Greenville in Greenville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Joel Roberts Poinsett
Born in Charleston, S.C., educated in this country and Great Britain, he travelled widely in Europe and Asia before returning to a distinguished career. He served South Carolina in the state legislature, 1816-1820; 1830-1832; and as Chairman of the Board of Public Works 1818-1820. He represented S.C. in Congress 1821-1825, was first American Minister to Mexico 1825-1829, and Secretary of War 1837-1841.
Planter. Writer. Botanist. Diplomat. Statesman. Joel R. Poinsett had a summer home near here dividing his time in later life between it and his plantation on the Peedee River. He brought the lovely poinsettia to this country from Mexico. His cultural interests and scientific pursuits earned him the title "Versatile American." He died December 12, 1851, at Stateburg, S.C., and was buried there at the Church of the Holy Cross.
Erected 1968 by Greenville County Historical Society. (Marker Number 23-11.)
Location. 34° 50.933′ N, 82° 23.997′ W. Marker is in Greenville, South Carolina, in Greenville County. Marker is at the intersection of South Main Street and West Court Street on South Main Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 120 South Main Street, Greenville SC 29601, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Poinsett's Spring (a few steps from this marker); Vardry McBee (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Joel Roberts Poinsett (within shouting distance of this marker); The Old Record Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Chamber of Commerce Building (within shouting distance of this marker); South Carolina's First National Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); Greenville County Courthouse - The Willie Earle Lynching Trial (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named South Carolina's First National Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); Spirit of Freedom (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); City of Greenville 9-11 Plaque (about 300 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Greenville.
More about this marker. The marker is located near the front entrance of the historic Westin Poinsett Hotel (named for Joel Poinsett) and across the street from the old Chamber of Commerce Building. The front side faces North Main; the reverse faces South Main.
Regarding Joel Roberts Poinsett. Joel Poinsett's influence is found throughout Greenville County. Items and locations named for him include a bridge, club, hotel, highway, and charitable society.
Also see . . .
1. History of Joel Roberts Poinsett. Joel Roberts Poinsett was born on March 2nd, 1779 in Charleston, South Carolina.
2. Joel Roberts Poinsett. Joel Roberts Poinsett (March 2, 1779 – December 12, 1851) was a physician, botanist and American statesman.
3. Joel Roberts Poinsett > Find-a-Grave Memorial. Birth: Mar. 2, 1779, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina. Death: Dec. 12, 1851, Stateburg Sumter County, South Carolina.
4. Full text of The Life and Services of Joel R. Poinsett. Through the courtesy of the surviving member of Mr. Poinsett's family, the Historical Society has been placed in the possession of a mass of papers which illustrate very fully his public and his private life.
5. Genealogy of a Poinsett Family by Charles L Ralph (1995). Detailed document on the genealogy of the Poinsett family in America, including Joel R. Poinsett.
6. Euphorbia pulcherrima. Euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly named poinsettia, is a species of flowering plant indigenous to Mexico and Guatemala.
7. How the Poinsettia came to the United States. "The poinsettia may have remained a regional plant for many years to come had it not been for the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett"
8. Poinsett Hotel. The Poinsett Hotel was one of the first skyscrapers to be constructed in Greenville.
9. The Poinsett Hotel Plaza Restoration and Construction. A collection of photos showing the restoration of the hotel and construction of the plaza.
10. The Westin Poinsett. The Westin Poinsett was named after South Carolina statesman Joel R. Poinsett, who introduced the poinsettia flower to America, and the moment it opened in 1925, the hotel has lived up to the floral allusions of its name.
11. Poinsett Hotel Officially Reopens (2002 News Article). Greenville celebrated the official reopening of the landmark Poinsett Hotel on Friday, kicking off a weekend of benefit galas.
12. Elegant Dover Traction Elevator at the Westin Poinsett - Greenville, SC. Interesting video of an elevator-obsessed man...but there are some scenes from the hotel's interior.
13. Poinsett Bridge. Poinsett Bridge, which is named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, was built in 1820 as part of a road from Columbia, South Carolina to Saluda Mountain.
14. Poinsett Bridge Historical Marker. Marker located in northern Greenville County dedicated to a gothic stone bridge named for Poinsett.
15. The Poinsett Club. The Poinsett Club is known as one of the finest private clubs in America.
1. About Joel Robert Poinsett
It's widely known that Joel Poinsett was the first ambassador to Mexico, a position he held for five years, but he also served as the first consul-general of the United States to Buenos Aries, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile. He studied medicine and law, and not surprisingly was extremely well traveled, but he also had interests in natural history, science, and politics.
While serving in the South Carolina legislature, Poinsett was appointed president of the board of public works from 1819 to 1821, a position that had him overseeing construction of the state road that traversed Saluda Mountain. This road (modern-day S.C. Secondary Road 42) ran from Charleston, through Columbia, and into North Carolina, creating a seamless connector capable of accommodating even the "heaviest load," in places of several ineffective roads already in existence. Not surprisingly, more than twenty years later, he would join Vardry McBee and others to support connecting Columbia and Greenville by rail. (Source: G: The Magazine of Greenville, Jan/Feb 09, pg 68.)
2. Joel Poinsett: History in Brief
At a Glance Poinsett was an eternal public servant and an amateur botanist. He served in both the South Carolina legislature and the U.S. Congress, was appointed secretary of war, and served as an ambassador to several countries.
Claim to Fame During his tenure as the first U.S. minister to Mexico from 1825-1830, Poinsett brought with him the Euphorbia pulchernima plant, now known as the poinsettia.
Did You Know? Poinsett was named secretary of war by President Martin Van Buren, and during that tenure he worked with other like-minded public servants to found the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor to the Smithsonian Institute.
A Grave Tale Poinsett was a summer resident of Greenville, and died en route from Charleston to Greenville in 1851 at the home of Dr. William Anderson in Statesburg, South Carolina. He is buried in the churchyard of the Church of the Holy Cross there, where his tombstone reads, "A pure patriot, an honest man, and a good Christian." (Source: G: The Magazine of Greenville, Jan/Feb 09, pg 69.)
3. Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 - 1851)
Poinsett, Joel Roberts, a Representative from South Carolina; born in Charleston, S.C., March 2, 1779; spent his early childhood in England; returned to America in 1788; attended private school at Greenfield Hill, Conn., and later in Wandsworth, near London, England; studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and attended the military school in Woolwich, England; returned to Charleston, S.C., in 1800; studied law for a few months; traveled extensively in Europe from 1801 to 1809, returning to the United States for short intervals; sent to South America by President Madison in 1809 to investigate the prospects of the revolutionists there in their struggle for independence from Spain; returned to Charleston, S.C., in 1816; member of the state house of representatives 1816-1819; served as president of the board of public works; declined the offer of commissioner to South America by President Monroe; elected as a Republican to the Seventeenth Congress reelected as a Jackson Republican to the Eighteenth Congress, and elected as a Jacksonian to the Nineteenth Congress and served from March 4, 1821, to March 7, 1825, when he resigned to enter the diplomatic service; Minister to Mexico 1825-1829; member of the state house of representatives, 1830-1831; Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President
4. About the Poinsett Hotel
Built in 1925 at a cost of $1.5 million, the Poinsett hotel was designed by W.L. Stoddard, a New York architect, and built by the J.E. Sirrine Company of Greenville. The Poinsett is a twelve-story skyscraper with a narrow rectangular plan and an L-shaped facade. The four-story base of the Poinsett is highlighted by tall arched windows that span the second and third stories.
The Poinsett Hotel was one of the first skyscrapers to be constructed in Greenville. The hotel, named after Joel R. Poinsett, the Secretary of War under President Fillmore, was touted as "South Carolina's finest." It was built on the site of the Mansion House, an 1824 resort hotel. The Poinsett Hotel marks an era of Greenvilles building boom and growth in the 1920s. It has remained open as a hotel until recent years, when it was converted into apartments for the elderly. [Ed. Note: The hotel has since reopened.] The interior retains much of its original fabric, including decorative plaster work and marble. William L. Stoddard, the hotel's architect, was a distinguished New york architect who designed major hotels in many cities across the nation, including the Charleston, South Carolina hotel. The Poinsett Hotel exemplifies the early twentieth century mode of skyscraper construction and composition. (Source: National Registration nomination form.)
5. About the Poinsett Hotel
About the same time, a building boom began that changed the skyline of the city. In March 1924 the News pronounced that "1924 promises to become the greatest building year in Greenville's history. Already business and residential construction worth about $810,000 is underway." That figure did not include the Poinsett Hotel and the Chamber of Commerce Building, whose projected costs were $1.25 million.
The Poinsett Hotel, which was planned to replace the century-old Mansion House, was the brainchild of John T. Woodside and William Goldsmith who formed the Community Hotel Corporation to build a "million dollar hotel. "59 The Mansion House was razed, and the ground breaking for the new twelve-story hotel took place on May 30,1924. W. L. Stoddard of New York was the architect, and Hunkin and Conkey of Cleveland, Ohio, was the contractor for the hotel. The Poinsett eventually cost $1.5 million and opened one hundred rooms in June 1925. An arcade led into the building from Main Street, and a half-flight of marble stairs rose to the lobby, which was paneled in walnut. The ballroom, according to the News) was "a thing of wondrous beauty." The first manager of the Poinsett was Charles G.
6. About the Poinsett Bridge
A massive stone bridge with pointed arches of rough wedge-shaped blocks under which runs Gap Creek, a mountain stream. Constructed without concrete in 1820, the date inscribed on its keystone, the bridge was part of the old State Road from Charleston to North Carolina.
Tulane University Library has a brush drawing by Robert Mills of a bridge with Gothic arches and a keystone identical to those of Poinsett Bridge, which lends credence to the popular belief that Mills designed the bridge. In 1820, Mills became State Architect and Engineer for the South Carolina Board of Public Works. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
7. Poinsett Hotel Historic Significance
Poinsett Hotel (added 1982 - Building - #82003863)
120 S. Main St., Greenville
Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer: Stoddard,W.L.
Architectural Style: Skyscraper
Area of Significance: Architecture
Period of Significance: 1925-1949
Historic Function: Domestic
Historic Sub-function: Hotel
Current Function: Health Care
Current Sub-function: Sanatorium
Categories. • Notable Persons • Politics •
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