Greenville in Greenville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Prospect Hill Park
[East Face - Top Inscription]:
[East Face - Bottom Inscription]:
[North Face - Top Inscription]:
[North Face - Bottom Inscription]:
Alston built "Prospect Hill"
Mansion. Sold 1815 to Vardry
McBee, merchant, developer of
Greenville, public benefactor,
who lived here, 1835 - 1864
[West Face - Top Inscription]:
Class of 1935
[West Face - Bottom Inscription]:
City of Greenville
Michelin, Inc. Duke Power Company
Gerber, Inc. Southern Bell
Greenville junior League
Greenville High School, class of 1934
[South Face - Top Inscription]:
Greenville High School 1920 — 1938
Greenville Junior High School 1938 — 1966
Sterling High School 1967 — 1968
Erected by Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission and Greenville High School Class of 1935.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Education • Parks & Recreational Areas.
Location. 34° 51.096′ N, 82° 24.336′ W. Marker is in Greenville, South Carolina, in Greenville County. Marker is at the intersection of West Broad Street and West McBee Avenue, on the left when traveling north on West Broad Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Greenville SC 29601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Table Rock Watershed (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Saluda (Poinsett) Watershed (about 400 feet away); Reverence for Water: Feeding the Body, Feeling the Spirit (about 400 feet away); Cherokee in the Upcountry / Beginnings of Greenville Water (about 400 feet away); Lake Keowee Watershed (about 400 feet away); St Mary's Catholic Church (about 700 feet away); Textile HallHistoric Plants Garden (approx. 0.2 miles away); Historic River Cane (approx. 0.2 miles away); History of the Reedy River (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenville.
1. Prospect Hill
The history of Prospect Hill goes back to the late eighteenth century, when the village of Greenville consisted of a few public structures and scattered houses. On the first day of South Carolina's new land grant law of 1784, Colonel Thomas Brandon of Union District, one of many land speculators who surfaced after the Revolution, bought all of the land formerly owned by Greenville's first colonial settler, Richard Pearis. Pearis, a Loyalist, had all his lands confiscated by the new state government. In 1788, Lemuel Alston purchased 11,028 acres (including Thomas Brandon's land) encompassing the entire area of what would become downtown Greenville. He built a two-story wooden mansion on a swell in the land overlooking the city from the west and named it Prospect Hill. Later newspaper accounts record that the clapboard-covered house had two bedrooms on the first floor and four on the
Alston's hopes for land sales in Greenville did not meet his expectations (neither did his run for reelection to the South Carolina Congress), so he sold his land and moved to Alabama. Vardry McBee bought all of Alston's land, including his home, for $27,550 in 1815. A.V. Huff writes that in the same year McBee bought Prospect Hill, it was leased to Edmund Waddell, who turned the six-bedroom house into a hotel. It was the villages first documented hotel, a number of which were built in the next decades specifically to house summer residents from Charleston.
When Vardry McBee finally moved to Greenville from Lincolnton [N.C.] in 1836m he returned the Prospect Hill hotel back into a residence that he would live in until his death in 1864. A year after Vardry's death, the property was bought by John Westfield, who is remembered by the street that runs across the hill. (Source: A Guide to Historic Greenville, South Carolina by John M. Nolan (2008), pgs 81-82).
— Submitted April 23, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
At the same time that Elias Earle was constructing the wagon road, Lemuel J. Alston was laying out a village around the courthouse at the falls of the Reedy River. In 1797 Alston filed with the clerk of
There was no rush to purchase lots, since few Greenville County residents saw the need for building town houses or operating businesses in the village. The first sale of property in what was designated on the deed as "Greenville C.H. Village of Pleasantburg" took place on April 22, 1797, when Isaac Wickliffe purchased lots 11 and 12 on the northwest corner of the courthouse square for one hundred dollars. Over a year later, on September 5, 1798, John McBeth purchased the entire block of six lots on the southwest corner for six hundred dollars. A decade after the lots were first offered for sale, only twenty-six of the fifty-two had been sold. The name Pleasantburg had already dropped out of use -- replaced by Greenville Courthouse, or simply Greenville. (Source: Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont by Archie Vernon Huff (1995), pg 66.)
— Submitted April 23, 2010,
3. About Vardry McBee
Vardry McBee was perhaps the most pivotal figure in the history of our city and Greenville County as a whole. thanks to his business acumen and impressive foresight for how the community could grow and prosper.
A product of the Carolina frontier, McBee was born in 1775 on the eve of the American Revolution, a conflict that would prove formative in his early years. Both his father and older brother fought with the Patriots, at King's Mountain and the Battle of Cowpens. McBee himself never fought for American independence, but instead used his considerable fortune to improve the lives of his fellow citizens, appropriating his land and fortunes to public projects.
McBee opened the first textile mill on the Reedy River, but he saw value in a diversified economy. In his private business life, that meant he owned two flour mills, a cotton factory, and wool and paper mills. Publicly, even as he approached his 80s, it led him to champion the construction of a railroad line that connected Columbia and Greenville. In 1853, this line became the first rail to serve the community, and it would eventually become a turning point in the economy of the town. (Source: G: The Magazine of Greenville, Jan/Feb 09, pg 66.)
4. More About Vardry McBee
The early history of Greenville had no more interesting or significant figure than Vardry McBee, who in fact measured up to all that was intended when he was called "a model man of enterprise for the South and the country." After he had passed the high tide of life's activities, and twelve years before his death, which occurred at Greenville, January 23, 1864, in his eighty-ninth year, an interesting sketch of his career was published in De Bow's Review of September, 1852. It is a historic document, and the salient features of the article are reproduced here.
He was born in Spartanburg District of South Carolina, June 19, 1775, and the Revolutionary battles of Cowpens and Cedar Springs were fought within a few miles of his father's home, and he was old enough to see and be impressed by many events of that struggle. His parents came from Virginia and were among the earliest settlers of Upper Carolina. His father, though of the religious faith of the Friends, commanded a company for several years in the Revolution. After the war, being heavily in debt, he had to mortgage his property, including the famous Limestone Springs, and finally lost his fortune altogether.
Vardry had to leave school at the age of
While Mr. McBee did not become a resident of Greenville until 1836, he had bought in 1815 a large domain of several thousand acres in and around the village. At that time he had only a modest fortune, as
Soon after making the purchase he gave his personal impetus to industrial progress, building a flour mill in the village in 1817, another one of stone in 1829. Seven miles below the city on Reedy River, he developed from time to time a nucleus of manufactures, including grist mill, paper mill, cotton factory, and woolen mill —- all pioneer industries that have special interest to the modern industrial City of Greenville.
After removing to Greenville in 1836 he devoted himself to the improvement of his lands and agriculture. He would have been an exceptional farmer even in the twentieth century, since he abhorred the idea of "mining" the wealth of the soil, and always practiced the sound policy of steadily making his land better.
To quote the direct words of the article from which the above is taken: "It may with great truth be said of Mr. McBee, that very few men who have made their fortunes have appropriated so much of them to public purposes * * * Mr. McBee never engaged in an enterprise that did not succeed. As a saddler he commenced his fortune, had a high reputation for his work, and laid the foundation of that immense estate which he now owns. As a merchant, with numerous branches of his mercantile business at Lincolnton, Spartanburg, Greenville and elsewhere, during some fifty years, he has been everywhere successful. As an extensive manufacturer of cotton and woolen cloths and paper he has been equally
"In morality and all the proprieties of life, Mr. McBee has no superior. His habits are all strictly temperate and methodical. He is a man of great industry and activity. He retires to bed early and arises before daylight every morning. Having been crippled when a young man, by being thrown from a horse, he is not able to walk any distance. He consequently lives mostly in his saddle during the day. Although now nearly seventy-seven years old, he rides fifty miles a day, and feels no inconvenience from it. He enjoys fine health, though his constitution has always been delicate. There is the same uniformity and regularity in his dress that there is in his habits and manners. In person, Mr. McBee is small, with a mild and pleasing expression of face. In his manners he is kind and gentle, with the simplicity of a child. Seldom is he excited by anything, but there is in him a sleeping passion which is sometimes aroused."
In 1804 he married Miss Jane Alexander, daughter of Col. Elias Alexander of Rutherford County, North Carolina. The unfretted currents of their lives ran side by side for nearly sixty years, and she died less than two months after her beloved husband on March 13, 1864. A granddaughter of this historic couple is Mrs. C.M. Landrum of Greenville, from whom this data was secured. (Source: History of South Carolina, Volume 4 by Yates Snowden,
— Submitted April 23, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 19, 2008, by M. L. 'Mitch' Gambrell of Taylors, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 2,655 times since then and 280 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on September 19, 2008, by M. L. 'Mitch' Gambrell of Taylors, South Carolina. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on April 23, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 16. submitted on September 20, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 17, 18. submitted on April 23, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Christopher Busta-Peck was the editor who published this page.