Spartanburg Methodist College
The vision of a Methodist minister who wanted to improve the lives of mill workers led to the creation of the Textile Industrial Institute in 1911 in a house donated by mill owner Walter Montgomery, and three years later, that school moved to a new campus on the westside of Spartanburg. TII grew and changed, and more than 100 years later, it is the beautiful campus of Spartanburg Methodist College.
David English Camak founded this college “to find, train, Christianize and place men and women to do the thinking for the five hundred thousand cotton mill operatives of the South.” The school opened with students ranging in age from 14 to 45, from more than a dozen SC counties. Camak devised an innovative schedule, rotating weeks at work in the mill and in class. In 1920, TII built its own Model Mill to make gingham and provide revenue for the college. The mill quickly failed, and ultimately became known as Powell Knitting Mill, now closed but still standing near the campus.
The longest-standing building on this campus is Hammond Hall, built with $30,000 and a train-load of granite from the local quarry in Pacolet. Students who attended school there in 1914 lived in a kind of a “lumber camp” in the nearby mill village of Saxon. The Buchheit Administration Building lobby now contains several historical displays.
The college, which now has an enrollment of about 800 in a two-year degree program, is still affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The full history of the institution is the focus of the 2007 book Common Ties by Katherine Davis Cann, available at the Hub City Bookshop.