Six Mile exploring historic house project

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

SIX MILE — Six Mile recently acquired a historic home downtown and approximately 8.5 adjoining acres, and town council already has plans for both.

“Both the park project and the house restoration project fall within the objectives of the formal town comprehensive plan, which references greenspace and historic preservation in our downtown area — a very important concept tying town planning back to the town comprehensive plan,” council member James Atkinson said.

Atkinson said the Dillard House, originally built by John L. Dillard, the town’s third mayor, was purchased along with the 8.5 acres prior to a recent auction of some downtown properties.

Built around the turn of the last century, during which Atkinson said was the time of the construction of Six Mile Academy, the house is located directly across from the historic bank property now housing Our Bank on Main Street.

Atkinson said the park project features some preliminary drawings submitted by zoning administrator Jimmy Hayes.

Both projects were recently presented for public input at a town council meeting, and council approved second and final reading of an ordinance permanently designating as historic landmarks the properties known as the Dillard House as well as the original site of the Bank of Six Mile.

“The house has an ornate design metal roof and restored, along with an adjacent park, could indeed contribute to the overall charm and appeal of our downtown, as has the recent restoration of the bank property across the street,” Atkinson said. “The park and the house are two distinct projects, both occupying the same tract, but these two ambitious and separate and distinct multi-year projects will both be pulled together step by step.”

As far as the Dillard House is concerned, Atkinson said plans call for the house to be restored to its early 20th-century appearance to the extent possible.

At least a portion of the house would be devoted for use as a town museum in recognition of the history and heritage of Six Mile and its residents.

Atkinson said several steps for the house project have been undertaken, that, in addition to council’s approval of second and final reading of an ordinance earlier this month to designate the house itself and bank building and property as historic sites, include a special charitable contribution and state exemption granted the town, requiring annual renewal with the South Carolina secretary of state for charitable contribution status for donations made to house restoration and first reading of an ordinance establishing as a non-reverting fund the house restoration project to ensure the integrity of donations and other funding so that unused funding under governmental accounting standards does not revert to the general fund at the end of any one budget year.

But Atkinson emphasized that all plans are currently in the preliminary stages and subject to further input.

“Be it the house or the park, these are step-by-step processes — the conclusion of which will bring a positive atmosphere to our downtown in line with our town comprehensive plan,” Atkinson said. “I can’t wait to see the final results of both one day, and I’m so glad that our planning commission, acting within the town’s comprehensive plan and with citizen input, had the vision of both historic preservation and greenspace for our town that ties in so well with these two projects.”

Six Mile Mayor Roy C. Stoddard said he is excited about the potential both projects bring to the town.

“The Dillard House is the only structure left in town from days long ago, and it would be a shame not to attempt to renovate it for posterity,” Stoddard said. “We realize it will take thousands of dollars to do so but are confident we can raise the necessary funds.

“The park will add another dimension to the quality of life in this town. We envision that it will take us several years to complete the project, and we are ready to start now.”