city of greenville culture
Historic Districts in Greenville
Pettigru Historic District
The Pettigru Street Historic District is located to the east of the downtown area
and contains 88 structures. The majority of the buildings were built between
1910 and 1930 and are of frame and brick construction. The district features a
wide variety of building styles, including the Queen Anne and local
interpretations of the bungalow and Colonial Revival forms. Many of the streets
are tree-lined, and the buildings have common setbacks. Historic District is
significant for its wide range of architectural styles, which mirrors the growth
of Greenville between 1890 and 1930. Once part of the James Boyce and Rowley
family estates, this area was largely unsettled until the turn-of-the-century.
Sections of the Boyce estate were subdivided by 1900 and Victorian cottages
began to dot the area. Several large tracts were bought by the Parker family and
they erected two large homes.
Residential development began on a large scale after the subdivision of the
"Boyce Lawn" property in 1907. This area between East North and East Washington
was divided into a large number of lots and new streets were established which
were named after the faculty members of the Furman Theological Seminary. The
district was also the home of many prominent businessmen and mill owners.
Recently there has been some commercial encroachment, and the Pettigru District
today is about half residential, half commercial.
The area is unique in the city for its evolution of styles from the Victorian
era to 1930. Because of the wide variety of architectural styles, the large
neighborhood was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
It is the largest historic district in the city.
Overbrook Historic District
The neighborhood of Overbrook began with the expansion of the Greenville trolley
line. The trolley line was extended in 1910 to its new terminus on the outskirts
of the city, an area that became known as Overbrook. In 1913, a group of
businessmen responded to the expansion of the city by recognizing a need for
middle class housing which could be supported by the trolley line expansion.
These businessmen, called the Overbrook Land Company, were organized by the
Woodside brothers of Greenville. The Woodsides gained fortune from the Woodside
Cotton Mill which was at one point the largest textile plant in the world. The
oldest brother, John T. Woodside was most involved with Overbrook.
In 1913, the brothers purchased land on the eastern edge of Greenville from Asa
A. Green for $7,500. In September of that year, the area was surveyed and
subdivided by architect H.. Olin Jones. Two years later a portion of the land
was sold to R.J. Rowley, a farmer. Rowley was probably the developer of the
first section of Overbrook. This area is dominated by Craftman Bungalow homes
which were popular during that era. Rowley sold land to the Workman and Leigh
real estate firm which sold to individual purchasers. Homeowners where
predominately white collar professionals.
R.E. Dalton surveyed another portion of Overbrook in 1917 and by 1922 Overbrook
Circle had been subdivided. By 1924 the neighborhood was fully developed. This
area was developed by Franklin Smith for "well-off" businessmen and
professionals and, therefore, both lots and homes were larger.
The neighborhood of Overbrook was one of the first suburbs of Greenville, and
attracted many people with its easy access by trolley. The popularity of the
"Toonerville Trolley," as it was called, continued despite the switch to bus
transportation around 1928.
East Park Avenue Historic District
Another area developing during the early 1900s was the East Park Avenue
neighborhood. In 1910 part of the W.C. Cleveland estate was subdivided for
residential homes. Cleveland, a former mayor and member of the South Carolina
House of Representatives, bequeathed some of his land, just south of East Park
Avenue, as a city park in 1887. This was to become McPherson Park.
The District is significant architecturally because of its many good examples of
early 20th century residential architecture. The Craftsman, American Foursquare,
Tudor, and Neo-Classical styles are most notable.
The district is significant in community development because of its association
with W.C. Cleveland. An early developer and public minded citizen, he bequeathed
a large area of land south of the neighborhood for a public park, McPherson
Park. East Park Avenue was subdivided about 1910, and reached its height of
development from 1920 through the 1930s.
East Park Avenue is significant in landscape architecture as a good example of
an early 20th century suburb. Retaining walls accent the hilly topography,
mature trees provide shade, and grassy lawns create a park-like setting.
The East Park Avenue neighborhood received its Historic-Architectural Overlay
Zoning protection in 1989 and was listed on the National Register of Historic
Places in October 2005. The city’s oldest public park, McPherson, is located on
the southern boundary of the district and provides a buffer between the
neighborhood and the downtown Central Business District.
Heritage Historic District
The Heritage Neighborhood is located in the West Park area to the northwest of
downtown Greenville. City Council designated the neighborhood as a local
preservation overlay in December 2001. The architecture of the area is a collage
of various styles. The most prominent is the bungalow style, with peak
construction occurring during the 1920's. There are approximately 126 structures
in the neighborhood.
The neighborhood was subdivided by William Choice Cleveland who purchased the
land from Dr. S. S. Marshall. Marshall had operated a large vineyard in the area
of present day Wilton Street. A dairy just south of the neighborhood also
operated into the twentieth century.
Upon purchasing the land, Cleveland subdivided it in 1909, although little
construction was done immediately. For a few years, the agricultural endeavors
coexisted with the coming residential development. In addition to the dairy,
there were working vineyards in the neighborhood where many residents also
worked. The proximity to the Women’s College also provided jobs to the local
The nearby St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral is the source of the cultural
history of the area. The church was organized in 1931 in a home south of the
neighborhood and made the area an attractive settlement to Greek immigrants and
later to families of Greek origin.
View Video of Heritage Historic District
West End Historic District
The West End of Greenville, located just across the Reedy River from downtown,
has a long and interesting history. Although settlement in the area (near the
intersection of Main, Pendleton and Augusta Streets) began as early as the
1830's, the real impetus for growth of the West End resulted from two events
occurring in the 1850s. Furman University was established in 1852 on fifty acres
of land in the West End, where it expanded and remained until 1958; and the
first train on the Greenville & Columbia Railroad arrived in the West End in
1853. These factors led to both residential and commercial development of the
area. The University attracted professors and students. Soon a residential and
commercial areas began to develop to serve their needs. Commercial development
accelerated during the period after the Civil War when phosphate and guano
fertilizers made it profitable for upcountry farmers to grow cotton. Cotton and
fertilizer warehouses sprang up throughout the area, as did other commercial
activities that supported the farmers from throughout the region. By the turn of
the century, the West End was a thriving commercial district, second in
importance only to Greenville's downtown. As the residential development
increased, schools and churches followed. Chicora College for women was
established in 1893 on an elevated site overlooking the river.
The first three decades of the 20th century brought a number of changes to the
West End. Textile mills began to be located outside the central city and the
earlier mills along the Reedy River experienced difficult financial conditions
from 1895-1910. Chicora College moved from Greenville to Columbia in 1915 and
its buildings burned in 1919. Commercial activity in the area shifted from
cotton to soft drink manufacturing and bottling, and the introduction of the
automobile led to the construction of auto agencies and repair shops. New office
and commercial buildings were constructed during this period as well to serve
what was still a very vital commercial and residential area.
Hampton-Pinckney Historic District
The area now known as Hampton-Pinckney was purchased in 1815 by Vardry McBee who
spent $27,550 for 11,028 acres of land in what is now the center of Greenville.
McBee had great aspirations for the little frontier village of Greenville and
played an important role in the city’s development. A true philanthropist, he
donated land for the Greenville Male and Female Academies and for the city’s
first four churches. The first house in the area was built by McBee’s son
Pinckney, prior to the Civil War. In the 1890s, part of the land McBee willed to
his family was subdivided into residential lots. Cotton growing, selling and
production were important to the economy as was the railroad terminal nearby.
Hampton-Pinckney became the first "trolley car" neighborhood in Greenville. For
more information, visit the Hampton-Pinckney web site
It was also a period of rapid expansion for Greenville’s textile industry. Today
the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District, one of the oldest in town neighborhoods,
has the most important representation in the city of fanciful, sometimes
exuberant dwellings of the Victorian Era. During the First World War, the
production of cloth for uniforms and other war materials kept the mill industry
thriving. The resulting strong economy paved the way for another building boom
in the early 1920s. The Hampton-Pinckney neighborhood was still growing, but
other new neighborhoods also began to take root and thrive. The district was
named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, becoming Greenville’s
first National Register District. In 1979 the neighborhood became the first
locally designated Preservation Overlay District.
View Video of the Hampton Pinckney Historic District
Colonel Elias Earle Historic District
Another of Greenville’s historic neighborhoods, known today as the Colonel Elias
Earle District, is closely tied to the history of the Earle family. In the late
18th century, Colonel Elias Earle, an early settler of Greenville, acquired land
to the north of town. In 1834 more acreage was purchased by the Earles along
what is now known as James Street. The David family, who owned the Earle Town
House from the 1850s through the 1920s, named the street and gave the easement
for its construction. In the early decades of the 20th century, thanks in part
to the Furman Company, this area began to develop, first with James Street and
then along Earle Street. Two of Greenville’s oldest landmarks, both dating back
to the early 19th century, are located in the district, but it was the 1910s and
the 1920s that saw a dramatic growth of the area as an in town neighborhood.
Architecturally, the district is important because it contains two of
Greenville’s earliest landmarks: the Earle Town House at 107 James Street, built
about 1820; and "Whitehall," at 310 West Earle Street, built in 1813 as the
summer residence of Governor Henry Middleton. Also of importance are many
excellent examples of early 20th century historical revival styles including
Neo-Classical, Dutch Colonial, Georgian Revival, English Cottage, and Tudor. The
district is significant in community planning as an early automobile
neighborhood. Originally part of the Colonel Elias Earle estate, the district
was subdivided in the late 19th century. By the 1920s, construction was booming,
with large houses being erected on large lots.
Side driveways, rear garages, and portecocheres all helped the neighborhood
accommodate the automobile. Typical of early automobile suburbs, houses were set
back from the road and had large, grassy front yards. The district was named to
the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, becoming Greenville’s second
National Register District. In 1984, the neighborhood became the second locally
designated Preservation Overlay District.