Also, a picture of a 4 room house that has had an additional room built on to the rear, also taken around 1923.
The old hotel was closed sometime in the 50's and torn down in the early 60's. I can remember it still standing with the windows boarded up and being told by my daddy not to play around the old building. I also remember getting my tail tore up with his belt when I was caught inside it.
The mill was sold in 1936 to Walter S. Montgomery Sr. who owned some mills in the Spartanburg area and he made Tucapau part of his Spartan Mills organization. The mill had expanded and included a finishing plant, as well as a sewing operation. The mill started producing the Startex brand of linens and towels (You can still find them today on Ebay by searching on "Startex" or "vintage linens"). Anyway, when Mr. Walter, as he was affectionately called by the employees, bought the mill, he decided to legally change the name of the mill to Startex Mills, a Division of Spartan Mills because of the popularity of the Startex brand name. Then a few years later, around 1947, he changed the name of the village from Tucapau to Startex. To the best of my knowledge, the only two remaining things with Tucapau in the name is the Tucapau Baptist Church and the Tucapau Masonic Lodge. Below is an aerial picture of the mill and some of the village taken in the early 60's. I know this because the old hotel is still standing and in the distance you can see the original fire dept that was built in the latter part of 1962. As you can see, the mill is quite a bit bigger than the original building which is about 3/4 of the building in the foreground of this picture.
Mr. Walter made a lot of improvements to the "mill hill" including paved streets, sidewalks, a sewer system which allowed him to add bathrooms in the houses and a lot of other improvements to the houses themselves. Startex was a self sustaining community in that we had a company store that sold everything from toothpicks to caskets. We had a doctor who had an office in town and a service station for the ones who were fortunate enough to have a car. There wasn't many that had cars because they really weren't needed because, like I said, everything you needed was within walking distance. There was even a theater in the community building that also housed showers and a laundry in the early days before the houses had bathrooms. The theater part had already been closed down by the time I came along but I remember daddy telling of when he was a kid in the late 20's and early 30's. He said back then they showed the silent movies and there was a man that played the pump organ along with the movie. When there was a scene of the good guys chasing the bad guys he would be really pedaling that old organ and playing real fast music and when there was a love scene he'd play real soft and slow. Eventually, when the "talkies" came out they installed sound equipment in the theater. My brother tells of when he was a kid in the early 50's, he'd go to the Saturday afternoon matinee. They were all cowboy movies and they would show several movies every Saturday like The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Hop a long Cassidy to name a few. The school also held it's Christmas plays and graduation ceremonies in this building. Different clubs and organizations also held fund raisers in the theater such as a womanless wedding that was held to raise funds for the PTA. Below is a picture of the community building.
You can't really tell it in this picture but on the back side the building it is actually 3 stories and the community showers were on the bottom floor. The front of the building looks like it is 3 stories but actually the top 2 sets of windows were both in the theater section. It also had a balcony which is where the upper set of windows are.
Our little small village even hosted the President of the United States in 1980. Jimmy Carter stopped here in September of that year while he was out on his re-election campaign trail. He was here about an hour total. He took about 30 or 40 minutes to tour the mill and then made a 15 or 20 minute speech to all of the employees and citizens of the town out in the parking lot. There must have been 300 to 400 people present. It was probably the biggest thing that ever happened, or will ever happen, here. The mill closed in 1998 for the same reason that most all of the other textile mills in North and South Carolina have closed. Foreign imports.
The main part of the mill has been torn down and recycled. The bricks and heart pine flooring were sold to construction companies mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi. They were cleaned and reused to build houses because of their old antique look. The big 20"X20" heart pine beams were sent over to England to be refinished and sold to build post and beam houses. It was sad to see it come down and a lot of memories went with it but I guess that's progress.
For the most part, Startex is still a quite little Southern town where you can go to bed at night and leave the door open and not worry about somebody coming in on you. I can't think of any place in the world that I'd rather live.
I have probably 30 or 40 more old pictures of the village and the inside of the mill but this is already real long so I'll stop for now. I just wanted to share a little of my town with you.