Former Celriver Employees and Supporters Establish Endowment for Local Students

October 18, 2018

Quick Facts

bullet point A new Winthrop endowment will support students who are descendants of people who worked at the Celanese Celriver plant.
bullet point Students who are from York, Chester or Lancaster counties in South Carolina are also eligible.
bullet point The Celanese Celriver corporate complex once encompassed 1,100 acres along the Catawba River and was one of Rock Hill's largest employers.


ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — A newly established endowment at Winthrop University will carry on Rock Hill's strong economic legacy anchored to the cherished Celriver plant.

Members of the Celriver Legacy Project — an effort launched in 2014 by former Celriver employees and supporters wanting to retain the memory of the Celriver facility — were instrumental in raising funds for the Celriver Legacy Scholarship at Winthrop and creating other initiatives that have since sprouted from the venture.

The Winthrop endowment will support two annual scholarships to students, with first preference given to students who are descendants of people who worked at Celriver and second preference to students who are from York, Chester or Lancaster counties in South Carolina. Eligible recipients can renew the scholarship if they maintain a 2.5 GPA.

Mack Bailey, a board member of the Celriver Legacy Project, said the endowment supports future Winthrop graduates who are critical to maintaining the area's economy, which thrived during the years of the facility's presence in the community.

During its 60 years of operation (1948 to 2005), the synthetic fiber manufacturing complex — which included a water purification plant, electrical power plant and wastewater treatment plant — became one of Rock Hill's largest employers and spurred a deep community connection among Celriver workers and their families.

"Celriver was an influential part of Rock Hill's economic fabric and it's important to preserve that history so that upcoming generations really understand how the city has been able to prosper for so long," Bailey said. "We must keep that economic momentum going with young minds who can acknowledge the past while developing an even brighter future," he added.

Other Celriver Legacy Project initiatives include:

  • The Celriver Legacy Plaza (beside the new Riverwalk YMCA and adjacent to the Giordana Velodrome) is a public plaza space built in 2017 on Celriver's former site, which is now part of the new Riverwalk Town Center development. The plaza includes art, large graphic displays, sculptures and other memorials dedicated to former employees, corporate sponsors and donors. Additionally, a historical marker was erected in June 2016 to commemorate the Celriver plant. 

  • In 2016, project organizers commissioned Michael Scoggins, historian for the York County Cultural and Heritage Museums, to write "A Miracle of Modern Technology: The Celanese Celriver Plant 1947-2005." The 113-page pictorial history book provides a timeline of how Celriver was developed, depicts how the plant operated and includes images of employees.

For more information about the project, go to their Facebook page or website.

For more information on this scholarship, contact University Advancement at 803/323-2275.


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