In southeastern Greenville County, twelve miles from the village originally known as Pleasantburg, was a rich section of land between the Enoree River and its Tributary, Rocky Creek. From the earliest times, it had been known as Buena Vista. The origin of the name is unknown. This section was centered on what is today the crossroads of Pelham Road, SC Highway 14, and Batesville Road.
The land changed hands several times between 1810 and 1833. William Bates and Joshua Kilgore formed a partnership for a factory called, the Buena Vista Factory. Bates later opened another textile mill at the shoals of Rocky Creek called Batesville and the community was named the same. Five-pound packages of yarn were used as legal tender in an area short on money. Records from the post office show that between 1830 and 1860 around 400 people were in this area. Several structures dating from this period still survive: The William Bates House and one remaining house built for mill workers probably between 1812 and 1830.
In the mid 1840’s Mr. Bates became partners with Thomas Cox and Henry P. Hammett to form William Bates and Company. In 1863, the Batesville Mill was sold in confederate currency to a Charleston, S. C. group. With the collapse of the confederacy, the mill returned to Bates’ ownership.
William Bates died in 1872 and is buried in what is now the Ebenezer United Methodist Church cemetery. Henry Hammett continued the mill’s operation after his death. The Civil War and Reconstruction dealt a blow to the prosperity of Buena Vista. In 1879, the mill was sold to George Putnam, owner of Camperdown Mills on the Reedy River in Greenville. After his death, his daughter, Mary Putnam Gridley, assumed the management of Batesville Mill, becoming the only woman president of a cotton mill in the south. Mrs. Gridley successfully ran the mill until the early 1900’s.
The mill changed hands several times until the late 1920’s when it closed as a cotton mill. In the early 1970’s it became a restaurant, The Old Mill Stream. The Old Batesville Mill then became Fatz Café, which burned in 1998.
In 1830, Mr. Arthur Barnwell, native of South Carolina, had become wealthy in Pelham, New York. Mr. Barnwell bought the factory at Buena Vista and renamed the mill town and mill, “Pelham”. In 1880, he completed his home, a beautiful Queen Ann style house, across the river from the mill. The house, now a Bed and Breakfast Inn, still stands today.
The Pelham Manufacturing Co. remained in operation until 1935. After the closure of both the Pelham and Batesville Mills, the activity of the Buena Vista area began to decrease. Many former employees went to work in factories in Greenville, Greer, and Simpsonville. By the early 1960’s Buena Vista was a quiet farming community with few reminders of the industrial past.
In the early 1970’s a site on Batesville Road was chosen by the school district for a new elementary school to serve the burgeoning East Side. A district-wide contest was held in 1983 for the district elementary school students to compete to name the new school.
At Pelham Road Elementary, Mrs. Doris Hefners’s fifth grade class had just been on a field trip to the Batesville/Pelham/Buena Vista area. Mrs. David Ward, present owner of the William Bates House and local historian, guided them. After learning of the history of the area, Mrs. Hefner’s students discussed a number of names but picked “Buena Vista” as their entry for the contest. And in June 1983, the site officially became that of the future Buena Vista Elementary School.
Buena Vista was dedicated on Sunday, November 17, 1985 with Dr. Roy Truby officiating. It was a new beginning but its name gave it added ties to an eventful past of an historic community. Mrs. Judith F. Greene was the first principal of Buena Vista. She passed Away in January of 1993. The school opened with 650 students. The school faculty was combined with faculty from Brushy Creek Elementary School.
Mrs. Barbara A. Barlow, 2nd principal, served from 1993 until January of 2002. Mrs. Brenda Byrd served as the interim principal from January to May of 2002. In May of 2002 Dr. Ann Mohr was selected as principal of Buena Vista and provided leadership to the school until her retirement in June 2017. Mr. Dave Burgess was named the 4th Principal in Buena Vista history.
The current enrollment is approximately 870 students. Buena Vista has been through many changes, and it continues to grow and change daily as we strive to educate the leaders of tomorrow. We truly are "Someplace Special"