Lockwood Greene, the oldest continuously operating professional services firm in the United States, is an international engineering and construction organization based in Spartanburg.
Lockwood Greene, the oldest continuously operating professional services firm in the United States, is an international engineering and construction organization based in Spartanburg. The company traces its history to 1832, when David Whitman, a self-taught “mill doctor,” began advising New England textile mills about designs for new factories. After Whitman’s death in 1858, Amos Lockwood, a mechanical engineer, acquired the Lewiston, Maine, consulting business. He moved the company to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1871 and incorporated A. D. Lockwood & Co.
The company’s first major engineering project in South Carolina was designing Piedmont Manufacturing Company on the Saluda River, completed in 1876. Piedmont Mill, the first postbellum cotton mill in the state, became the prototype for mill construction in the South and helped begin the southern textile boom. During the next eleven years, its success led to other important South Carolina commissions at Vaucluse, Glendale, Charleston, Pacolet, and Pelzer. In 1882 Lockwood reorganized the rapidly growing company to include a partner, Stephen Greene, a university-trained textile engineer. Lockwood Greene & Co. provided a full range of services, including design, construction supervision, equipment ordering, and installation scheduling.
After Lockwood’s sudden death in 1884, Greene expanded and diversified the company. Between 1882 and 1901, in addition to designing Georgia Institute of Technology, Lockwood Greene & Co. worked on forty percent of all new southern mills and had thirty-nine projects in South Carolina. Among the most innovative of these projects were the 1893 Columbia Mill, the world’s first totally electric mill, and the 1895 conversion of Pelzer Mill No. 4 to electricity by transmitting power from the Saluda River four miles away. Business in the state was so active that by 1899 the company had briefly opened its first branch office, in Greenville.
Greene died in 1901, and his son, a twenty-two-year-old engineer, inherited the business. Edwin Greene expanded the company into mill management and ownership, and in 1915 he created Greelock Holding Company with three divisions, including Lockwood Greene & Co., Engineers. By 1928 the textile depression had nearly ruined the company; engineering was its only profitable division. Greelock was liquidated, but twenty-one new partners purchased the Lockwood Greene name and engineering business and continued operating despite intense financial pressures during the Great Depression. They did so by diversifying. Among the firm’s major contracts in the 1920s and 1930s were the Atlantic City Auditorium (the home of the Miss America pageant), military installations, highway engineering, and newspaper plants. After World War II the company grew rapidly, with international contracts in Mexico and India, but it also continued to work on major South Carolina projects, including Spartanburg General Hospital, Spartanburg Auditorium, and facilities at Clemson College, the Citadel, Wofford College, and the University of South Carolina. In 1973 the company headquarters moved to Spartanburg.
With revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Lockwood Greene became a tempting takeover target. In 1981 Philipp Holtzmann AG purchased eighty percent of Lockwood Greene’s stock; in 1999 the company was integrated into J. A. Jones Inc. In 2003 it was acquired by CH2M Hill, a Denver engineering firm.
Lincoln, Samuel B. Lockwood Greene: The History of an Engineering Business, 1832–1958. Brattleboro, Vt.: Stephen Greene Press, 1960.
The Lockwood Greene Story: One Hundred Years of Engineering Progress. Spartanburg, S.C.: Lockwood Greene, 1986.
Wells, John E., and Robert E. Dalton. The South Carolina Architects, 1885–1935: A Biographical Directory. Richmond, Va.: New South Architectural Press, 1992.