Greenwood council OKs cultural district application
By: Adam Benson
A group of Uptown arts supporters on Monday put its weight behind a push by city leaders to make Greenwood the state’s eighth cultural district – saying the move would position the merchant district for even more growth.
“When I was a senior at Emerald in 2003, having lived here most of my life, I couldn’t wait to get out of Greenwood. I felt it was a nothing town going nowhere fast. I now stand before you as one of Greenwood’s biggest fans,” T.J. Jenks, general manager of Montague’s Restaurant, told the City Council. “I love inviting friends and family to come and enjoy Greenwood and love what we have to offer.”
Currently, there are seven cultural districts in the state: Beaufort, Bluffton, Congaree Vista in Columbia, Florence, Lancaster, Rock Hill and Spartanburg.
If the state Arts Commission approves Greenwood’s request, the city can add satellite locations. Officials said Lander University and the Benjamin E. Mays House Museum are among early candidates.
Greenwood Arts Center Director Anne Craig, who spearheaded efforts to secure the state designation, said being included on the list of cultural districts will give Uptown a larger profile across South Carolina.
Officials have identified 25 points of interest – from landmarks such as Inn on the Square and the Sundance Gallery to its restaurants that double as music venues – as part of the district.
A requirement for consideration as a cultural district is local government support through a resolution.
Lesley Lane, who manages The Greenwood Building, said backing the cultural district sends a strong message to potential businesses looking at relocating or expanding.
“A cultural district adds value to our city. Over the last several years, our clients have become increasingly concerned with the cultural environment in which they do business. These entrepreneurs want to be in the heart of a vibrant, thriving downtown,” Lane said.
The City Council resolution heaps praise on Uptown’s assets and cultural facilities – along with the progress that has been made in bringing the area back from its post-Civil War heyday.
“Uptown Greenwood is the geographical, cultural and historical center of the railroad and mill town in Upstate South Carolina that had its greatest period of growth from 1890 to 1920. Now, roughly a century later, Greenwood has restored many of its commercial buildings to that same period, revitalizing the ‘Uptown’ area into a great public space,” according to the resolution.
The council voted 7-0 in favor of it.
“I couldn’t have a deeper sense of gratitude for the tireless and dogged efforts that everybody has made, and we keep moving forward. Many would say Greenwood has gotten lucky, but I would say it’s the planning, hard work and dedication of many, many people,” Jenks said. “The future now feels very bright.”