18 October 2016

Historic Rice Mill building

Historic Rice Mill, Charleston, SC  
It seems a lifetime ago but these pictures were on my camera card immediately before the recent wind storm chaos when I walked out on the dock after a lazy Sunday brunch at the Marina Variety store. It's always fun to pretend you stepped off your yacht to have breakfast with your fellow yacht owners overlooking the water.

The building in the photo is the historic rice mill building which appears to be used as an event and wedding space now.
West Point MillToday, the four-story Classic Revival mill building is obscured by heavily-trafficked bridge approaches, clusters of modern buildings, parking lots, and rows of yachts, but once it stood alone as one of the city’s most industrious endeavors.West Point was a small sliver of land protruding into the Ashley River in the 1830’s, when a steam-driven rice mill was built and powered by water from large areas of man-made pond. An 1859 fire destroyed the mill, which was replaced one year later with a structure that housed giant boilers and massive cylindrical shafts for grinding and brushing kernels into polished rice and flour. The 15-acre complex included separate shipping wharves, carpenters’ sheds and cooperage facilities, as well as new artesian wells for water supply. For more than half a century, the West Point mill was among America’s largest and most productive, annually cranking out hundreds of thousands of barrels, and when a foundering rice business finally forced the facility to close in 1926, much of the oversized inventory was bought by Henry Ford for display at his Edison Institute antique museum in Dearborn, Michigan.In the late 1930’s, remnants of the old mill ponds were dredged for a municipal yacht basin and planned as the site of a transatlantic seaplane terminal in an agreement made by the city with the German Air Ministry, but the coming of World War II shot the project down. The abandoned building remains Charleston’s only completely intact rice mill, and has been used for Chamber of Commerce headquarters, a restaurant and city marina offices, and the old mill pond area now supports high-rise condominiums and hotels, and approaches to Ashley River bridges, where the watery foundation is still evident in an undulating roadway surface.