Old Brick Warehouse — Mullins, South Carolina
SC Picture Project | Marion County | Old Brick Warehouse
The Marion County town of Mullins is a farming community that boasts the largest tobacco market in the state. Since the late nineteenth century, tobacco farming has kept the community thriving, and for more than a century the cash crop was housed in this brick building, which was completed around 1908.
Tobacco auctions were held here and in similar nearby warehouses during the summer season, which lasted from July through October. This warehouse was doubled in size in the 1960s to accommodate the crop that grows so prolifically in the Pee Dee region. In 1978 much of the building was purchased by J.R. Battle, who bought the remaining property in 1982 from William Daniels.
The Battle family conveyed the building to the Town of Mullins in 2000. The warehouse continued to store tobacco until it was deemed structurally unsound. The historic building was demolished in the summer of 2014.
The Old Brick Warehouse, constructed between 1903 and 1908, is the oldest extant tobacco warehouse and is believed to be the first brick tobacco warehouse in Mullins. As such it is significant for its association with the development and marketing of tobacco in the area. The warehouse is a one-and-one-half story, brick building laid in common bond. The façade and rear elevations have stepped parapets. The windows in the original portion of the building are arched with radiating voussoirs and two-over-two sash. The windows on the façade light offices located at the front of the building – these offices are one room deep and two stories high. The remainder of the interior is open. The original portion of the building has a slightly gabled roof. A 1960s addition (right) has a flat built-up roof. All elevations contain loading and drive-in bays.
Reflections on the Old Brick Warehouse
Frequent contributor Bill Segars shares his personal experiences growing up on a tobacco farm:
“Growing up on a farm I have very fond memories of the tobacco markets and the life that surrounded this business. My first job at seven years old was driving a mule pulling a drag in the tobacco field. I not only learned from my Uncle how to drive a mule and when I could ride in the drag and when I could not, but I learned to do what he told me to do. It wasn’t my place to question him, it was my place to do what he told me to do. I grew up working and playing in and around the tobacco barn and the pack house. My best friends were the ‘totter’, ‘hander’ and ‘stringer’ who worked with tobacco. We would sit around the pack house for hours listening to singing, chanting, and tales told by the older workers as they graded and tied tobacco, always putting the best leaves on the top, to carry to the market.
“We never carried our tobacco to the Marion County markets, we carried ours to the market in Lamar. I remember as if it was yesterday: the smell of the cured tobacco leaves in the big market building mixed with the smell of pigs being cooked for sale as Bar-B-Q. The long line of shiny black Cadillac cars parked outside. I never understood why there was always someone standing in the heat beside each one of those big cars wearing a black suit with a black hat on. Then one day my Daddy told me that those followers were the drivers for the buyers. I thought that was the neatest thing, these men had drivers, they didn’t have to drive themselves wherever they went.
“Well all those days are gone now, so is the Old Brick Warehouse and the warehouse in Lamar.”
Old Brick Warehouse Info
Address: North Main Street, Mullins, SC 29574
GPS Coordinates: 34.206940,-79.255007