A History of Greenwood, South Carolina


Greenwood County Court House - Greenwood, SC (2008)

The city of Greenwood is located in the heart of Greenwood County. Incorporated in 1857, the city now boasts a thriving population of 23,222 (2010 census) and an estimated daytime population of forty thousand. Greenwood is one of the larger cities in the South Carolina piedmont. The total area of the city has been calculated as 14.708 square miles.

The local government structure for the city of Greenwood is a council-manager form of government. It is composed of a mayor and six member council. The city manager, appointed by the mayor, manages the day-to-day administrative duties related to the city. Also, the city manager is responsible for appointing departmental supervisors for the cty. The city of Greenwood consists of nine departments, all of which are online.



Downtown Greenwood, South Carolina

Like many business districts in cities across America, uptown Greenwood was born on the banks of a railroad. The first railroad came to Greenwood in 1852. The tracks of the Greenville & Columbia Railroad ran through the heart of what is now uptown Greenwood. The business district, which was then located on lower East Cambridge, began a gradual move to be nearer the tracks and the hustle and bustle, and potential for growth and prosperity that centered around the depots.

Through the enterprising efforts and progressive thinking of the townspeople, uptown Greenwood continued to grow and thrive. Examples of early businesses include Bailey, Barksdale & Company, a wholesale and retail business in groceries and general merchandise; Jervey & Company, a dealer in farmers' supplies, cotton and rice; and A. St. Clair Lee and W.R. Bailey, dealers in drugs, paints, oils, and wholesale and retail ice.

Up until the late 1890s, the majority of Greenwood's business district lay almost entirely on the east side of the railroad tracks. Private homes and vacant lots made up the west side. Development of the west side began when Joel S. Bailey decided to use his home site on the corner of Main and Maxwell as the site for a hotel.

The construction of the Oregon Hotel was a major event that would bring a measure of fame to uptown Greenwood. With 27 trains coming through on a daily basis, the hotel proved a great attraction, moving quickly from a favorite stopover for traveling salesmen to a convention center and gathering place for Greenwood's social elite. This tradition was ended in 1963 when the hotel burned. Uptown Greenwood did not have another hotel until 1985 when The Inn on the Square opened.

The success of the Oregon Hotel spurred a group of local businessmen (known as "The Syndicate") to purchase the adjoining block and develop it into offices, retail, and upstairs living. As a result of this development, a number of houses houses were moved, some more than once, to other locations in or near the uptown area.

Other important buildings in the history of uptown Greenwood include three "skyscrapers" or multi-office buildings. The first three stories of the Grier-Park Building, now called the Textile Building, were erected around 1910 followed by three more stories in 1919. In 1914, Citizens Trust Company erected the second office building to house the National Loan & Exchange Bank, one of Greenwood's early banks. This building became known as the Hodges Building in 1936 and is now part of the Greenwood Building. Third was the Commercial Trust Building, which was constructed on the site of the old Riley Hotel on the east side of the Square. This building has been known as the Professional Building and the Palmetto Building, but is recognized today as the Grier Building in tribute to the Bank of Greenwood and Abney Mills President F. E. Grier.

In the effort to keep pace with the twentieth century, uptown Greenwood has undergone many changes. The depots and railroads have long since given way to scenic landscaping along Main Street, which was once known as the widest in the world. A renovation effort in the early 1980s featured awnings and second story walkways on the facades of the buildings on both sides of Main Street. The awnings have since become the symbol of uptown Greenwood and distinguish this Main Street from those in surrounding towns and cities. Uptown Greenwood continues to thrive and remains, as always, the heart of Greenwood.


Established in Abbeville District (county) as Woodville, the town was granted a U.S. Post Office on August 24, 1837, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Albert Waller. On July 16, 1850, the town was officially renamed to Greenwood. In 1897, Greenwood County was created from Abbeville and Edgefield counties, and Greenwood was named the County Seat. Its Post Office has been in continuous operation ever since inception in 1837.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved