African-American Cultural Sites in #yeahTHATgreenville
NOTE: The following list is (as much as possible) organized from north to south geographically, so first cultural sites in the City of Greenville will show, then Simpsonville, and then the town of Fountain Inn.
400 Rutherford Road, Greenville, SC 29609
This is a historic African-American community founded by Benjamin Bruton, a mulatto Freedman in 1874. He built a house and blacksmith shop. Others — a few of them tradesmen like Bruton, but most tenant farmers — soon moved to this area. By 1880, there were 60 African-American families in the area. By 1921, the community had its first church, Bruton Temple Baptist Church. The antebellum three-acre “Society Burial Ground” includes many graves of slaves, free blacks, and Freedmen.
Marker erected by the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority, 2009.
2. Matoon Presbyterian Church
415 Hampton Avenue, Greenville, SC 29601
This church is a part of the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District and is in one of Greenville’s oldest neighborhoods. The congregation was organized in 1878 and this building was constructed in 1887. The ground floor originally held a parochial school for African-American students in the first through the ninth grades, which had been discontinued by 1930.
CALL: (864) 235-4499
3. Claussen Bakery
400 Augusta Street, Greenville, SC 29601
In February 1967, 22 African-American employees went on strike to protest discrimination in hiring and promotion practices at the company. The Greenville branch of the NAACP called for a boycott of Claussen baked goods in protest. Jesse Jackson, then working as director of SCLC’s Operation Breadbasket, helped bring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Greenville (April 30, 1967). King preached economic justice and support for the Claussen workers who “had been called boys…then they stood up like men.”
Marker sponsored by Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood, and the Greenville Branch of the NAACP, 2016.
4. Richland Cemetery
8363 Sunflower Street, Greenville, SC 29601
This 6-acre cemetery in the Greenline-Spartanburg neighborhood.was established by the City of Greenville in 1884 as the first municipal cemetery for African-Americans. It was named for nearby Richland Creek. The establishment of the cemetery led to the development of a self-sustaining African-American community in downtown Greenville. The cemetery has over 1,400 graves and is the final resting place of many of Greenville’s most notable African-American educators, health practitioners, and community leaders. The cemetery also features a variety of landscape features, funerary art, and cultural artifacts that distinguish it as a traditional African-American cemetery.
5. Sterling High School
1 North Calhoun Street, Greenville, SC 29601
Founded in 1896 by Rev. D.M. Minus and called Greenville Academy, this school was first located in West Greenville. In 1902, it moved and was then renamed Sterling Industrial College after Mrs. E.R. Sterling, who had financed Rev. Minus’s education at Claflin University. The school closed briefly, but reopened in 1915 as Enoree High School. In 1929, it was bought by the county school district and renamed Sterling. The building burned down in September 1967.
Marker erected by the Greenville County Historical Commission and the Sterling High School Association, 2007.
6. Springfield Baptist Church
600 E. McBee Avenue, Greenville, SC 29601
This is the oldest black Baptist congregation in downtown Greenville. It was founded in 1867 by members of Greenville Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church), which had been a combined congregation of whites and blacks before the Civil War. Rev. Gabriel Poole, known as “Father Poole,” was its first pastor. The new church worshiped in First Baptist Church until it built its own church on this site in 1872. Springfield Baptist Church hosted many significant meetings during the Civil Rights Movement. The 1959 church burned in 1972 and was replaced by the present church in 1976.
Marker sponsored by the congregation, 2013.
7. John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church
101 East Court Street, Greenville, SC 29601
Built c. 1899-1903, this church was organized soon after the Civil War by Rev. James R. Rosemond. Although born a slave in Greenville in 1820, Rosemond had been allowed to preach at churches before the Civil War. After the war, he organized 50 Methodist Episcopal churches in the Upstate, this being one of the earliest. The architecture is an excellent example of Gothic Revival church architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
8. Working Benevolent Society Hospital
201 Jenkins Street, Greenville, SC 29601
This hospital, first known as St. Luke Colored Hospital, was a two-story frame building. Founded in 1920, it served patients for 28 years. A registered nurse and a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, Mrs. M.H. Bright was the hospital’s first superintendent.
Marker erected by the Green Avenue Area Civic Association, 2003.
9. Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church
109 Green Avenue, Greenville, SC 29601
Organized during Reconstruction as a mission church, this building (built 1929-30) is significant as an excellent example of early 20th century Classical Revival ecclesiastical design by Juan Benito Molina, a Cuban-born and educated architect, the only black architect practicing in Greenville, SC during this time.
10. The Lynching of Willie Earle
398 Old Bramlett Rd, Greenville, SC 29611
This is the last recorded lynching in South Carolina and the South. On the night of February 15, 1947, white cabdriver Thomas W. Brown was found mortally wounded beside his cab. Earle, a young black man, was thought to be Brown’s last passenger. He was arrested, accused, and held in the Pickens County Jail. Early on February 17, 1947, a white mob took Earle out of the jail, drove him to Greenville and lynched him. Although rare for the era, 31 men were accused and the trial that was held in May drew national attention. Twenty-six men admitted being part of the mob, still an all-white jury acquitted all defendants.
Marker erected by the Willie Earle Commemorative Trail Committee, 2010.
11. Cedar Grove Baptist Church &
206 Moore Street, Simpsonville, SC 29681
The Reedy River Baptist Association built a school for the African-American children of Simpsonville and other area communities on this site in 1891-92. In 1923-24, the Simpsonville Rosenwald School, an eight-room elementary and high school, was built nearby.
Marker sponsored by the Greenville County Council and the Greenville Health System, 2012.
12. Old Pilgrim Baptist Church &
Old Pilgrim Rosenwald School
3540 Woodruff Rd, Simpsonville, SC 29681
This church was founded in 1868 by black members of nearby Clear Spring Baptist Church. Rev. John Abraham, their first pastor, held services in a brush arbor until a log church was built on this site. In 1894, it took its current name. Old Pilgrim Rosenwald School, named for the church, was built in 1930. The school operated until 1954, with three teachers responsible for as many as 83 elementary school students in grades 1-7.
Marker sponsored by Old Pilgrim Baptist Church, 2013.
13. Fountain Inn Principal’s House and Teacherage
105 Mt. Zion Drive, Fountain Inn, SC 29644
Built in 1935, this structure is the only remaining building that is historically associated with the Fountain Inn Negro School complex, comprised of the grade school built in 1928 (a Rosenwald school), a high school built in 1930, a library, and the Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates Gymnasium, built in 1942. The teacherage was constructed originally as a home for teachers that provided educational instruction for African-Americans in Fountain Inn and by the 1940s, housed teachers and the principal and his family.
Marker erected by the City of Fountain Inn and the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission, 2011.