About Fountain Inn
Fountain Inn, formerly a commercial center for southern Greenville County, by the late twentieth century had increasingly become a
bedroom community for the burgeoning city of Greenville!!
The name Fountain Inn derives from an early nineteenth-century “inn with a fountain” (a gushing spring) on the post road mid-way between
the county seats of Greenville and Laurens. A post office established in 1832 was given the name Fountain Inn. Noah Cannon bought a large
tract of land south of the inn following the Civil War and opened a store, but no real center existed until after the 1886 arrival of the
Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad, which ran between Laurens and Greenville. Cannon laid out town lots and Fountain Inn was chartered
in December of that year.
In 1886 the town had three stores, a school, a Masonic lodge, and a Baptist church. Within three years the Baptists were joined by the Methodists
and the Presbyterians to form the usual church triumvirate of upcountry towns. By the early twentieth century the town had grown to over twenty
businesses, including two hotels, a cotton gin, a bank, and a pharmacy. Local investors joined the late nineteenth-century textile boom that swept
the upstate by opening the Fountain Inn Cotton Mill in 1898. In typical fashion, this led to the establishment of a mill village to provide housing
for workers. The village, with its school and churches, was located across the railroad tracks from the rest of the town. Other textile mills
followed, but Fountain Inn remained primarily a commercial hub for nearby farmers. Twentieth-century transportation developments reinforced
Fountain Inn’s prosperity, as the town straddled what emerged as a major north-south highway in the upstate.
The second half of the twentieth century brought a general decline, beginning with the agricultural economy, followed by the textile industry,
and compounded by the development of regional shopping malls. However, the rural decline coincided with an increase in the town’s population,
especially in the number of African Americans. The era also witnessed some loss of community identity as the high school was consolidated, the
local paper started serving “The Golden Strip” (Fountain Inn and her neighbors to the north, Simpsonville and Mauldin), and the local beauty queen
became “Miss Golden Strip.”
By the twenty-first century, some diversification of the industrial base had occurred and the completion of Interstate 385 to Greenville led to
considerable residential growth within the city and in the surrounding area. The interstate made it easy for many to work and shop outside the
area, and the increased population provided a base for revitalizing the downtown. Nevertheless, Fountain Inn still retained much of its small-town
character and charm.