25 Aug 2010

Insider Secrets: Main Street, Greenville SC

I moved to Greenville in 1998. What drew me to this great place was the quaint and charming Main Street, lined with cafes, shops and delightful restaurants.

My first job when I moved here was located in a historic building right on Main Street.  I was somehow lucky enough to have an office with a window that overlooked it. On Friday evenings I would open the windows and listen as the Jazz music started playing in the street.

I remember when I first moved here, people told me that just three years before you did not venture out onto Main St. The shops were few and far between, but the same thing could not be said for the crime.  As a witness to a lot of this change, I am in awe of it.

 Some things about downtown Greenville that you probably didn’t know:

  • Greenville’s Main Street is Nationally Recognized: The American Planning Association (APA) designated Greenville’s Main Street as one of 10 Great Streets for 2009 by APA’s Great Places in America program.
  • Mice on Main: In 2000, as his senior project at Christ Church Episcopal School, Jim Ryan proposed the idea of installing a family of nine unique mice sculptures in places along Main Street. Zan Wells sculpted the bronze mice, each one with its own character and special spot on Main Street. He and Wells placed the mice in permanent places, creating a downtown scavenger hunt for children of all ages.
  • Poinsett Hotel: One of the very first skyscrapers constructed in Greenville, the Poinsett hotel was named after President Fillmore’s Secretary of War, Joel R. Poinsett. The hotel was built in 1925 and was erected on the site of the Mansion House, a resort hotel established in 1824. During the depression, the hotel kept its doors open, and charged a mere $3 per night. Unfortunately, the hotel did not fair as well when the textile industry moved out of Greenville.  Vacant for 13 years and on the verge of being torn down the hotel was transformed and reopened as the Westin Poinsett in 2000.
  • Liberty Bridge: This unique bridge not only offers stunning views but is designed to make those who cross it feel as if they are floating in the air. Ccompleted in 2004 at Falls Park, off of South Main St in Greenville’s West End, the Liberty Bridge has received international recognition and was awarded the Arthur G. Hayden Medal in 2005 for outstanding bridge achievement in bridge engineering, vision and innovation.
  • Reedy River Falls: The Liberty Bridge overlooks the Reedy River Falls, which on any given day is lined with children and families enjoying an array of recreational activities.  This same spot is actually where G reenville’s first European settler, Richard Pearis set up a trading post in 1768. He later built at this same location grist and saw mills, which became the center of early industry in Greenville.
  • Dukes Mayo: Two of the things that I have learned to be sacred in the south are sweet tea and Dukes mayo.  From a bridge on Main Street, you can see the shell of the building where Dukes Mayonnaise was first produced. Eugenia Duke, of Greenville, created Dukes Mayonnaise in 1917. This building, once referred to as the C. F. Sauer Building, is also on the bank of the Reedy River and is now called the Wyche Pavilion (behind the Peace Center of Performing Arts). This hollowed out mill building has become an event hotspot for wedding ceremonies and receptions. It is also a great place to view the outdoor classic movies that are played in the spring or listen to the live music playing on weeknights in the summer months.

When you talk to anyone from Greenville, you will immediately since the pride and passion we have for this place we call home. I am not a native but being a spectator to the wonderful transformation of this small city leaves me feeling pretty close to one!

By Amanda Serra

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