Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anderson in Anderson County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The Church Street Heritage Plaza

“We were here.”

 
 
The Church Street Heritage Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane Marsteller, November 6, 2021
1. The Church Street Heritage Plaza Marker
Inscription.  Church Street was a thriving center for African-American commerce in Anderson, South Carolina from (circa) 1907 until 1980, when most of the buildings were torn down to make way for a parking lot. The citizens on Church Street were educated, professional business owners who served as role models. At its mid-century zenith, there were shoppers here by day and revelers by night. Artists and musicians lined the street engulfed by the thick aroma of barbecue, fried fish and festive libations.

Those who remember the uniqueness of Church Street describe it with wit and charm, even as they rue the circumstances that necessitated its existence and led to its extinction. After the Civil War ended in 1865, during the Reconstruction period; many states — including South Carolina — passed a set of laws known as “The Black Code” or “Jim Crow Laws” specifically designed to repress black people. The harsh realities of these laws kept African Americans from fully participating in economic, social and political systems.

During this bleak time, the entrepreneurs on Church Street found a way to flourish, creating their own vibrant economy in
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
a tight-knit business community.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, civil rights legislation led to the repeal of these draconian laws and to desegregation.

As integration progressed, those who previously supported the businesses on Church Street exercised their option to patronize “white-owned” businesses. This led to hard times for businesses on Church Street as their customer base splintered.

During the 1970s, the viability of the area waned. The buildings were razed for a parking lot at the end of the decade. Some businesses were relocated with the assistance of the City of Anderson, but most simply closed.

As the businesses disappeared, an effort led by “The Black Pioneers” called to honor Church Street so that its historic and economic contribution to Anderson would not be forgotten. “The Black Pioneers” were a group of former business owners, their family members and patrons who held Church Street dear. Their sentiment captured the attention of City leaders and the seeds of the Church Street Heritage Project were sown. A monument to honor the era was placed on the site when the parking lot opened in 1982.

In 2007, the project garnered renewed interest from the South Carolina Heritage Corridor. Because of this, funding was provided to gather oral histories of “The Black Pioneers” who lived and worked on Church Street.

Their
The Church Street Heritage Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 6, 2021
2. The Church Street Heritage Plaza Marker
memories were chronicled in the documentary film “Trading Church Street: Pride, Prejudice and a Parking Lot,” which premiered in 2008. Interest stimulated by the documentary spurred development plans to build a park here, on the original Church Street site.

This phase of the Church Street Heritage Project highlights the 1950s era of the street to salute this formidable and flavorful chapter of our past as it serves as a link to the future. It is a public art installation inspired by the words of the people who lived it and is titled “We were here.” It captures the character of the educated, successful business owners of Church Street in a bygone era while celebrating hard work and pride of ownership as a model for today.

As few artifacts of the era remain, this collaborative work with “The Black Pioneers” and professional artists gives our community the opportunity to visualize and appreciate the little-known history of Church Street. It is a tribute to the era, recalling its significance for current and future generations.

“It was just home sweet home.” — Mr. Johnny Williford, owner of The Tailor Shop - the last historic business on Church Street - 2008

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1907.
 
Location. 34° 
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
30.133′ N, 82° 38.955′ W. Marker is in Anderson, South Carolina, in Anderson County. Marker is on West Church Street west of South Main Street (State Highway 28). Marker is in the Church Street Heritage Plaza. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Anderson SC 29624, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. In Commemoration of Black Pioneers (here, next to this marker); More Than Food: Savoring the Flavor of Dignity (a few steps from this marker); Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work (a few steps from this marker); After Dark: Seeking Harmony in Music and Culture (within shouting distance of this marker); Bank of Anderson Building - ca. 1891 (within shouting distance of this marker); Masonic Temple -- 1889 (within shouting distance of this marker); Sullivan Hardware Co. -- 1875 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Four Way Test (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anderson.
 
Also see . . .  Welcome to Church Street Heritage Plaza. Home page for the project to commemorate the once-thriving commercial hub of Anderson's African-American community. The site features historical photographs, audio recollections and a documentary. (Submitted on November 9, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 6, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 438 times since then and 235 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on November 6, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.   2. submitted on November 9, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr
m=185372

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
This website earns income from purchases you make after using our links to Amazon.com. We appreciate your support.
Paid Advertisement
Jul. 22, 2024