Preservation is growing across Greenville County!

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Moonville, Piedmont, Fork Shoals, Commentary

October 2, 2023 by Moonville Mae - Views: 74

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Preservation is growing across Greenville County!

Campbell's covered bridge painting

This is Moonville Mae again, and I want to share with you some information about a group I work with for the county and some of the things this group does for Greenville.  I am currently the Vice Chair of the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission (GCHPC) which is appointed by County Council to aid in the preservation of historical sites in the unincorporated areas.  I did not know anything about this commission when I joined, and most folks have never heard of it either.  I got to this point through a phone call from Tuffy Atkins, ex-chair of the Fork Shoals Historical Society.  She thought she needed some help getting something done for the new park, Cedar Falls County.  From this work, I wound up volunteering for County Council on the GCHPC and have been continuously a member for twelve years.

Poinsett bridge drawing

GCHPC was formed by state legislation about 65 years ago and has been active behind the scenes for all that time as they have worked to help limit the loss of our important historical buildings and places.  The commission is made up of 8 folks from around the county who are interested in helping with this mission - an engineer, an architect, an archeologist, and the rest historians and other suckers like me.  When I sit around the meeting table, I am constantly in awe of the knowledge brought to this work by our members.  What I mainly bring to the commission is organizational skills, while the other members bring their historical and technical knowledge.    I chose to jump on this bandwagon, because there was not much representation for the southern part of the county, and I’m always concerned that our issues are overlooked.  Currently, there are three more members from Southern Greenville.

Since I have come on the commission some changes have evolved in our work.  First, we have been working with cemeteries and cemetery law as new development is encroaching into the country-side.  You may have seen some of this work in the news.  Second, we also are beginning to work with the county to provide tax credits for renovations of historic buildings.  Several of our old mills are being repurposed, and we are excited this is happening.  I’m sure you are familiar with local mills in Simpsonville and Fork Shoals that are now fine living spaces.  Others near Greenville such as Mills Mill and Dunean are high end condos, and moving forward also are Brandon Mill and American Spinning and Judson.  Third is the completion of the Pelham Mill Office renovation and the 1813 Blythe-Haygood House (Hwy. 11 at Hwy. 25) stabilization project which the exterior has been stabilized.  Then fourth, our members and volunteers work with groups to raise state historical markers for local sites.  I have completed several myself, and it takes a lot of research and some money.  Finally, the commission protects a number of historic sites by overseeing any changes to the exteriors of the buildings.  Owners of such structures and sites can request this protection by the commission.  If you have one you would like to protect forever, contact one of the commission members or check out the commission’s website for more information.

YMCA Building
Goodwin House

But the main thing I want to talk about is the Historic Site Survey of 1100 places across the county.  (Find this document in the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission website).  This survey was funded by a grant written by our friend, Dan Powell, who many of you surely remember.  Dan’s hard work brought an Atlanta company to record sites in the county that are at least 50 years old and have some historical significance architecturally or by connection to an important person or story.

Many homes and buildings in southern Greenville County were identified as treasures, but one thrilling thing that came from this survey is that 6 communities were suggested for possible National Historic District designation.  And 3 of those villages are in south Greenville!  No surprises when I tell you, I’m sure – Connestee Mill and Village, Fork Shoals Mill and Village, and Piedmont Main Street and Mill Village.  It is time to do another one of these surveys, since it has been ten years.

Work continues by this group and the county historical societies and two new trust groups, Greenville County Historical and Natural Resources Trust and the Upstate Preservation Trust.  Now is the time to join the work to save Greenville County’s history.  Look for a society in your area and volunteer.

 Historically yours,

Moonville Mae■


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