The City of Greenville was incorporated in 1786, 16 years after a Virgina trader named Richard Pearis received ~100,000 acres of land along the Reedy River. Now that 200+ years have passed, the city and its streets are chock-full of vibrant history.
It’s safe to say that over the years, the city has been touched by countless historical figures and happenings — many of which have shaped the names of Greenville’s buildings, parks, and streets. In this guide, we’re delving into the history of Greenville’s streets — specifically how they were named.
While Main Street, with its twinkling lights and trees, is the heart of downtown, it’s the streets that lead into the city’s center that tell the story of how (and by who) Greenville was shaped into what we know it as today.
McBee Avenue — Vardry McBee — AKA one of the “Fathers of Greenville” — donated land to establish many of Greenville’s first churches (think: Christ Episcopal Church). He built one of the earliest grist mills on the Reedy River and was instrumental in moving Furman University to Greenville.
Coffee Street — Contrary to what you may think, this street didn’t get its name from Coffee Underground, and is most likely named after General John Coffee, a military leader in the War of 1812, says local historian Judith Bainbridge.
Beattie Place — Named after the Beattie family who built the Beattie House, which is now on Bennett Street, but once stood on East North Street. Fountain Fox Beattie — whose father was John Edgeworth Beattie, the former president of the First National Bank of Greenville — was elected to the SC House of Representatives in 1905.
Townes Street — Named after Alexander Sloan Townes — the president of Greenville’s Woman’s College from 1878 to 1894.
Pettigru Street, Broadus Avenue, Manly Street, and Whitsett Street — These three downtown streets are named after professors who taught at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which began in 1858 under the leadership of James Petigru Boyce.
This epicenter of the Textile Crescent continues to grow into a district of revitalized mills and mill communities, peppered with small businesses and much of Greenville’s art scene.
Markley Street — Named after H. C. Markley, who owned Markley Wagon and Hardware Company — a carriage and hardware business by the falls on the Reedy River that was originally owned by Ebenezer Gower (whom Gower Estates is named after) in the 1830s.
Sirrine Street — Named after George Sirrine, who managed H.C. Markley’s Markley Hardware & Manufacturing Company. He went on to be part of the committee that established the Upstate’s first Young Men’s Christian Association and “ housed the city’s first free public library inside their modest home.” in the 1880’s and 1890’s.
Perry Avenue — This avenue was named after Upstate-born Benjamin Franklin Perry, who was the 72nd Governor of SC and editor of the Greenville Mountaineer in 1832. Perry died in Greenville in 1886, and is buried at the cemetery at Christ Church.
North Main and Overbrook
The two neighborhoods are packed with Greenville history, featuring some of the city’s oldest historic landmarks (like the Earle Town House at 107 James St.) and having kickstarted Greenville’s growth beyond Main Street (think: the trolley line terminus in Overbrook).
Stone Avenue — Named after Dr. Charles Benjamin Stone and his wife, Eugenia Ann Earle, who lived in Greenville from 1840 to 1886. Their property covered much of the land from Main Street to East North Street, Rutherford Road and Wade Hampton Boulevard
Earle Street — Named after Elias Earle — an early settler of Greenville who owned land in the 18th century in what is now known as the historic Colonel Elias Earle District in North Main.
Wade Hampton Boulevard — Named after Wade Hampton III, a Civil War military officer. He was also elected as the 77th Governor of SC from 1876 to 1879, and later served as a U.S. Senator. He was born in Charleston and died in Columbia.
Parkins Mill Road — Named after Parkins Mill, a flour and meal mill built between 1825 and 1830 and run by Allen Parkins, who owned ~2,700 acres of land “that stretched from Laurens Road to Augusta Road and from modern day Pleasantburg Drive to East Parkins Mill Drive.”
Laurens Road — Many believe Laurens Road was named after John Laurens, a lieutenant colonel under General George Washington during the American Revolution. Laurens was an abolitionist and suffered four different wounds in battle. He was 27 when he died.
What started with John Wilkins Norwood transferring his 39-acre estate and setting forth terms to develop the land into a subdivision with sewers, streets, and telephone, and power lines became what we know today as Alta Vista.
Augusta Road — Once a shipping station and main mail route, Augusta Road was named in the 1830’s for serving as the main route from Greenville to Augusta, GA.
McDaniel Avenue — James McDaniel served under his father-in-law, Col. William Austin, during the War of 1812. He was elected sheriff of Greenville County in 1830 and later served as Clerk of Court. He acquired about 3,000 acres of land between Mauldin and Greenville during his lifetime.
Cleveland Street — The Cleveland family donated 122 acres of land along the Reedy River, creating Cleveland Park in 1928.