The Orr Monument was never a tombstone, but a cenotaph, or memorial, to Colonel James L. Orr, son of South Carolina Governor James L. Orr. Colonel Orr was an Anderson native, the founder and president of Orr Cotton Mills, and a well known philanthropist of his era. Colonel Orr supported the building of an experimental hydro-electric plant at High Shoals. With the success of the first ever long distance transmission of electricity from this plant, Colonel Orr continued to support the effort to electrify both homes and businesses in Anderson.
In 1905, the obelisk was placed beside the Orr Cotton Mills on South Main Street and surrounded by wrought iron fencing. On the granite face, his monogram "JLO" is artfully intertwined with his epitaph. The obelisk was a favorite symbol for Victorian funeral art and memorials because it represented eternal life. An important features of this monument is the broken top of the obelisk. This was done deliberately to represent 'a life cut short." The Orr Monument stood at the original Orr Cotton Mills site until it was damaged during a storm in 2008. For its continued preservation, the monument was moved to this location. The large graphic behind the monument is Orr Cotton Mills in its most prominent era of production.