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Fountain Inn, SC 29644
Farmers first settled the southern part of Greenville County during the Revolutionary War establishing not much more than a few churches. When the state of South Carolina built a stagecoach road from Charleston to Greenville in the early 1800s, an inn was established so travelers could spend the night about one day's journey from Columbia. This inn was noted by weary passengers for its copious and refreshing spring which became inspiration for the name Fountain Inn. A post office, a hat factory, and other businesses eventually sprang up until in 1886 the town was incorporated. The 1890s brought a grist mill and a cotton mill to the area, and a mill village grew up across the railroad tracks.
Among the famous residents of Fountain Inn is Robert Quillen, a journalist whose nationally syndicated column featured the wisdom of a fictional "Aunt Het." Another was "Peg Leg" Bates, a world-famous performer who – despite his wooden leg – danced for the English royalty and appeared numerous times on the Ed Sullivan Show. Still another was Art Frahm who created the merry colonial face of Quaker Oats fame as well as the Coppertone Sun Lotion girl.
When cotton-farming and textiles declined in the late twentieth century, industry diversified in Fountain Inn, and much farmland was replaced by subdivisions for the burgeoning population. The community retained, however, something of its small-town atmosphere. It honors its history with monuments and still celebrates "Aunt Het Day." The Library has been a major focal point for fostering this community spirit.
In the early 1900s the Village Improvement Society began encouraging cultural growth in Fountain Inn, notably by founding a library in a storefront on North Main Street. Unfortunately, in 1920 the hotel next door burned and took the library with it. Culture could not be deterred, however, for the Greenville County Library established a branch at Fountain Inn in 1926. Open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, it was located in storefronts for 40 years. Then, in 1965 the town bought property and the Beaunit Corporation donated a building for the library. The newest building – opened on May 19, 2002 and built with funds provided by Mr. Melvin Younts and an anonymous donor – stands on property where the owner of the hotel once lived whose fire destroyed the original library.