15 interesting facts about GVL

Aerial view of downtown greenville sc

Downtown Greenville, SC | @james_simpson_photography

If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts when it comes to GVL trivia — and there’s plenty of interesting factoids to go around.

As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of Greenville’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 16 interesting facts.

  1. Greenville was once home to an Oscar-winning actress: Joanne Woodward. A native of Thomasville, GA, Joanne moved to Greenville at 16 years old in 1945. She went on to become a Hollywood actress, having been nominated for three Academy Awards and winning Best Actress for “The Three Faces of Eve.” Read more about her life in Greenville in the Greenville Journal.
  2. Albert Einsteins son called Greenville home. Einstein’s son, Hans Albert Einstein + his wife, lived on Randall Street in the North Main area of Greenville for five years in the late 1930s. The younger Einstein worked for the US Department of Agriculture and Clemson University, and took his father, Albert, on tours of Furman when he visited from Princeton University. During his time here, Hans Einstein’s son passed away and is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park.
  3. Woodside Mill, built in 1902, was once the largest textile mill under one roof in the world. As the mill’s business grew, so did the village that developed around it (now known as the Woodside Cotton Mill Village Historic District, a nationally-registered historic area). Earlier this year, The Lofts at Woodside Mill apartments opened, and now residents are able to enjoy living in a piece of major Greenville history.
  4. Step aside, Ricky Bobby. Louise Smith, one of the first females to race in NASCAR and known as “racing’s good ol’ gal,” was a Greenville native. In 1949, Louise + her driving student Barbara Peigler, were two of nine women to race in a 10-lap event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
  5. Speaking of Greenville-Pickens Speedway, did you know the racetrack hosted the first live-televised NASCAR race? ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcast The Greenville 200 Grand National, a 200-lap race won by Bobby Issac, in 1971.
  6. The poinsettia appeared for the first time in America in Greenville. Charleston native Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first US Minister to Mexico + an amateur botanist who kept greenhouses on his Greenville plantation. When he found the poinsettia plant on a trip to Mexico in 1828, he sent cuttings home. When Poinsett delivered his new plants to friends in Charleston and Philadelphia, everyone fell in love… and the rest is history. Learn more about the history of the poinsettia.
  7. Delano Drive near Unity Park (where Southernside Brewing Co. is located) has some relation to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After he died in Georgia on April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt’s body was transported north on the Southern Railway. The train passed through Greenville at 6:30 p.m. on April 13, and 15,000+ Greenvillians bore witness. (Greenville News)

    GVL_FDR in Greenville_Nov 2022

    Front page news on April 14, 1945. | Clipping from the Greenville News via Newspapers.com

  8. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is the first childrens museum in the country to be an affiliate of the Smithsonian. The Upcountry History Museum is also a Smithsonian affiliate, meaning they’re able to share collections and exhibits, education strategies, and research within the affiliate system.
  9. Over the years, Greenville (and the Upstate area) has been home to a variety of talented people, including civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman, NBA player Kevin Garnett, and Olympic pole vaulter Sandi Morris. See more of Greenville’s famous alumni here.
  10. Laurens Road, Perry Avenue, Markley Street, are all named after some pretty historical figures. Perry Avenue was named after Benjamin Franklin Perry (born in the Upstate) who was the 72nd Governor of South Carolina, and was the editor of the Greenville Mountaineer in 1832. Townes Street was named after Alexander Sloan Townes (the president of Greenville Woman’s College from 1878 to 1894). Learn more about Greenville’s street names here.
  11. Fluor Field is a mini-Fenway Park. The Greenville Drive is a Red Sox affiliate, and our home stadium mirrors the 117-year-old Boston field, with a manual scoreboard + 30-ft high Green Monster wall in left field.
    GVL_James Simpson Photog Fluor Field_Sept 2022

    Fluor Field looking stunning, as always. | Photo by @james_simpson_photography

  12. Greenville’s oldest business is Hale’s Jewelers. The SC state legislature formed Greenville in 1786. That’s a lot of time for businesses to put down roots. Hale’s has been open since 1856, Duke Sandwich Company has been serving up heaven on bread since 1917, and the Army Navy Store opened back in 1943 See more of Greenville’s oldest businesses here.
  13. 166. That’s how many movies have been filmed in Greenville, according to IMDB. Well-known pictures include “Leatherheads” starring George Clooney and “Coup De Ville” starring Patrick Dempsey.
  14. There was a training camp for National Guard soldiers in Greenville during WWI. Units from SC, NC, and TN arrived to train at Camp Sevier in July 1917, receiving training in artillery, gas defense, and machine gun use. Soldiers from Camp Sevier later helped break the Germans’ Hindenburg Line. When the facility closed in spring 1919 following the war’s November 1918 end, ~100,000 men had been trained at Camp Sevier.
  15. Local students helped prompt the US Supreme Court to override segregation in Greenville. In the summer of 1960, eight current + former students of Sterling High School led sit-ins at three Main Street lunch counters: Woolworth’s, H.T. Grant’s, and S.H. Kress & Co. Arrests were made at Kress & Co. that August, and after the students were convicted of trespassing, their lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, who initially upheld the verdict against the students but later reversed the SC court’s decision in 1963 after further appeals. The Greenville Eight sit-in on July 16, 1960 was also the catalyst for the desegregation of Greenville’s libraries.

Have an interesting fact we should consider for the list? Test our knowledge.

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