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“I can truthfully say, in all my playing days … I never shirked a duty to baseball.” – Shoeless Joe Jackson

As the dogwoods start to bloom on North Main Street and the mild temps call you to Falls Park, the West End comes alive with the sounds of cheering crowds and the distinctive “CRACK” of baseball bats. When the Greenville Drive’s 2013 season opens Thursday, April 4th, it will be the latest chapter in this city’s rich baseball history. For more than a century, Greenville has been involved in a deeply committed love affair with “America’s Game”.

Long before The Drive…or even the G-Braves…came to town, the surrounding mill towns and their baseball teams had already given us local heroes whose prowess at bat was the stuff of legends. Undoubtedly the greatest of these near-mythical figures was Joe Jackson. Dubbed “Shoeless Joe” by fans, this humble man started his extraordinary baseball career right here in Greenville. The son of a sharecropper, Joe first went to work in textile mills as a child. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, Joe was quickly moved to left field, the position he would play for the rest of his career, after his massive fastball actually broke another player’s arm. But it was at bat that Joe really made his mark. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set record after record – many of which stll stand today. His remarkable talent soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915. Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports hero, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. Joe’s legend began to crumble when he and seven of his teammates were accused of “throwing’ the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record), a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After residing in various towns throughout the South, Joe returned to Greenville in 1933 where he and his wife opened a liquor store. Jackson remained a beloved citizen of his hometown until his death in 1951. He is buried next to his wife, Katie, in Greenville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park. Shoeless Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still hold franchise records for both the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. He was a pivotal character in the films “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”. In 1999, he was #35 on “The Sporting News'” list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens, professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The house where Joe spent his final years can be visited by fans today. In 2006, his modest home was dismantled and moved from its original site on Wilburn Avenue to its current location on Field Street, across from Fluor Field, to become the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library. The house number was changed to 356 to reflect Jackson’s lifetime batting average. The not-for-profit museum displays records, photographs, films and personal artifacts from Joe’s baseball career and historic life. An impressive collection of books pertaining to baseball and its place in American culture, were mostly donated by baseball enthusiasts and are now housed in the room which once held Joe’s trophies. The admission to this poignant museum is free (although donations are greatly appreciated). It is open Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM.

More of Shoeless Joe’s legacy in Greenville is found Downtown. A life-size statue, depicting Joe in his White Sox uniform, swinging for the bleachers, can be seen outside the West End Market in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza. The statue was created in the lobby of City Hall in full view of visitors and locals alike. Artist Doug Young made this piece a true community project, allowing guests to participate in the creation of the work by kneading the clay used in the sculpture. The work was unveiled on July 13, 2002 in a ceremony attended by over 700 people. In West Greenville, just off Shoeless Joe Memorial Highway, is the Shoeless Joe Memorial Park. Once part of the thriving Brandon Mill community (Jackson’s childhood home), this 8 acre park property features a lighted baseball field, dugouts, a playground and picnic shelters and is located near where Joe played baseball as a boy.

When the Greenville Drive takes the field this spring, fans will have the chance to take part in Greenville’s historic baseball legacy. Since their 2005 move to Greenville, this Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox has been embraced by baseball fans and non-fans alike. Their home stadium at Fluor Field shares dimensions with their parent club’s major league field at Fenway Park. It even boasts its own “Green Monster” – complete with a manual scoreboard just like the original, and “Pesky’s Pole” in right field. Fluor Field was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2006 by Baseballparks.com – beating out such legendary stadiums as St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. Although many fans lobbied to have the team name changed to “The Greenville Joes” in honor of our city’s favorite son, the name “Greenville Drive” reflects Greenville’s automotive history and ties to the industry through BMW and Michelin.

So join us Downtown to cheer on the home team and while you’re there, take in some of Greenville’s incredible baseball history. What could be more All-American? GO DRIVE!

For more info…
Greenville Drive: Greenville’s Class A minor league team opens their season on April 4th, with home games at Fluor Field also taking place at 7PM the 5th & 6th and a 4PM game on Sunday the 7th. Tickets are available for $7-$9 in advance or $8-$10 at the gate. For a full schedule, statistics and a team roster, visit http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t428

Shoeless Joe Jackson: To learn more about the amazing life and career of Greenville’s favorite baseball legend, visit http://www.shoelessjoejackson.com/

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library: This wonderful museum, in Jackson’s former home, is open Saturdays, 10AM – 2PM. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. It is located on Field Street, across from Fluor Field. For more information, visit: http://www.shoelessjoejackson.org

Shoeless Joe’s Gravesite: Joe and his wife, Katie, are buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, located at the corner of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. To locate the grave, turn at the first right after entering the cemetery, then bear left at the “Y”. Stop approximately 30 feet short of the next intersection and look along the left curb for the Landers plot. Joe’s grave is marked with a flat marker 9 rows behind Landers. If you cannot find it, ask employees in the Administrative Office and they will show you.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue: This life-size statue of Joe is located in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza beside the West End Market. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces/Shoeless.htm

Shoeless Joe Memorial Park: Located in West Greenville’s historic Brandon Mill Community, this recreation park features a lighted baseball park and dugouts. For more information, visit: http://greenvillerec.com/parks/4/shoeless-joe/

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Well, March is upon us and Downtown Greenville is starting look even more GREEN than usual! For the Irish and the “wish they were Irish” this is the most wonderful time of the year! And Downtown has plenty of ways for even the youngest “wee ones” to join in on the St. Paddy’s Day fun!

Festivities for the “greenest ‘ of all holidays kick off with a St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 10th. Celtic revelers will don their green apparel to stroll down Main Street and celebrate all that is Irish! With an eclectic array of Irish music, step dance teams, Irish wolfhounds, setters and other Irish dog breeds, not to mention the obligatory leprechaun or two, this free event will delight one and all! The hour (or so) long parade begins at 1PM, with participants lining up on South Main Street at Wardlaw. For more information, call 288-2922.

After the parade, join the rest of Greenville’s Irish community and “Return to the Green”. For most, this free event signals the true start of the whirlwind of St. Paddy’s celebrations. Starting at 1PM, this family-friendly shindig features Irish step dancers, Irish music from the Greenville Pipes & Drum Corps among others, authentic Irish food, the ever-popular selection of domestic and Irish beer and more Irish accents (both real and faked) than you can shake a shillelagh at. This year’s shamrock soiree takes place at Fluor Field with festivities continuing until 6PM. For details, visit http://www.returntothegreensc.com.

The Children’s Museum gets into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit with some special events for all the lads & lassies. Wee ones ages 5 and under can make beautiful Mosaic Shamrocks from cut paper in TCMU’s “S is for Shamrock” art classes. The classes take place daily, at various times, from March 12 through March 16. The classes are free with museum admission and children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, visit http://www.tcmupstate.org.

The Augusta Road Library welcomes all the little leprechauns to join them on Saturday, March 16, for “A Wee Bit of Blarney”. This St. Patrick’s Day celebration will feature Irish stories, holiday crafts and green refreshments. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Call 277-0161 for more information.

Also on March 16th, The Palmetto Children’s Charity invites you to join them at Fluor Field for the 2nd annual St. Patty’s Dash & Bash. Featuring certified 5k and 10k runs, as well as a children’s “Fun Run” and other kid-friendly activities, this family-centered event benefits local children’s charities like The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Let There Be Mom and Camp Spearhead. Although the event itself is free, there is a $25 registration fee for those wishing to participate in the 5k and 10k runs. Packet pickup is at Fluor Field from noon to 7PM on March 15 and 6:30AM to 7:30AM the day of the race, which begins at 8AM. To register and to find out more, visit http://www.stpattysdashandbash.com.

Another event seeking to make a difference is the annual St. Baldrick’s event at Larkin’s on the River. This annual event, which benefits childhood cancer research, is a much beloved St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Festivities begin at 1PM on March 17th. Whether you’re a spectator, a donor or one of those brave souls allowing their heads to be shaved in the name of charity, you cannot help but be moved and inspired by this event. For more information and to donate, visit http://www.stbaldricks.org.

So, there is no excuse not to head Downtown to shake your shamrocks a bit on St. Paddy’s Day! Just be sure to wear something green or you may get pinched! Details regarding more “adult-oriented” St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be in next week’s blog. Until then, “May the Road rise up to meet You, & may the Wind be always at your back.” Happy St. Paddy’s Day!



This past Friday evening, hundreds of people of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic standing came together to honor the memory of one man…Dr. Martin Luther King. Falls Park in Downtown Greenville was awash with goodwill and unity as participants celebrated Dr. King’s legacy as part of the “MLK Dream Weekend”.  Made up of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause, this grassroots organization encourages others to “live his dream”. This Thursday, January 17, the Hyatt Regency will host the 8th Annual MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration, with keynote speaker, Nikki Giovanni.  Ms. Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, has brought attention to the Civil Rights of others for more than three decades through her outspokenness in writing and lectures. The event begins at 7PM and although tables are currently sold out, there are some individual tickets available at $60 each. For more information and ticket availability, please call 864-990-1060.

Upstate residents are also encouraged to spread Dr. King’s message through a “MLK Day of Community Service”. In conjunction with Hands on Greenville, organizers have coordinated a variety of volunteer opportunities – from beautifying lower-income neighborhoods to delivering Meals on Wheels for the elderly and homebound. The majority of these volunteer events will take place Saturday, January 19, from 9AM until noon. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together.  For more information,  www.handsongreenville.org.

The celebration will conclude Monday, January 21 with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will begin at 8AM with a light breakfast which will be followed by the production of “One Voice” with JDew. An exceptional narrative highlighting orations from some of America’s most influential black leaders, “One Voice” is a fascinating journey through the black American experience, by virtue of eight powerful and influential voices spanning from the 1820s to present day including: Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, and Barack Obama. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

The Peace Center will also be paying homage to Dr. King and his dream with their production of “I Have a Dream”.  Part of the center’s nationally recognized arts initiative, Peace Outreach Programs (for students grades 3-12), this compelling dramatization of the life and times of one of the most influential and charismatic leaders of the Civil Rights movement is certain to inspire young minds as they experience this great leader’s struggle and his dream of lifting “our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”. Tickets are $9 with 10AM and noon show times on both January 23 and 24. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org.

A must-see for locals and visitors alike is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A trip Downtown on MLK Day would not be complete without a visit to the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

To learn more about Greenville’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the rich history of her African-American community, here are more places you may want to visit:

Site of The Working Benevolent Temple: Located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, this unassuming building was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

John Wesley United Methodist Church: Located next to the site of the Working Benevolent Temple, on Falls Street.  Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places

Richland Cemetery: Located on Stone Avenue, near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  This quiet, peaceful site is a reflective conclusion to your historical tour.



C.S. Lewis once said, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”  This month, Downtown Greenville offers many ways in which to enrich your life with the literary talents of local professional and amateur writers alike.

Throughout the Fall, students from several area schools have worked with acclaimed poet and performer, Glenis Redmond as part of the Peace Center’s “Artist-in-Residence” program. The result is “Peace Voices” –a special youth performance in which these young artists share their thoughts, dreams and imaginations through their original poetry.  Ms. Redmond, who is herself an autobiographical poet, will share her own work and well as the literary creations of her young novices. This special performance will take place at The Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre at 7PM on Tuesday, January 8. This is a free event, but tickets are required. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org or call the box office at 467-3000.

The Upcountry History Museum has partnered with the Greenville Library System to present a collection of tales reflecting the rich storytelling traditions of the Upstate.  In this series of four Tuesday performances, some of the area’s most compelling writers and literary artists will share how their work is colored by our region. The series begins with a presentation of poetry by Vera Gomez on Tuesday, January 8.  The series will continue with performances by non-fiction author, Dot Jackson on the 15th, fiction writer, George Singleton on the 22nd and finishing with poet Glenis Redmond on the 29th. All performances will take place from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Hughes Main Library. This event is free to the public but registration is required. For more information, visit www.greenvillelibrary.org or call 527-9293.

Every Sunday evening at 7:30PM, Coffee Underground comes alive with the spoken words and righteous rhymes of their “Wit’s End” Coffee & Poetry. Hosted by the Unified Sol Poets, poets of all experience and skill levels are invited to read and perform their own original works in this longest running poetry series in the state. The series is wrapped up each month with a Poetry Slam on the last Sunday of each month. The cost is $5 with registration starting at 7PM. For more information, visit www.witsendpoetry.com.

After attending some of these events, you may feel compelled to do a little writing of your own. The Emry’s Foundation, together with Hub City of Spartanburg, are once again partnering to encourage writers in their annual Creative Writing Contest. The contest has two categories – excellence in poetry and excellence in fiction. Winners of each category will receive a full scholarship to Wildacres Writers Workshop – a week-long creative writing summer school in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Second and third place contestants will receive scholarships to Hub City’s summer workshop, “Writing in Place” at Wofford College. All entries must be received by February 1, 2013 and you must be 18 or older to enter. For more information, visit www.emrys.org.

Whether you are a professional journalist, a blogger like myself, a colorful storyteller or a soulful poet, Downtown Greenville can offer many creative opportunities for literary artists.  From a commentary on daily life to a poem about the gnarled roots of a familiar tree, Downtown Greenville can excite and inspire the creative juices in us all. Take a walk around our fair city, and you may feel inspired to wax poetic yourself!

 



It’s October…the temps are getting cooler, the leaves are changing colors and Downtown is decidely SPOOKIER! Halloween is around the corner & this is a very important tie of year for the little ones. Not only is the choice of costume so very important, but all the other things that make this time of year so frightfully fun must be addressed. So if you’re looking for some Halloween Happenings to entertain your little monsters (& your teen monsters too), head Downtown for these events sure to fright & delight!

The Greenville Library System is offering many family-friendly Halloween events. Their kids’ craft events – Kindercraft, CraftTime & In BeTween Crafts – are all offering Halloween & Fall-themed projects this month. The tiniest ghouls & boos can have some Howlin’ Good Fun at the Hughes Main Library’s Bouncing Baby BOO Bash, for babies 18 months and under. This event which offers games, prizes and costume contests, will take place October 30th, starting at 11AM. The Library’s Storytime events take on a certain spookiness as kids are encouraged to come in costume to hear scary, Halloween-themed stories. For more information on these and other events at your local library, visit http://www.greenvillelibrary.org.

The Children’s Museum is offering two Halloween themed events this season. The first, BOO-seum, is returning for another year with science-themed, spooky fun every weekend in October. In addition to this family favorite, TCM is offering a twist on their art-themed events with Haunted Art Studios. Kids can create Halloween themed art projects under the guidance of the artist-in-residence. TCM also offers other events such as Halloween & Fall-themed craft projects to really get the kids in the Halloween spirit! For more info on these and other events at The Children’s Museum, visit http://www.tcmupstate.org.

For many families, no event signals the coming of Halloween like the Greenville Zoo’s BOO in the Zoo! For more than two decades, this zoo sponsored trick-or-treating has been the “must-attend” Halloween event for the “under 12 set.” This year’s event takes place October 19-21 & 26-28. Cost is $3 for adults & $6 for children (Children must have an adult chaperone). For more information on this not-so-scary event, visit http://www.greenillezoo.com.

The Saturday Market (on Court Street) is a favorite with families – and October is no exception. Join them on Saturday, October 27 for their Autumn Harvest from 8AM until noon. This year’s celebration will feature trick-or-treating for the kids, a cake walk, Ghost Buddies crafts with the folks from The Children’s Museum, a Fall Recipe Swap & a visit from the Star Wars 501st Legion, who will be roaming the Market. Best of all, it’s FREE!   For more info, visit http://saturdaymarketlive.com.

Looking for a Halloween event with a little more BITE? Then join the Zombie hoard on October 19 for the 3rd Annual Greenville Zombie Awakening. For the past couple of years, hundreds of the Walking Dead have invaded Main Street in search of BRAINS! A grassroots effort started by a group of college students & zombie enthusiasts, this year’s event promises to be even more “zombielicious”. Zombie costumes are required to participate & this is an all ages event. For more info, visit their Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/gzombieawakening.

Chills and thrills, with a little history thrown in, are what you will find when you take a Greenville Ghost Tour. Writer and paranormal specialist, Jason Profitt will lead you on a spine-tingling tour of Greenville’s supernatural side. 3 special Halloween night tours are scheduled, in addition to his regularly scheduled Thursday-Sunday 7PM tours. Tour cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children 13 & under. To book your tour & for more information, call 248-6472 or visit http://greenvilleghost.com.

In addition to the Zombie Walk & the Ghost Tours, two Haunted attractions, which are particularly popular with teens, are open in Downtown Greenville. The first, The Haunted Vault of Horror, is located at 245 N. Main Street (across from The Hyatt). Open weekends, starting at 7:30PM, this haunted attraction will take you on a frightful tour of freaks and frights. Cost is $15 per person. For more info, visit www.screamfinder.com. The second haunted attraction is a longtime Greenville favorite, Nightmare on Pendleton Street. Cooked up by the guys at B93.7, this attraction is an ever-changing screamfest of terror. Located at 904 Pendleton Street, this event is open every weekend in October from 7PM until everyone has gone home . For more info, visit www.b937online.com.

There you have it…plenty of family-friendly events for kids of all ages. So, head Downtown to get your hair raised and your spine-tingled. For more Howlin’ Good Halloween Happenings, check out the Downtown Greenville, SC Facebook Page every Friday for a posting of a calendar of events. Happy Halloween!



If you have kids, there’s a good chance you’ve had your precious little ones look up at you and sigh “I’M BORED”! Well, fear not, my fellow harried parental units, there are so many kid-friendly happenings taking place in Downtown Greenville, you may actually be able to go 48 hours without even hearing that phrase. But there is a possibility it may be replaced with “I’m tired”!

Animal lovers are in luck this weekend, with two fun and furry events featuring  lots of lions and tigers and…DOGS? Yes friends…if you like wet noses and waggly tails, come out to Cleveland Park for the Mutt Strut.  This fun 5K Run/Walk takes place Saturday, August 25th and  invites individuals, families, competitive athletes and leisurely strollers, and their dogs to participate in this paw-fect fundraiser for the Greenville Humane Society.  Registration begins at 6:30AM at The First Baptist Church  with the race (which goes along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and through Cleveland Park) starting at 8:30AM. Registration fees range from $25-$30. Participants are invited to stay and enjoy the “Mutt Strut Village,” featuring live music, refreshments and treats for two and four-legged competitors.  For more information on this event, visit http://www.ghsmuttstrut.com.

If you like animals of a more exotic type, then come out to the Greenville Zoo for their annual Zoo-A-Palooza. B93.7 is taking over the zoo Saturday, August 25th and is inviting you to the party! Festivities kick off at 6:30PM and feature food and drinks, BEE prizes and tons of family-friendly fun with acoustic performances by recording artists Austin Mahone and Chris Wallace. Proceeds benefit zoo operations and provide enrichment funds for the animals at the Greenville Zoo. Tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the gate. For more information, visit: www.greenvillezoo.com.

If you are more of the creative sort of family, then the Upcountry History Museum is the place for you! This weekend, the museum hosts two Folk Art Workshops with artist Lonnie Holley – one for adults and one for families. The Adult Folk Art Workshop is Saturday, August 25th at 10:30AM and the Family Workshop is on Sunday, August 26th at 2PM. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Lonnie Holley creates beautiful works of folk art using “found” items. His work is displayed all over the world, including the Upcountry History Museum’s “ Uniquely Southern Folk Art” exhibit (on display until September 2). Join Mr. Holley to learn how to create a work of folk art of your own!  Materials will be provided and kids are free with an adult admission.  For more information, visit www.upcountryhistory.org.

Of course, Downtown Greenville offers many activities to keep both kids and parents happy and occupied. Hunt for the Mice on Main, take in a Greenville Drive game at Fluor Field (they are home this weekend), or visit The Children’s Museum of the Upstate to explore the fun exhibits and take part in the TCMU Summer Olympics.  Afterwards, stop by The Chocolate Moose on Main for a yummy cupcake or Luna Rosa or Blueberry Frog for a scoop of refreshing gelato or frozen yogurt.  Family time in Downtown Greenville is always time well spent!

For More…

Mice On Main – Inspired by the children’s book, “Good Night Moon”, these adorable little mouse sculptures can be found peeking out from various locations throughout Downtown. For a list of hints, visit: www.miceonmain.com.

Greenville Drive – Greenville’s minor league baseball team plays their home games at Fluor Field. For a game schedule and ticket information, visit: http://www.milb.com

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – A fun, interactive museum for children, TCMU continues to be a favorite with kids and parents alike. Current exhibits include Garage Rock, BI-LO Market, Kaleidoscope Climber and Healthy Heroes. Museum admission also includes access to the many classes and activities offered to visitors. For more information, visit: www.tcmupstate.org

 



It’s Sunday morning and you’ve awaken with the desire to do something. Not just anything, but something that’ll rev up your internal engine, wind up your weekend and kickstart a new week! Well, my friend, it sounds like a trip to Downtown Greenville is in order!

Brunch is an excellent way to get your Sunday moving in the right, adventurous direction. Several Downtown establishments offer brunch and the choices are as varied as your tastes. Want a brunch that has a certain laid-back sophistication? Then, try the Jazz Brunch at High Cotton. With a mouth-watering selection of Southern classics (my personal favorite is the Crab Cakes Benedict), many foodies deem this a weekend necessity.  Serving brunch from 11AM until 2PM, this Sunday’s musical entertainment will be provided by local talent and High Cotton regulars, The Ian Bracchitta Trio. Some other great choices for brunch include The Green Room (serving brunch all day from 9AM until 5PM), The Bohemian (serves brunch from 11AM until @2PM), Mary Beth’s (especially good for early risers, serves brunch from7AM until 3PM), American Grocery Restaurant (Fresh, local ingredients, brunch served 11AM-2PM) or the Spoonbread Restaurant at The Poinsett Hotel (a Greenville institution, serving brunch from 10AM until 2PM).

After brunch, stroll down College Street to Heritage Green and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Every Sunday at 2PM, the art museum offers a wide range of special events and programs at their appropriately named “Sundays @ 2”. The schedule includes artist and gallery talks, special tours, music, and demonstrations. These events are free and many are designed with families in mind. The next two Sundays feature “Music in the Galleries” with the Pride of Greenville Men’s Chorus on the 29th and Celtic Singer Judy McKenney on August 5th. After the performance, take a few moments to tour the evocative, ever-changing exhibits on display. The Greenville Museum of Art is open from 1PM until 5PM on Sundays.  For more information, visit http://www.greenvillemuseum.org.

If you wish to continue your “artsy vibe”, then consider checking out Greenville’s thriving theatre scene. Many of Downtown’s community theatre’s feature matinee times for recent performances. Currently showing at Centre Stage is the 60’s inspired musical, “Beehive”. The play runs through August 11 and matinees are at 3PM, Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and available through the Box office or online at http://centrestage.org. If Shakespeare is more your thing, then head over to Falls Park at 7PM for Shakespeare in the Park. This “motley crew” of players tells the Bard’s tales, with a modern twist. Currently showing is a contemporary adaption of “Henry V”, complete with “mosh pit” battle scenes to the Celtic-punk tunes of Dropkick Murphys!  Even your bored teens will get into this! Performances are free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

If the evening finds you with the urge to be in air-conditioned comfort, then look no further than Coffee Underground. For some sick rhymes taken with some medicinal caffeine, join other wordsmiths for the Wit’s End Poetry Slam. Regional artists, including the renowned poets from Unified Sol, heat up Sunday nights with some cool poetic insight during this open mic event. Doors open at 7:30PM, everyone is welcome and there is a $5 cover charge. For more information, visit: www.coffeeunderground.biz.

No matter what your interests are, there’s always something to do Downtown. From the many shops and art galleries and museums such as the Upcountry History Museum and The Children’s Museum, to a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail or a Drive game at Fluor Field, there’s always an event to suit your mood. For a detailed list of daily Downtown happenings, check out the Downtown Greenville Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC.

Here are some more fun Sunday Things to do Downtown:

Upcountry History Museum:  A family-friendly interactive museum showcases the diverse history of Greenville and the Upstate. Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM and Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-18. www.upcountryhistory.org

The Children’s Museum: A kid-friendly, interactive museum that encourages creative play. Special daily events, programs and classes offered, usually at no additional cost. Sunday hours are 11AM to 5PM and Admission is $9 for children 2-12 and $10 for adults. www.tcmupstate.org

Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville:   Featuring work from local artists that are available for sale, this gallery also hosts receptions and other special events open to the public. Admission is free and Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM. http://artistsguildgalleryofgreenville.org

Greenville Zoo: Located near Cleveland Park, this small Zoo is very family-friendly. Sunday hours are 9AM until 5PM. Admission is $7.75 for adults, $4.50 for kids 3-15. For a list of special Zoo events, see www. greenvillezoo.com

Greenville Drive: Greenville’s minor league baseball team, who plays home games at Fluor Field. Sunday home games usually start at 4PM. Tickets are $5 – $8 and are available through the box office or online. For tickets or game schedule, see http://www.milb.com.

Swamp Rabbit Trail: This17.5 mile multi-use trail system runs along the Reedy River connecting Travelers Rest with the City of Greenville. For a map of the trial, visit http://greenvillerec.com/parks/swamprabbit/

Reedy Rides: Dedicated bicycle rental business located in downtown Greenville. Can deliver bikes right to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Sunday hours are 8AM to 8PM. For more info, call (864) 419-2944

Downtown Trolley:  The trolley runs Downtown on Sundays from 1PM until 8PM and rides are free of charge.  Download a map of the trolley route at  http://www.greenvillesc.gov

 



For the people who work, live and play Downtown, the statues of famous Greenvillians are just part of the landscape. We walk by them, sit next to them to rest our feet or to pose for a picture, use them as a meeting place to hook up with friends, even dress them up for holidays! But who ARE these people apparently so important to Downtown Greenville that we saw fit to immortalize them in bronze? This weekend, noted historian and founder of Historic Greenville Tours, John Nolan, will enlighten us on this subject in a series of tours scheduled to take place Saturday morning (June 16th) and Sunday evening (June 17th).  Can’t wait until this weekend to learn more (or perhaps, you’d like to impress Mr. Nolan with your vast knowledge of notable Greenvillians)? Well, here’s a little insight into just WHO these folks are and why they are so significant to our little part of the world.

Across the street from the Hyatt Regency (and the starting point of this weekend’s tour), is an impressive statue depicting former Greenville Mayor, Max Heller. Now, Greenville has had many mayors, but none quite like Max Heller. The epitome of the “American Dream”, Max was an Austrian Jew who fled to Greenville as a teenager to escape the Nazi regime. Arriving with less than $2 to his name, Max quickly found work at the Piedmont Shirt Factory (now the site of Devereaux’s) with the help of a local Greenville girl, Mary Mills, in answer to his plea for assistance.  Seven years later, the young man found himself the Vice President of the company, but soon felt the urge to strike out on his own. In 1948, he started his own shirt company with 16 employees and by the time he sold it 14 years later, his workforce had swelled to 700. With a vow to serve the public, Max ran for and was elected Mayor of Greenville in 1971. To say Greenville would not be what it is today without this event would be an understatement. Max quickly sprang into action – desegregating all city government departments and commissions, so that everyone would have an equal chance for success, strengthening our local economy by convincing corporations such as the Hyatt to build here and setting out to beautify our city so that instead of having out-of-towners drive quickly through Downtown (usually with windows up and doors locked), visitors would want to stop and spend time here. Sculpted by artist Thomas J. Durham, the statue is surrounded by concrete panels depicting aspects of this great man’s life and legacy.  I believe it is safe to say that Downtown Greenville would not be the award-winning, tourism nirvana and fine example of the “New South” that it is today without the faith and vision of Max Heller.

South from Max Heller Legacy Plaza, at the corner of Main and Washington Streets, stands a statue of two young people representing  a group of students whose actions were every bit as crucial in shaping Greenville as Mayor Heller’s. The young man and woman depicted in the statue have no actual names, they are representative of the courage and strength of the young students of Sterling High School. In the 1960’s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, young men and women from this prestigious African-American high school staged peaceful rallies, demonstrations and  “sit-ins” at the Woolworth lunch counter, which was located at this site. Braving taunts, abuse and certain arrest, these resolute students, which included the Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, changed the societal landscape of Greenville County and helped end unfair segregation in the Upstate.  With funds raised by The Friends of Sterling, artist Mariah Kirby-Smith sculpted the two students walking proudly down the steps of Sterling High, schoolbooks in hand and hopeful expressions on their faces. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

Further south down Main, on Court Street, is a depiction of another statesman important to our area, Joel R. Poinsett. Although officially a resident of Charleston, like many Lowcountry natives, he also had a “summer home” here in the Upstate.  Sculpted by artist Zan Wells and situated near the hotel that bears his name, Mr. Poinsett is shown pausing to read a book, his hat and coat carefully placed beside him. Many of the visitors who stop and pose for a picture with the distinguished gentleman, are unaware that not only is he responsible for bringing the standard of Christmas that bears his name, the Poinsettia plant,  to America, but that he was also the Minister to Mexico, the first consul-general of the US to Buenos Aries, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Van Buren,  a respected member of Congress and a member of the South Carolina State Legislature (where he was president of the board of public works). In his spare time (he actually HAD spare time believe it or not), he studied medicine and law, was extremely well traveled and had interests in natural history, botany, science, and politics. No wonder so many of our Upstate landmarks bear his name!

Across from Mr. Poinsett (and in fine company) is the statue of Vardry McBee. Commonly referred to as the “Father of Greenville”, Mr. McBee (pronounced “MACK-bee”, as any “old-family” Greenvillian will quickly inform you) was instrumental in accelerating industrial growth in our area.  After purchasing the land that would become the city of Greenville in 1815, he saw the value of a diversified economy and constructed over 100 buildings in Greenville County as well as built several mills (including a textile mill) along the Reedy River A humble man, McBee used his considerable fortune to improve the lives of his fellow citizens, appropriating his land and fortunes to public projects, He was a great believer in freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and that education should be available to all, and gave lands and money for the establishment of male and female colleges,  Greenville’s first churches (all of different denominations) and open areas available for public assembly upon which no buildings could be built (the Poinsett Hotel’s L-Shape is the result of being built around one of these city squares). He championed the construction of the railroad line that connected Columbia and Greenville, which become a turning point in the economy of the town. Sculpted by artist T. J. Dixon, McBee is shown in thoughtful repose, surveying the city he helped create.

Positioned near the Greenville News building, at the corner of Main and Broad Streets, is a formidable statue depicting Revolutionary War General, Nathaniel Greene. Although not actually from the Upstate, Gen. Greene played a significant role in the fight for American Independence in our state and is believed to be the inspiration for our city’s name (although the spelling has been changed). As one of the most trusted of Washington’s generals and the leader of the American troops in the South, Greene’s military genius was pivotal to Patriot victories in the Carolinas, thus turning the tide of the War in favor of the Americans. In this work created by the husband and wife team of James Nelson and T.J. Dixon, Greene is shown in an imposing stance, spyglass in hand, looking north toward victory at Yorktown.

Past the Main Street Bridge, located across from the Falls Park entrance at the corner of Main and Camperdown, sits the statue depicting one of Greenville’s most brilliant native sons, Charles Townes. The Nobel Prize winner for his studies that became the laser, Townes was recently listed as one of a thousand most important people of the last thousand years in the book, 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: The Men and Women Who Charted the Course of History for the Last Millennium.  Born in 1915 near what is now St. Francis Hospital, this future scientist showed an interest in the natural world and technology at an early age.  A precociously bright and innovative boy, he enrolled at Furman University as a sixteen-year-old freshman and later graduated summa cum laude with majors in physics and foreign languages in 1935. After earning a master’s degree at Duke University and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, he began work at Bell Labs, designing radar systems for American bombers in WWII. After the war, he joined the physics department at Columbia University. It was here, sitting on a park bench in 1951 that he had an epiphany which lead to the creation of laser technology. It is this moment that is captured in this sculpture by artist Zan Wells.  Clutching the envelope on which he scribbled the formula for his theory, Townes is shown with the light of scientific revelation reflected on his face.  In tribute to Dr. Townes’ invention, the statue actually contains a small laser. Surrounding this piece in what is known as “Townes Plaza” are four other benches from Franklin Park in Washington, DC, where Townes is reputed to have had his earth-shaking “a-ha moment”.  Visitors are invited to sit with Dr. Townes and have a revelation of their own.

South on Main Street, toward the part of Greenville known as the West End, is the final and perhaps most poignant statue on the tour, the sculpture of Joseph Jefferson Jackson, otherwise known as “Shoeless Joe”.  The story of Joe Jackson’s life and career are worthy of a Shakespearean play. Son of a poor Greenville sharecropper, Joe quickly went to work in a textile mill as soon as he was old enough to reach the machinery. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, he was moved to left field after one of his pitches actually broke an opponent’s arm. He would play this position for the rest of his baseball career. But it was at bat that Joe’s amazing natural talent shown through. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set record after record – many of which still stand today. This is how artist Doug Young chose to portray this baseball legend – forever frozen in time, swinging for the stands, his eyes alight with the knowledge that he just hit another home run.  It was this incredible ability that soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915.  Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports icon, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. But Joe’s success was short-lived. In a tragic turn of events, Joe found himself accused with seven of his teammates of  “throwing” the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record), a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After living in several southern towns and cities and playing semi-pro baseball under assumed names, Joe and his wife, Kate returned to Greenville to live out the rest of his years.  Always a beloved local hero to the people of Greenville,  Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still holds franchise records for the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. In 1999, he was #35 on The Sporting News  list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens, professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Want to learn more? Then join Mr. Nolan and others for a guided tour down Main Street to discover what these wonderful statues and the remarkable people they depict reveal about our city’s past and present. Sponsored by Historic Greenville Tours and the Upcountry History Museum, the tours begin in the Dogwood Suite at the Hyatt Regency and end at Shoeless Joe Plaza (intersection of Main and Augusta). Two tours will take place – Saturday morning, June 16th, from 8:30AM until 10:30 AM and again Sunday evening, June 17th, from 6:30PM until 8:30PM. Tickets for the tours cost $20 for UHM members and $30 for all others and are available at The Upcountry History Museum. Space is very limited. If you are not able to fit either of these tours into your summer schedule, no worries…similar tours are planned to take place in September and December. For more information, visit www. Upcountryhistory.org

So there you have it…a diversity of sculptural works depicting a diversity of people, all of whom had a significant part in shaping our fair city. And the list is ever-growing…plans are in the works to create more statues because Greenville natives just KEEP ON doing remarkable things! Who will be next? I personally would like to see a sculptural tribute to Academy Award winning actress (and Greenville native) Joanne Woodward, to acknowledge Greenville’s thriving arts and theatre community…but that’s just my opinion.



“I can truthfully say, in all my playing days … I never shirked a duty to baseball.”   – Shoeless Joe Jackson

As the dogwoods start to bloom on North Main Street and the mild temps call you to Falls Park, the West End comes alive with the sounds of cheering crowds and the distinctive “CRACK” of baseball bats. When the Greenville Drive‘s 2012 season opens Thursday, April 5th, it will be the latest chapter in this city’s rich baseball history. For more than a century, Greenville has been involved in a deeply committed love affair with “America’s Game”.

Long before The Drive…or even the G-Braves…came to town, the surrounding mill towns and their baseball teams had already given us local heroes whose prowess at bat was the stuff of legends. Undoubtedly the greatest of these near-mythical figures  was Joe Jackson. Dubbed “Shoeless Joe” by fans, this humble man started his extraordinary baseball career right here in Greenville. The son of a sharecropper, Joe first went to work in textile mills as a child. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, Joe was quickly moved to left field, the position he would play for  the rest of his career, after his massive fastball actually broke another player’s arm. But it was at bat that Joe really made his mark. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set  record after record – many of which still stand today. His remarkable talent soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915.  Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports hero, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. Joe’s legend began to crumble  when he and seven of his teammates were accused of “throwing’ the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record),  a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After residing in various towns throughout the South, Joe returned to Greenville in 1933 where he and his wife opened a liquor store. Jackson remained a beloved citizen of his hometown until his death in 1951. He is buried  next to his wife, Katie, in Greenville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park. Shoeless Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still hold franchise  records for both the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. He was a pivotal character in the films  “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”. In 1999, he was #35  on “The Sporting News'”  list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens,  professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The house where Joe spent his final years can be visited by fans today. In 2006, his modest home was dismantled and moved from its original site on Wilburn Avenue to its current location on Field Street, across from Fluor Field, to become the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library. The house number was changed to 356 to reflect Jackson’s lifetime batting average. The not-for-profit museum displays records, photographs, films and personal artifacts from Joe’s baseball career and historic life. An impressive collection of books pertaining to baseball and its place in American culture, were mostly donated by baseball enthusiasts and are now housed in the room which once held Joe’s trophies. The admission to this poignant museum is free (although donations are greatly appreciated). It  is open Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM.

More of Shoeless Joe’s legacy in Greenville is found Downtown. A life-size statue, depicting Joe in his White Sox uniform, swinging for the bleachers, can be seen outside the West End Market in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza. The statue was created in the lobby of City Hall in full view of visitors and locals alike. Artist Doug Young made this piece a true community project, allowing guests to participate in the creation of the work by kneading the clay used in the sculpture. The work was unveiled on July 13, 2002 in a ceremony attended by over 700 people. In West Greenville,  just off Shoeless Joe Memorial Highway, is the Shoeless Joe Memorial Park. Once part of the thriving Brandon Mill community (Jackson’s childhood home), this 8 acre park property features a lighted baseball field, dugouts, a playground and picnic shelters and is located near where Joe played baseball as a boy.

When the Greenville Drive takes the field this spring, fans will have the chance to take part in Greenville’s historic baseball legacy. Since their 2005 move to Greenville, this Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox has been embraced by baseball fans and non-fans alike. Their home stadium at Fluor Field shares dimensions with their parent club’s major league field at Fenway Park. It even boasts its own “Green Monster” – complete with a manual scoreboard just like the original, and “Pesky’s Pole” in right field. Fluor Field was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2006 by Baseballparks.com – beating out such legendary stadiums as St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.  Although many fans lobbied to have the team name changed to “The Greenville Joes” in honor of our city’s favorite son, the name “Greenville Drive” reflects Greenville’s automotive history and ties to the industry through BMW and Michelin.

Fans of The Drive will have the opportunity to meet the players and coaches before the game Thursday. The team will be gathering at noon for a special luncheon at The Carolina Ale House, before heading to the stadium to prepare for their season opener against the Lakewood BlueClaws. Fans are encouraged to stop by,  meet the team and watch the Boston Red Sox season opener against the Detroit Tigers on the Ale House’s big screen TV’s. The Red Sox game starts at 1PM.  The Drive game begins at 7PM. Tickets are available online and at the gate for $5 – $8 in advance and $6 – $9 the day of the game.

So join us Downtown to cheer on the home team and while you’re there, take in some of Greenville’s incredible baseball history. What could be more All-American? GO DRIVE!

For more info…

Greenville Drive: Greenville’s Class A minor league team opens their season on April 5th, with home games at Fluor Field also taking place the 6th and 7th and an afternoon game on Sunday the 8th. For a full schedule, statistics and a team roster, visit http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t428

Shoeless Joe Jackson: To learn more about the amazing life and career of  Greenville’s favorite baseball legend, visit http://www.shoelessjoejackson.com/

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library: This wonderful museum, in Jackson’s former home, is open Saturdays, 10AM – 2PM. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.  It is located on Field Street, across from Fluor Field. For more information, visit: http://www.shoelessjoejackson.org

Shoeless Joe’s Gravesite: Joe and his wife, Katie, are buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, located at the corner of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. To locate the grave, turn at the first right after entering the cemetery, then bear left at the “Y”. Stop approximately 30 feet short of  the next intersection and look along the left curb for the Landers plot. Joe’s grave is marked with a flat marker 9 rows behind Landers. If you cannot find it, ask employees in the Administrative Office and they will show you.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue: This life-size statue of Joe is located in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza beside the West End Market. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces/Shoeless.htm

Shoeless Joe Memorial Park:  Located in West Greenville’s historic Brandon Mill Community, this recreation park features a lighted baseball park and dugouts. For more information, visit: http://greenvillerec.com/parks/4/shoeless-joe/

West End Baseball Academy: Want to swing for the bleachers yourself? Visit West End Baseball Academy located on Dunbar Street, behind Greenville High. With batting cages, indoor and outdoor baseball facilities, and team and individual instruction, it’s the best place Downtown to do a little pitching, catching and hitting. For more info, visit http://www.westendbaseballacademy.com/west-end-news.php

 



It’s been over 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King shared his Dream with the Nation. This weekend, Greenville will honor Dr. King with “MLK Dream Weekend”. This organization of business and civic leaders committed to Dr. King’s cause encourages others to “live his dream”. Tonight, TD Convention Center will play host to the MLK Diversity Banquet and Celebration with guest speaker, Roland Martin.  This dinner event will begin at 6:15PM and will include pre-dinner entertainment provided by Whitney Walters and Groove Planet. An after-party will follow with host Vicky James of 107.3 JAMZ. This Saturday from 10AM until noon, Upstate residents are encouraged to participate in a Day of Community Service in conjunction with Hands on Greenville. Volunteers will work at various project sites throughout Greenville County. Families, friends and community groups can sign up to volunteer together. The celebration will conclude Monday with “Dreams in Action” at Greenville High School. This event, whose mission is to spread Dr. King’s message of positive change, will include workshops,  entertainment, community service projects and lunch for the participants. For more information on this and other MLK Dream Weekend events, visit www.mlkdreamweekend.com.

If you can’t make the Dream Weekend festivities, you can still pay homage Dr. King and his Dream. An excellent place to start is at the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Downtown Greenville. This seemingly ordinary street corner, which is currently the site of building projects, played a remarkable and very important role in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement. This was once the home of the Woolworth’s building and was the site of “sit-ins” and student protests against segregation in the 1960’s.  Many of the students involved, including Greenville native, Rev. Jesse Jackson and museum curator, Ruth Ann Butler, attended Sterling High School. A memorial to these courageous students now stands on the site. The life-size statue by artist Maria Kirby Smith depicts two African American students (a young man and a young woman), walking down the steps from Sterling High. The site also contains a memorial marker honoring Sterling High itself, which burned in 1967.

If you continue south down Main Street and turn east onto Broad, you will find two more places that played an important part in the history of Greenville’s African American community. The first, located at the corner of Broad and Falls Streets, was once the home of the Working Benevolent Temple. Constructed in 1922, this 3-story, brick building played a vital role in the development of Greenville’s African American business district for over 50 years by providing office space to many of the community’s professionals. It was designed, built and financed by the Working Benevolent Grand State Lodge of South Carolina, a health, welfare and burial benefit society.

Next to this prestigious site (on Falls Street) is the John Wesley United Methodist Church. Organized in 1866 by Rev. James Rosewood, a former slave, this church was one of South Carolina’s first independent African American congregations after the Civil War. The current church was built between the years of 1899 and 1903 and is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. John Wesley Methodist has long been the epicenter of Greenville’s religious community and, along with the Working Benevolent Temple, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A must-see for anyone living in or visiting Downtown Greenville is the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center, located at 700 Arlington Avenue. Founded in 1987 by Ruth Ann Butler, a former history teacher and participant in Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement, this African American history museum and cultural center is dedicated to the preservation of Greenville’s rich multi-cultural diversity, contributions and accomplishments. The Center provides a haven of historical reflection, research and education through exhibits, archives and guided tours. The Resource Center contains biographical sketches, news articles, tape recordings, photographs, and letters of prominent African-Americans, available to visiting scholars, students, and the general public.

A reflective conclusion to your historical tour can be found at Richland Cemetery, located on Stone Avenue near North Main. In stark contrast to the elegant opulence of nearby Springwood Cemetery, this small area is the simple yet dignified final resting place of some of Greenville’s most prominent African American citizens. Many of the graves contain no markers or homemade gravestones, while others are marked by stones proudly proclaiming the person’s accomplishments and status in the community.  A tour through this quiet, peaceful place will show you how far Greenville has come…and how far we have yet to go to attain Dr. King’s Dream.



et cetera