Nestled in the heart of the Palmetto State, Greenville, South Carolina, is a city brimming with history, character, and Southern charm. If you’re in the market for a new home, you may find the perfect blend of charm and heritage in one of its historic neighborhoods. This post will guide you through Greenville’s historic districts. Whether you’re a seasoned house hunter or a first-time buyer, this comprehensive guide is designed to arm you with the insights and knowledge needed to make an informed and inspired decision.
What are the Historic Neighborhoods in Greenville, SC?
Greenville, South Carolina, is a city with a rich history, and it boasts several historic neighborhoods that have played significant roles in the city’s development. Here are some of the historic neighborhoods in Greenville:
The West End, nestled near the crossroads of Main, Pendleton, and Augusta Streets, has a rich history dating back to the 1830s. However, it wasn’t until the 1850s that this community truly began to flourish. In 1852, Furman University was founded on 50 sprawling acres in the heart of the West End, becoming a cornerstone of education and culture for the region until 1958. Just a year later, in 1853, the inaugural train of the Greenville and Columbia Railroad chugged into the West End, heralding a new era of connectivity and progress. These pivotal events ignited a wave of residential and commercial growth, shaping the West End into the vibrant and historic neighborhood we know today.
The West End is one of Greenville’s oldest neighborhoods and is known for its historic architecture, including Victorian and Craftsman-style homes. This area has undergone significant revitalization in recent years and is now a hub for dining, shopping, and cultural attractions.
Pettigru Historic District
Nestled to the east of downtown Greenville, this district is named after the Pettigru family, who were prominent in Greenville’s early history. The Pettigru Street Historic District boasts a remarkable collection of 88 structures that serve as a captivating window into the city’s architectural history. The majority of these buildings, predominantly constructed between 1910 and 1930, show a harmonious blend of frame and brick craftsmanship.
This district showcases an eclectic mix of architectural styles, showcasing Queen Anne designs and unique local interpretations of bungalows and Colonial Revival forms. The streets are adorned with beautiful trees, and the buildings share a common setback, creating a charming and cohesive ambiance. Many of these homes have been lovingly restored, giving the neighborhood a charming and historic feel.
Hampton-Pinckney Historic District
Located just north of downtown, the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District is known for its historic homes, many of which were built in the 19th century. The Hampton-Pinckney area, originally acquired by Vardry McBee in 1815, holds a significant place in Greenville’s history. The district’s first residence was erected by McBee’s son, Pinckney, before the Civil War. By the 1890s, a portion of the land inherited by the McBee family was subdivided into residential plots, and the area thrived with cotton farming, sales, and production, complemented by its proximity to the railroad terminal.
Hampton-Pinckney became the pioneering “trolley car” neighborhood in Greenville, coinciding with the textile industry’s rapid expansion. Today, it stands as one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, with tree-lined streets boasting a remarkable collection of Victorian-era homes characterized by their fanciful and sometimes exuberant designs.
Overbrook Historic District
The charming neighborhood of Overbrook has its roots in the expansion of the Greenville trolley line in 1910. As the trolley line extended to its new terminus on the city’s outskirts, Overbrook began to take shape. R.J. Rowley, a farmer, soon acquired a portion of the land and likely spearheaded the development of the first section of Overbrook, characterized by the popular Craftsman Bungalow homes of the era.
The neighborhood’s development continued, with Franklin Smith overseeing the creation of larger lots and homes for prosperous businessmen and professionals. Overbrook’s status as one of Greenville’s earliest suburbs was cemented by its convenient trolley access, and even after the transition to bus transportation around 1928.
Earle Street Historic District
The architecture here varies from Colonial Revival to Tudor-style houses. It’s a picturesque area with tree-lined streets and a strong sense of history.
The Colonel Elias Earle District in Greenville has a rich history intertwined with the Earle family. Colonel Elias Earle acquired land north of town in the late 18th century, and in 1834, the Earles expanded their holdings, leading to the creation of James Street. The neighborhood began developing in the early 20th century, featuring architectural gems like the Earle Town House and “Whitehall” alongside early 20th-century revival styles. It was a pioneer in automobile-friendly community planning, with large houses, side driveways, and rear garages. This district gained National Register of Historic Places status in 1982 and became the city’s second locally designated Preservation Overlay District in 1984.
Heritage Historic District
The Heritage Neighborhood, located in Greenville’s West Park area, was designated a local preservation overlay in 2001. This historic enclave boasts an eclectic mix of architectural styles, with bungalows from the 1920s being a prominent feature among its approximately 126 structures. Originally subdivided in 1909 by William Choice Cleveland, the land was once home to Dr. S. S. Marshall’s thriving vineyard and a nearby dairy. The neighborhood’s rich history is also intertwined with the nearby St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which drew Greek immigrants and their families. The Heritage Neighborhood stands as a testament to Greenville’s diverse heritage and architectural charm.
East Park Avenue Historic District
The East Park Avenue neighborhood, originating in the early 1900s, has deep historical roots. In 1910, part of the W.C. Cleveland estate was subdivided for residential use, and McPherson Park, gifted by Cleveland, was established just south of East Park Avenue in 1887.
This neighborhood is a showcase of early 20th-century residential architecture, featuring Craftsman, American Foursquare, Tudor, and Neo-Classical styles. Its landscape design is reminiscent of early 20th-century suburban living, with retaining walls, mature trees, and spacious lawns creating a park-like setting. McPherson Park, Greenville’s oldest public park, lies to the south, providing a scenic buffer between the neighborhood and the bustling Central Business District downtown.