Saturday, March 24, 2007

Swansea Milling Company

Cruising through Lexington County, SC, we encountered the Swansea Milling Company at Swansea, SC. Swansea Milling was founded in 1947 and is today still engaged in milling operations. They formulate the VERIBEST brand of animal feed.

Swansea Milling is joined by Champion International, Culler Holstein Gin, G & H. Paulownia Plantation, Heartsease Farm Rental, Manuel Forest Products in related industrial fields. It's a small town, but clearly not without multiple enterprises. Swansea seems poised for the downtown renovation which has come to other towns in rural South Carolina. Many of these towns had more or less died at their downtown center. The atrophy caused by commercial suburban sprawl and large discount retailers is more than obvious in the majority of our smaller towns.

Swansea has partially renovated several rows of commercial buildings in its downtown area. They are ready and seem almost like passengers waiting on a train. There are signs of previous attempts at recusation of the district, but changes in layout suggest that they've learned from these mistakes. Unlike the fatalism of so many fully dead small towns, Swansea seems in strong hope of a revival. Part of the downtown has been made most hospitable and pedestrian friendly. There is a nice pharmacy with an old fashioned motif. Lots of benches and tables have been put outdoors. We even encountered a small pack of skateboarders which is something you don't see often in the dead towns.

We may see a lot of recovery in Swansea, but it's a fairly sure thing that Swansea Milling is not going to spring for a full makeover with cute landscaping and a new high-rise corporate center with anodized aluminum window frames. Whether the break the bank or go bust trying, they seem unlikely to radically alter the design or appointments to their current building. We love to see new life come back into small communities, but cherish such old places as Swansea Milling which preserve the character of the town.


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