Pictorial Tour of antebellum Greenville Area Sites

This tour was produced by undergraduate researcher Drew Feight with funding from the Furman Advantage peer research program.


The purpose of this tour is to give students and internet surfers a chance to look at representative buildings and sites in Greenville, South Carolina from the period before 1861. The buildings date from as early as the 1790s and as late as 1860. When looking at these buildings and sites, students are asked to pay special attention to location, to materials, craftsmanship, and sophistication, to the balance between form and function, and to the social image the nineteenth century owners and occupants were trying to project. Viewers of the tour should reflect on the effects of subsequent construction. Most buildings from the era have long since been replaced or demolished; consider why these particular ones survived.

1. 1790s Cabin
(location: on the Greenville to Asheville Highway, six miles from downtown Greenville)
This log cabin from the 1790s continues to be occupied today. It is a typical habitation for the early antebellum period, particularly for recently settled areas. Although the cabin appears to be a purely functional dwelling, think about the variety of other shelters that could accomplish the same purposes, such as the houses built by the Cherokee predecessors of this settlement. Why this particular form? Also consider the cabin's political implications in the age of the "Log Cabin and Hard Cider campaign." (no picture available)

2. Hawkins Homestead
(Location: a half-mile north of the 1790s cabin)
The Hawkins homestead has evolved considerably over time. The right half of the house is a log cabin that the owners upgraded with clapboards. The two-story left half of the house was added sometime during the mid-nineteenth century. In the rear is a recent brick addition. The Hawkins homestead is more typical of southern planter's residences than white-columned mansions such as Cherrydale, seen in stop number three.
hawkins house photo here

3. James Clement Furman House
(Location: three miles northwest of downtown Greenville)
This house was built by George Washington Green and bought by James C. Furman in 1857. Furman, a Baptist clergyman and pro-slavery advocate, was the first President of Furman University. The house, known as Cherrydale, is now owned by the Stone family, who are important in local manufacturing. The Stone/Umbro plant located in front of this Greek Revival structure is also owned by the family, and the property is sometimes cited as a classic example of the Old South's relationship to the New South.
James C. Furman house photo>
4.  Frank B. McBee House
(location: five blocks west of downtown Greenville)
This home was built circa 1860 for Frank B. McBee, a 
relative of Vardry McBee, one of Greenville's most 
influential early citizens.  When constructed, the house was 
one of the first on the street.  At that time the entire 
neighborhood belonged to the McBee family.  In what ways 
does the design reflect the prevailing values of the era?

5. Christ Episcopal Church
(Location: downtown Greenville)
This congregation was founded in 1821 by seasonal residents from the South Carolina low-country. Locals called this the "snap-bean" church, since most of its members attended only when snap-beans were in season. The church itself dates from 1852. Town father Vardry McBee and South Carolinas reconstruction Governor Benjamin F. Perry are buried in the graveyard. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. Note that the northern and southern transoms were added after 1880. (no picture available)

6. Kilgore-Lewis House
(Location: downtown Greenville)
This home was built in the 1830s for South Carolina State Representative Josiah Kilgore. Kilgore was also a planter, mill-owner, and railroad promoter. The house was originally located on Buncombe Street. The building, constructed with slave labor, was an exact duplicate of Kilgore's plantation house in the southern part of the county, copied so the inhabitants would feel at home wherever they might be. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kilgore house photo

7. Beattie House
(Location: downtown Greenville)
This house was constructed in 1834 at the direction of Fountain Fox Beattie as wedding present for his bride. The home was originally located downtown near the courthouse square. The gingerbread ornamentation found on its exterior was probably added in the late 1870s. The Beatties received their income as merchants in the textile business, and later in banking. Their home is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Beatty house photo here

8. Gilreath's Mill
(Location: ten miles north of downtown Greenville)
This grist mill was constructed before 1841 for Joel Bruce by a local carpenter. Some of the mill's original machinery is still housed inside. Water for the mill wheel would have come from a small dam and penstock located upstream. The iron water wheel would have been originally constructed of wood. P.D. Gilreath purchased the mill in 1890. Reflect on the expenses of constructing such a mill, relative to the large textile plants constructed in the 1890s and 1900s.

9. Reid House, Reidville, South Carolina
(Location: about 15 miles northeast of Greenville)
This house was built for Rev. Robert Harden Reid in 1857. Reid founded the Reidville Academy in 1857. In its heyday during the 1870s the academy attracted students from seven states in the southeast. There is a kitchen addition attached to the rear of the house and also a separate building that served as Rev. Reid's office. (no photo available)

10. Female Dormitory
(Location: adjacent to Dr. Reid's house)
This building, built in 1858, was the female dormitory for the Female Academy and later the Reidville Female College. Teachers at the academy boarded with local families in the town.
(no photo available)

11. Male Dormitory
(Location: a half mile north of the female academy)
This building was constructed for the boys attending the Male Academy, and is quite plain in style.
Male Dorm photo here

12. Wilson's Store
(Location: halfway between the two dormitories)
The two story brick store on the left was built around 1860 for L. Wilson, who lived in the white-columned house on the right. The stucco facade of this building hides the brickwork beneath.
Wilson's/Leonard's photo here

13. Leonard's Store
(Location: on the crossroads, to the right of Wilson's store)
Built in about 1860, this small rectangular brick store across from Wilson's was owned and run by a Mr. Leonard. Both of these stores sold dry goods and supplies to the Academy students and professors, townspeople, and nearby farmers.

14. Wilson House
(Location: across the street and two houses south from the two stores)
This home was constructed around 1860 by L. Wilson, store owner and teacher at the Reidville Academy. The columns are representative of the Greek Revival style. The classical nature of the exterior was altered in the last quarter of the nineteenth century by the vertical jagged wood paneling on the pediment of the portico and roof.
Wilson house photo here
15. Leonard-Snow House
(Location: next to the Wilson House)
Built in 1858 for a local merchant, a Mr. Leonard, who ran the small store on the corner of Main and Gaston. (no picture available)

16. Wood House
(Location: across the street from the Wilson house)
Built around 1860, the stucco exterior of recent years conceals the brickwork beneath. Take a moment to consider the community as a whole. How compact is the town? How do the various buildings relate to each other? In what respects is it different from the typical modern community?
Wood house photo here

17. McBee Chapel
(location: four miles east of Greenville, in the village of Conestee, South Carolina)
This brick octagonal church is one of the few of its style remaining in America. The church was built in 1841 by Vardry McBee for the local mill workers. Notice the simplicity that is representative of antebellum republicanism and piety. How does this structure contrast with Christ church?
McBee Chapel photo here

This tour guide was produced by Drew Feight and Lloyd Benson with the assistance of the Furman Advantage program, October 1992. For copies of the original, including driving instructions,
contact us through e-mail at BENSON_LLOYD/FURMAN@FURMAN.EDU

Return to Lloyd Benson's Home Page