone sour. And for him to venture out into some long-term project, with a huge investment of money, when on the surface it looks like thereís a lot of other problems, itís somewhat distressing to me as a resident. Iíd hate for him to come in here and start doing things and leave it in a mess.”

Goode said if he and Davis do get the mill property back, “We really donít know what weíd do with it.”

And so, Sawyer is pressing forward.

He can tell you the history of the mills along the Pacolet back to the disastrous flood of 1903, and then some.

“This is a great old elephant, and we want to keep it alive,” Sawyer said.

“Our dream is to make residences there. I want to save the building. Itís a beautiful, historic building. I still
Clifton First Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
8. Clifton First Baptist Church
think this is the prettiest industrial building in the South. We have had no help from local lenders on this project. The people who we felt would benefit the most from it have all turned us down. You donít have to have a whole lot of imagination to see that lofts and adaptive re-use of a historic building could work. Itís worked everywhere in the country. But these folks are so near-sighted that they wonít help it come true.”
    — Submitted November 2, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches, Etc.
 
Clifton Second Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
9. Clifton Second Baptist Church
Bell at Clifton Second Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
10. Bell at Clifton Second Baptist Church
Ruins of Clifton No. 1 Mill image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
11. Ruins of Clifton No. 1 Mill
Clifton Mill No. 1 Dam image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
12. Clifton Mill No. 1 Dam
Ruins of Clifton No. 1 Mill image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
13. Ruins of Clifton No. 1 Mill
View of the ruins from the bluffs overlooking the section of the Pacolet River known as Hurricane Shoals.
Old photo of Clifton Mill No. 1 image. Click for full size.
By Clifton and Glendale Community Webpage
14. Old photo of Clifton Mill No. 1
Clifton No. 2 Mill image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 26, 2009
15. Clifton No. 2 Mill
Clifton No. 1 After the Flood image. Click for full size.
By The World's Work, Volume 14, 1903
16. Clifton No. 1 After the Flood
Converse Cotton Mill image. Click for full size.
Spartanburg, South Carolina by Jeffrey Willis
17. Converse Cotton Mill
Built on the location of Clifton No. 3, which had been destroyed in the 1903 flood.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 26, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,439 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 26, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.   3, 4, 5. submitted on November 1, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on October 26, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.   16, 17. submitted on November 2, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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