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Historic Fort Mill home could become bed and breakfast

One of Fort Mill’s most historic homes could get a new, though not entirely unfamiliar, use.

The home at Skipper and North White streets, built in 1872 by John White and recorded in 1988 on the National Register of Historic Places, may soon be zoned to allow for a bed and breakfast. A formal plan hasn’t been presented to the town.

“There has been some discussion of placing one on the property,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director.

Town Council passed the first of three readings on four ordinances March 9. Two would zone properties local commercial, for the almost 5 acres at Skipper and North White streets and for a third of an acre at Tom Hall and Springs streets. The latter would give the new Hardees parking lot the same zoning as the business. Another ordinance would add bed and breakfasts as a conditional use in local commercial.

The White home was a residence for decades, and held the first meeting of the Fort Mill Manufacturing Co. in the dining room. That venture was the first in what would grow into Springs Industries. The home was a residence for mill managers and others until the early 1960s, when it became a guest home for the company.

“Most recently it was used as a guest house for Springs Industries and then later for Springs Global,” said Ann Evans, Springs family historian.

A restoration in the 1980s, coinciding with work to put it on the national historic register, added two cottages named for Elliot White Springs and H. William Close. Four bedrooms in those cottages are named Fort Mill, Lancaster, Kershaw and Chester – communities where original Springs mills were located.

Bedrooms in the main home are named for prominent company and community leaders White, Leroy Springs, Grace Allison White and John McKee Spratt.

If the home becomes a bed and breakfast, it won’t be the town’s first. Last year the council annexed property at Sutton and Smythe roads, where the Barber family wanted to open one. In January, the Belle Crane Inn opened.

“It’s going well,” said owner Margaret Barber. “We have not got our website yet, but we have not had to.”

Belle Crane Inn is hosting small occasions, rehearsal dinners and milestone birthday parties. They’ve had book and garden clubs, knitting and business groups. Even school districts looking for a retreat site. Weddings are a common request, particularly from the Charlotte area.

“This is a place that’s unique,” Barber said. “It’s a home. It’s Southern. They feel like it’s a Southern wedding.”

Like the White home, Belle Crane Inn includes items from and a sense of Fort Mill’s past. That model is working well for one, and could be a positive sign for the other.

“People love to feel like there’s some old Fort Mill around,” Barber said.

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