A success story and a tragic figure.
Those were the words used by the Aiken County Historical Society's general meeting's featured speaker, Dr. Jim Farmer, to describe William Gregg, a name synonymous with the community's history, on Sunday afternoon at the Aiken County Historical Museum.
Gregg's vision, business acumen and his indefatigable and unwavering commitment to improve the community's quality of life, will forever be his legacy.
The Aiken County Historical Society had originally scheduled the meeting for last month, but because of the ice storm, it was moved to Sunday.
The meeting was also an opportunity to pay homage to the site of the Gregg House, known as Kalmia, with the unveiling of the Aiken County Historical Society's 20th historical marker, a benchmark number realized after the group's reorganization in 1999, recognizing Gregg's influence and leadership in helping to industrialize the community with the establishment of the Graniteville Manufacturing Co. in 1845, the success story. But his vision to see a truly industrialized south would not start to come to fruition until 1880, 13 years after his death, the tragedy, said Farmer. Gregg was a merchant and craftsman, and his prescience would begin to build the area with his investment in the textile mill at Vaucluse in 1837.
Kalmia, was the name of the home and plantation of William Gregg, and the 17 room dwelling was made from black cypress, and the Greek Revival House that overlooked the Horse Creek Valley, was destroyed by a fire on Oct. 11, 1921. The name of the structure itself was derived from the mountain laurel indigenous to the area. Kalmia became Gregg's year-round home in 1854.
The marker was installed Sunday afternoon at the corner of Gregg and Richland Avenues.
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America's leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla. and interned at Thoroughbred Racing Communications in New York, N.Y.