Tuxedo was called Lakewood until it was renamed to avoid confusion with another Lakewood. The Bell family history states that Joe Bell’s wife, Lillas Durham Bell, suggested the name Tuxedo from a New York park by that name.
The community of Tuxedo began to thrive around 1907-1910 when the Green River Manufacturing Company was built. The founding father of the mill was Mr. Joseph O. Bell. Bell, who was also an original trustee of the First Baptist Church, school committeeman, local magistrate, early post master and eventually state senator.
Mr. Bell built a small lake to use for water power for his manufacturing company, it was the county’s first factory using water power. This was not today’s Lake Summit. The Green River Manufacturing Company was the most prosperous in Henderson County, by 1915. The plant operated up to date equipment and employed around 250 employees.
When a group of businessmen from Spartanburg, SC needed more power for their mills, they bought land to build two dams along Green River in Polk County; one formed Lake Summit; the other formed Lake Adger.
The Green River Manufacturing Company suffered serious losses in the 1930’s. A union was formed in 1955 and demanded higher wages, Mr. Boys, the owner at the time, attempted to negotiate, but could not reach an agreement, so in 1958 the plant closed and reopened as JP Stevens Company. West Point Pepperell bought the plant in 1988 and operated it until it closed in 1990. Approximately 250 people lost their jobs. Brittain and Sons operated a recycling plant with a small number of employees until 2006.
Summer camps for boys and girls began to develop around Lake Summit in the early 1920’s, Camp Greystone for girls (1920) and Camp Mondamin for boys (1922). In later years a number of other camps were formed including Green Cove, Camp Glen Arden, Camp Arrowhead, Camp Windy Wood, Falling Creek, and Green River Nature Preserve.
The community of Zirconia was named for the zircon mines once operated there. The Zircon mines were a thriving business until Throia replaced Zirconium as a source for the incandescent light. Thomas Edison spent two days in the community.
The Lake Summit Playhouse opened in 1948 by Robroy Farquhar near Lake Summit. The Playhouse changed it’s name in 1952 to the Vagabond School of Drama and moved to the Flat Rock, to become the Flat Rock Playhouse.
Today, Lake Summit covers about 300 acres with approximately 10 miles of shoreline. The main tributary for the lake is the Green River. Duke Energy generates power from their hydroelectric plant located at the eastern end of the lake.
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