The Monaghan story began before the turn of the century and for the next 100 years, Monaghan would operate continuously despite wars, depressions, recessions and foreign competition from imports.

Plant, its jobs and machines, its surrounding community of homes, churches, schools and athletic facilities were a way of life for thousands of people and their families. The company was incorporated and plant constructions began in 1900 as a joint venture of Lewis W. Parker and Thomas F. Parker, first cousins. Lewis was born in Abbeville in 1865 and after law school came to Greenville in 1888. He became a law partner with Harry J. Haynsworth, president of the Bank of Greer. Lewis learned about textile manufacturing through one of his clients, Victor Manufacturing Company in Greer, a firm that was going through some difficult times.

During the 1890s, several textile plants were built in the Greenville area. It was an era when many men realized the potential of textile manufacturing in the Piedmont section of South Carolina.

This movement was not lost on Lewis Parker who believed that cotton mills could make money if properly managed. He persuaded Thomas Parker to join him in establishing Monaghan.

Thomas Parker was born in Charleston SC and raised in Linville, NC. He attended the College of Charleston and later went to Philadelphia to work for his grandfather, Thomas Fleming. Fleming, a successful merchant in both Philadelphia and Charleston, had immigrated to the United States from the county of Monaghan in Ireland.

With the financial support of their grandfather and mentoring advice from F.W. Poe, Lewis and Thomas Parker established the new plant along the Reedy River, 325 acres just west of downtown Greenville, and named it for their grandfather’s native Irish county.

Thomas Parker became president and Lewis was named treasurer. The company capitalized at $450,000 and began with 35,000 spindles. When the plant opened, a worker was paid $.25 a day.

Lockwood, Greene and Co. drew the plans for Monaghan and its village and included in those plans a medical clinic, recreation areas and the first industrial UYMCA in the South. It cost $18,000. The Victor Construction Company built the four-story plant. The general contractor was Jefferson Davis Case. Thomas Parker even hired Harlan Kelsey, a landscape designer from Boston to beautify Monaghan. Dr. Fletcher Jordan was hired as the clinic physician and a visiting nurse cared for homebound mothers and children. I.E. Umger, a former missionary to China, was the first YMCA director.

By 1903, the capital stock was increased to $700,000 and the plant was enlarged to 60,000 spindles and 1,500 looms. The plant manufactured print cloths, fancy dress goods, shirting and shade cloth. The mill and its families were prospering. The YMCA needed help, and Mr. Umger hired Lawrence Peter Hollis in 1905. Mr. Hollis was director of the YMCA at South Carolina College (now the University of SC) and left Columbia to take the $40 a month job in Monaghan. Hollis soon became director. Monaghan had many familes and lots of children to serve and Hollis sought out the newest and best programs to bring to Monaghan, He spent 3 summers in YMCA headquarters in Lake George NY advancing his knowledge. He was determined to bring basketball, soccer and scouting to Monaghan. In 1907, there were over 500 employees with about 1,600 people living in the village’s 210 houses. –and 125 cows, too…

The Parkers and Pete Hollis shared the conviction that happy workers were productive workers and that a successful mill village must provide for the needs of its families—and provide that extra special something to keep the workers from moving from mill to mill. Greenville was well situated for workers to come from surrounding areas, from the mountains to the foothills in search of work. These were the children of hard farm life and many were anxious to try the new textile work as word traveled throughout the area of the many textile mills being built.

The cousins were excelling in their areas of interests. While Thomas Parker was developing Monaghan, Lewis became more involved with textiles by becoming president of the ‘Whaley Group’ of textile mills. This company included four mills in Columbia and two in Greer, known as Apalache and Victor.

He reorganized his holdings in 1910 and added other mill properties to form Parker Cotton Mills Company, which included Monaghan. Thomas Parker became vice-president of Parker Cotton Mills. The new company had 16 mills, a combined capital of $15 million and controlled a million spindles, more than any other company in the United States.

The mill village was certainly close to the city of Greenville and it blended the urban and rural feeling. Adult education and Bible study classes were offered evening at the YMCA. Activities included basketball, volleyball, bowling, a drama club; even movies and pool tables. Pete Hollis became the director of welfare activities for Monaghan.

The village boasted superintendent homes, overseers homes, a $10-a-month boarding house, a mills store and churches built by Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations. The Monaghan cemetery provided residents the opportunity to spend all their days at Monaghan!

The Parkers’ patrician ideal was not completely humanitarian; they hope to keep unions out by providing for the general welfare of employees. With all their efforts, the International Workers of the World formed a union at Monaghan in1914. There was a walkout over and a parade down Main Street. Lewis Parker and the workers came to a compromise and work was resumed after only a week.

The new parker Cotton Mills enterprise was short lived. Its size proved cumbersome and when the price of cotton fell dramatically at the beginning of World War I, the Parker Cotton Mills, with its new offices having moved to the Masonic Building on Main Street in Greenville, failed.

In 1915, Lewis Parker returned to his legal practice and Thomas Parker retired from Monaghan to begin a new career as a civic leader. Dedicated to improving the Greenville community, Thomas Parker was directly responsible for establishing a hospital, the Phillis Wheatley Center, and a library. The hospital, opened in 1921, was originally known as the Salvation Army Hospital, later becoming the Saint Francis Hospital. The Philis Wheatley Center opened in 1919 on East Broad Street. His early interest in bringing books to the Monaghan Community by truck led to the establishment of the Greenville County Library in 1921. The auditorium at the main library building downtown was named in his honor.

In 1917, the Victor-Monaghan Company was formed with M.C. Branch as president and W.E. Beattie as vice president. In 1920, Beattie became president but was replaced two years later by Thomas Marchant. Marchant named Arthur Cottingham general manager in 1931 and he served in this role until 1949.

During the 1920s, times were good. Pete Hollis urged the Victor-Monaghan Company to establish Camp Reasonover near Cedar Mountain, North Carolina. The company built a lake, a large lodge and a dozen rustic cabins for vacationing employees and Parker District teachers. At Monaghan, workers rented houses (equipped with outhouses until ’36) for$.85 to $1.10 per week. There was kindergarten for pre-school children, a baseball diamond, a golf course and a swimming pool. The old YMCA building burned and J.E. Sirrine & Co. was paid $50,000 in 1927 to replace the old building. Education was emphasized: children of workers attended state-of-the art Parker High School and graduated well-prepared for a vocational career or college.

Victor-Monaghan’s advertising boasted: Five, huge vine covered manufacturies of cloth and character nestling in Carolina’s sunny hills, hum today in the faithful production of products used around the globe. In the work-a-day world of commerce they are known as the plants of the Victor-Monaghan Company. In every piece of Victor-Monaghan fabric is woven the sunshine of a beautiful Southland and the smile of a happy soul.”

The Stock market Crash of 1929 startled the nation and began the Great Depression what would essentially last until the beginning of World War II. During the Depression, textile demand fell, workers were laid off and salaries reduced. During the early Depression years, workers were limited to three days of work every two weeks (instead of the 55-60 hours they’d been accustomed to) and house rents were reduced from $.85 to $.25 per week.

By the mid-1930s, most employees were working three days a week at an average rate of $.40 an hour. Monaghan fared better than most Greenville mills during the Depression because of its greater variety of loom and more diverse product mix of fancy fabrics.

Also, during the 1930s, Monaghan stopped being a cotton mill and began weaving fabrics from synthetic years. This was a major change as the plant would run mostly synthetic yarns from that time to the present.

Even in hard times, recreation and competition and community pride flourished in Southern Textile Basketball tournaments, high school and community rivalries in baseball, basketball and football.

World War II brought additional orders for cloth to Monaghan resulting in a return to full employment with two-shift, 40 hour work weeks. Many workers were drafted or volunteered for military service although second hands and overseers were deferred. Most of the wartime production consisted of twill and gabardine fabrics for uniforms.

Following the war, ownership of Monaghan changed again. In 1946, Victor-Monaghan Company, consisting of Monaghan, and the Apalache, Greer, and victor plants in nearby Greer were merged into J.P. Stevens and Co., Inc. Stevens had been Monaghan’s selling agent in New York for many years and had gone public after the war and with the money raised through the stock offering, bought many mills in the South.

A major change took place in the Monaghan community after the Stevens purchase. Like many other textile companies, Stevens wanted to get out of the residential real estate business and its expensive upkeep. Homes in the Monaghan mill village were sold to workers in a price range from $2,300 to $5,000.

In addition to mill homes now being owned rather than rented, there were three trends emerging after World War II that would affect village life. Television was rapidly being developed and it brought news, information and ideas that broadened peoples’ interests. Another trend was the 40 hour work week and more time for recreation and the third was mobility. It was becoming easier to own a car because of new credit programs and people could live elsewhere while working at Monaghan. The village concept as a solid and unified extension of the mill was slowly disappearing.

Another casualty of the changing times in the Monaghan village was textile baseball and later textile basketball. At one time, the textile baseball leagues and their games were the main attractions on Saturday afternoons. Rivalries with other mill villages were intense and players were recruited by mil management. However, textile baseball couldn’t compete with television, and the expanding recreational and social opportunities beyond the village boundaries.

During the 1950s and 1960s, there were physical changes at Monaghan as well. In 1954, the Monaghan School burned down to be replaced by the new Monaview Elementary School. The name was a combination of Monaghan and City View since the school was located between the two communities on West Parker Road. The YMCA building, built in 1927 by J.E. Sirrine and Co., to replace the original building that burned, was torn down in the late 1960s and the swimming pool had been closed many years earlier.

As the 20th century began to wind down, there were more changes in store for Monaghan. As more and more foreign cloth came into the United States, textile companies, in order to complete with low-wage countries, had to modernize their mills in order to increase productivity. This trend led to running Monaghan with fewer employees.

Since there was less opportunity for work at Monaghan, young people were looking elsewhere as Greenville’s economy diversified away from textiles. People moved out of the village and either sold or rented to people not connected with the mill. Many mill houses became run-down, were vacant or abandoned.

By the early 1980s, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority began remodeling 134 of Monaghan’s 340 homes and added street improvements at a total cost of $1.9million. In the early 1990s, the Parker Child Care Centers was built on a portion of the old Monaghan School site. Within the last few years, this building was remodeled and became a senor day care center.

After 42 years of J.P. Stevens ownership, Monaghan was acquired by JP{S Textile Group, Inc. in 1988. It became part of the JPS Converter and Industrial Division. In 1999, the corporate name was changed to JPS Industries, Inc. and recently the Division was renamed JPS Apparel.

In 2000 Monaghan workers celebrated the Monaghan Plant’s 100th Birthday. It was a major milestone, one not easily achieved in textile manufacturing. As a testimonial to longevity, Monaghan, Dunean and Judson were the only textile plants still in operation among the many that were built downtown and on the west and south sides of Greenville during the past one hundred years.

In 2000 the Monaghan Plant struggled to remain a modern and highly efficient world-class textile manufacturer. Advertising hopefully boasted: “Although on the outside the plant is a four-story landmark of the beginning of the 20th century, inside, Monaghan’s people are achieving, with modern technology, high productivity standards needed in the 21st century. With its employees dedicated to quality, customer service and innovation, the Monaghan Plant is ready for another one hundred years of successful textile manufacturing.”

In 2001 the 479,000 square foot mill fell victim to the new world-wide economy and closed.

In 2004 the building was listed in the National Register of Historic places.

In 2006 Greenville County re-zoned 17 acres for a $15million investment called the Lofts, a 183 apartment complex, complete with a private swimming pool just behind the old cotton loading docks.

The Monaghan story does not end here, it only changes. Families who reflect the Upstate’s changing profile are purchasing Monaghan apartments and homes and the Monaghan Historical Society is organized to preserve Monaghan’s rich heritage and to help revitalize the village.