Sunday, September 19, 2010

Greenville Love

A little while has passed since the end of our vacation/research trip to Greenville, South Carolina. Time that we needed to rest, recuperate, and think. And now that I’ve thought about it, I can put it in perspective.

Best. Vacation. Ever.

We fell in love with Greenville, and are missing it already. We packed a lot of activities, research, and picture-taking into a short period of time, so it will probably take several posts to cover it all.

Right now Greenville is my favorite city in the United States. It is small, beautiful, and friendly. It has an interesting history with some fascinating characters and there are small touches of thoughtfulness and beauty all around the city. For a researcher with ancestors in the area, it is a real Mecca. The Hughes Main Library of Greenville is simply fabulous, with a friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff. They have extended operating hours – 9:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 2:00 to 6:00 on Sunday. The Library’s online presence is incredibly helpful (though finding aids are on the Library’s own website, some of the South Carolina Room materials are actually located on the Greenville County Government website). The shelves in the South Carolina Room contain tons of hard-copy and microfilm references for the South Carolina researcher. The place was actually my “home away from home” for three days and a little (that “little day” – the last morning of our stay – is actually a story in itself).

Despite those almost “9 to 9” days, however, we got to walk around and see and experience a good bit of the town. On the day of our arrival and thereafter early each morning, at lunch and dinner, and even after the Library closed we tried to cover different areas of the city.

There are a number of lovely hotels on Main Street and my cousins had tremendous praise for the hotel where they stayed just outside the city, but I would recommend our hotel, the Hampton Inn at River Place. It also had a wonderful staff, and we ended up having long conversations with a couple of people who work there. One was a lady who I believe is a supervisor there; she struck up our acquaintance at breakfast on our last day and had lots of information on the area. Our first night we came back quite late from a walk down Main Street and struck up a conversation with the young man at the front desk. It turned out that he had just started to take advantage of Ancestry’s offer of free access to immigration records and is very excited about pursuing his family history, which largely consists of immigrants from Hungary, Poland, and Austria (we told him that with that combination of countries, he must be “nash” – “one of ours,” i.e., from the Rusyn-Carpathian background of many members of our church). I gave him some hints for websites to check and we talked for at least a half hour about genealogy. Have to take every opportunity to encourage young people to research their families! We repeated this “stop and talk” experience all over the city – at restaurants, stores, the Library, and even the bank (where they got to know me well, as I ended up stopping there three mornings in a row for more quarters). If our daughters were still little and had accompanied us on this trip, it would have been the Ninth Circle of Hell for them, the one in which Mom Stops and Talks Endlessly with Strangers in Public.

To return to the subject of our hotel, the location is just superb – right on the Reedy River just where Main Street passes over the river. This area has been converted into a spot of beauty that is wonderful for families, tourists, joggers, artists, and everybody else. The water motif is incorporated into the design; here (and elsewhere downtown) there are little manmade waterfalls, water sculptures, and fountains that enhance the beauty and make the town feel cooler and more comfortable on hot days.

Below are a few pictures of the area around our hotel and at the Hughes Main Library (plus one taken on the way to South Carolina). More on Greenville and our adventures and research there will follow.

The Trucker’s Chapel at a truckers’ stop in North Carolina; taken on our way to Greenville

Our hotel, the Hampton Inn at River Place

The view outside our hotel

The steps and manmade waterfalls leading down from our hotel to the river bank.

The little falls and wading area at the bottom of the steps. This area is part of the 13.55-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail run by the Greenville Hospital System. Our section of the trail led from a delightful children’s park/garden in an underpass area (!) in the west to the Greenville Zoo in the east (pictures later).

The remains of the old C.F. Sauer Building, part of the old Huguenot Mill complex; it has now been transformed into the Wyche Pavilion, a venue for special events. Together with a couple of other buildings from the original mill, it is managed by The Peace Center.

The Peace Center Amphitheatre right next to the Wyche Pavilion. Both are located across the Reedy River from our hotel. On Wednesday evenings they show movies here. We would have watched the movie on Wednesday night, but decided to give “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” a pass.

The walking path bridge that passes over the Reedy River and the far bank of the river from our hotel. Little landscaped areas like the one at the lower right are tucked in everywhere throughout the downtown area.

The Reedy River as it passes under the Main Street Bridge.

Ducks enjoying the early morning sun on the Reedy River.

My “home away from home” during our stay in Greenville: The Hughes Main Library of the Greenville County Library System.


  1. Looking forward to reading more about your trip - especially how the wand scanner worked out! I'm starting to plan a trip to neighboring Laurens County that I hope to make a little later this fall.

  2. Greta, what a recommendation for Greenville, SC. I can see why you like it, totally different than where you now live, more open space and a slower pace. Hope you can get back there again...soon.

  3. Sounds wonderful, I have to go check my data base, see if I have any excuse at all to put Greenville on my bucket list! Great photos.

  4. Linda, Barbara, Carol - I'm hoping you can all make it to Greenville some day. You'll love it! Linda - the whole area seems to be research friendly - I know there's a lot of stuff in Anderson, also, so I'm betting you'll have a fabulous time in Laurens. Barbara - yup, we're already planning the next trip. Didn't get to see everything or even exhaust the Library's resources this trip. Carol - definitely try to get there some day!