Our Great Town – Fort Mill, South Carolina
You are invited to explore the thriving community of Fort Mill, South Carolina. While retaining its small town atmosphere and charm of the Old South, Fort Mill has the advantage of being only minutes away from Charlotte, North Carolina and Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Take a walk through Fort Mill’s historic downtown and you can step back in time. Some of the buildings on Main Street date back to the late 1800s and provide evidence of the growth of the business district during this period in time.
Fort Mill takes its name from a colonial-era fort built by the British and a grist mill on nearby Steele Creek. The area has a rich history. The Catawba Indians made their home here for many years. Scotch-Irish settlers began arriving in the 1750’s and 1760’s, and a small settlement soon developed. Fort Mill grew rapidly in the late 1800’s as textile mills were established.
Confederate Park and the Bandstand are the dominant features of Fort Mill’s downtown. Both have been the scene of political rallies, weddings, concerts in the park and all manner of events that showcase life here.
About one-fourth of Fort Mill’s downtown is devoted to Confederate Park. The people of Fort Mill raised money to build a “Temple of Patriotism” to honor those who served in the Civil War. The first monument, dedicated to the soldiers of the Confederacy, was erected in 1895; the second, dedicated to the women of the Confederacy; a third for the “faithful black slaves,” thought to be the only one of its kind; and a fourth, topped by a young Catawba brave, dedicated to the Catawba Indians who served in the army.
That spirit of cooperation is still evident today. The historic Spratt Building, a former bank, is now Fort Mill’s community and civic center, where people can gather to celebrate with families and neighbors.
Faith is just as important. Fort Mill has many churches. One of the most notable is Unity Presbyterian Church, the oldest church in eastern York County. It was organized in 1788. The church is one of 11 buildings in the Town of Fort Mill on the National Register of Historic Places.
Much of Fort Mill’s growth is attributed to the railroad. In 1852, the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad first traveled through the area, stopping at the railroad station. Trains still rumble through downtown.
While fleeing from Richmond, VA in 1865, the Confederate Cabinet passed through the area. Its members spent three days and nights at Springfield, which is located on U.S. Highway 21. The last meeting of the full Confederate Cabinet was held at the White Homestead in downtown Fort Mill.
Textiles and the railroad brought prosperity, and Elliott White Springs — World War I flying ace, best-selling author, eccentric and Springs Industries patriarch – brought prominence.
Downtown Fort Mill is now home to thriving antiques markets, gift shops, restaurants, spas and salons and professional offices.
Year round, the residents of Fort Mill come together in downtown Fort Mill to celebrate with family and friends.
The first weekend every May, Fort Mill puts on Springfest, a family-oriented celebration of spring. This event is held in Walter Y. Elisha Park on North White Street. There’s always great entertainment, lots of locally prepared food, and children’s activities.
Fort Mill Thunder roars into downtown in late May, early June, for a car show family festival! This is held on North White Street and is just one of the events sponsored by Move Fort Mill Forward throughout the year. Over 100 car enthusiasts participate in the event. There’s also a display of specialty cars, live entertainment, great food and always something for the children!
Each Fourth of July, re-enactors man the still-working cannons in Confederate Park, firing off a volley that rattles windows throughout downtown.
Art on Main, a fine art and master craft festival, is held the second weekend in October each year. Artists and master craftsmen line Main Street to market their beautiful works of art! There’s a special display of artwork created by our talented student artists. Local non-profit organizations serve up food along with our local downtown restaurants and there’s live entertainment on the bandstand in historic Confederate Park!
The annual Fall Festival features trick or treating on Main Street for local children, as well as an opportunity to help children’s organizations.
In election years, the Last Chance Candidates Challenge is held on the bandstand in Confederate Park. This event, like the old-fashioned stump speeches of years passed, provides the citizens of Fort Mill the opportunity to listen, ask questions and get to know candidates they will be electing. All candidates running for public offices which represent the Fort Mill township are invited to the event, which is usually held the Saturday before the November election day.
Indulge in local arts year-round. The Art Mill located on Main Street is home to the Fort Mill Art Guild. Member artists display their work throughout the year and numerous special events held at The Art Mill are open to the public. On the fourth Friday of each month from 6 – 8 pm, there is an event at The Art Mill and you can shop and dine at many of the merchants on and near Main Street.
The Fort Mill Community Playhouse performs comedy and drama throughout the year.
Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps is a Fort Mill-based group comprised of students aged 15 to 21 from all over the United States. A world-class drum and bugle corps, Carolina Crown travels throughout the country and performs in front of tens of thousands of people each year.
Fort Mill now has a population of more than 11,000 and an estimated 40,000 within the entire township.
Among our many assets are numerous churches, an excellent public school system, the Leroy Springs Recreation Complex, the YMCA at Baxter, Paramount’s Carowinds theme park, five golf courses, numerous civic groups and a very rich history!
Just incorporated into the city limits is the Anne Springs Close Greenway – 2,300 acres of protected green space with 32 miles of horse and walking trails, campsites, mountain biking, a 28-acre reservoir for fishing and a nature center.
There are neighborhood parks all over town. The Walter Y. Elisha Park on North White Street has running/walking trails, fitness equipment and a playground.
The Charlotte Knights baseball team is also located in the Fort Mill Township.
If shopping is your preferred recreational activity, you’ll want to check out the shops and restaurants in our historic downtown area and all along Highway 160, from Tega Cay to the west of Fort Mill to the Indian Land and Ballantyne area to the east. Charlotte, NC is just a few minutes north on I-77 and Rock Hill is a few minutes south on U.S. Highway 21.
Highlights in Fort Mill’s history include:
- Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet passed through the area in their flight from Richmond in 1865. The last meeting of the full Confederate Cabinet was held at the White
Homestead in Fort Mill.
Fort Mill was the home of Elliott White Springs, WWI flying ace, author, industrialist and member of the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
- In the mid-1700’s Thomas Spratt and his wife Elizabeth were traveling through upper South Carolina in their >wagon. They spent a night among the friendly Catawba Indians and were invited to stay and live in the area on a large tract of land given to them. They became the first white settlers in the Fort Mill area and their descendants still live here. The same spirit of friendliness and hospitality still exists today.
Quality education is available in the area. The Fort Mill School District is one of the best public school systems in the state.
Nearby Lancaster is the home of the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
Here are some additional links that might help you learn more about our Fort Mill area.
York County Library
Town of Fort Mill, South Carolina
Fort Mill Times
Fort Mill Area Council of York County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Olde English District Commission
SCIway – South Carolina Information Highway
Come visit Fort Mill, South Carolina. Experience the charm and hospitality. You’ll be glad you did!