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Anderson in Anderson County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work

 
 
Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane Marsteller, November 6, 2021
1. Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker
Inscription.  
“I always tell people, you can make it if you try. People on Church Street tried and they made a good living.” — Mr. Roosevelt Thompson
“I learned to be a tailor in New York City. I came to Church Street because that was where the black people were and it was good business for me.” — Mr. Johnny Williford
“Church Street had a great impact. It showed us about the initiative to own something. It was hard for blacks to get a hank loan back then, so it was hard to get established. It was something to look at that showed the value of hard work.” — Mrs. Mary Frances Wardlaw
“Church Street was a good place for children to learn. They learned business and bow to serve. They learned the value of money and ownership and the chance to be entrepreneurs.” — Coach William Roberts
Church Street boasted a premier business climate and an array of commercial options. There were barbershops, tailors, doctors, dentists, funeral homes, restaurants and more. It was like a miniature city, offering just about everything a consumer could
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want. At its peak, it had a thriving economic base which would be enviable to any modern city. The business owners and merchants there built a strong support system. They had respect for each other and for their patrons.

In addition to its lively environment, Church Street stood as an iconic example of the fruits of education and hard work. The harsh and racially motivated restrictions of the era made it difficult for African Americans to make a living wage, much less have the opportunity of ownership. The business owners on Church Street overcame those obstacles through fierce determination. This made them role models and among the most respected citizens in Anderson.

During its history, more than 300 businesses were located in this short 3 or 4 block area, with at least 100 at any given time. Not only did these businesses serve the black community, they also made a significant contribution to the overall economy of the City of Anderson as a regional draw for nearly a century.

When integration evolved in the 1950s and 60s, African-American consumers had more options and the businesses on Church Street did not have the capital to compete. As the sustainability of the area seemed doomed in the wake of changing times, City leaders opted to raze the buildings to make room for a parking lot, a common practice in 1970s America. Most buildings were two-stories
Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker detail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 6, 2021
2. Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker detail
with turn-of-the-century style architecture that looked much like the rest of downtown Anderson. Experts have noted that had the buildings survived, Church Street would probably be among the most desirable streets in Anderson.

“In its prime, in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Church Street was the place to be — a meeting place for friends and just plain fun. And it provided a significant financial contribution to the City in the form of business licenses, taxes and more.” — Dr. Beatrice Thompson
“Starting a business was the only thing you could do. There was no future; there was no vision. You just existed. You couldn't get good housing, there was no transportation system. You could buy an old raggedy car, maybe. It was the only place where there was an economic base for black people … everything centered around Church Street in those days.” — Mr. Patrick Flack
“When I was a child, my father took me to Church Street to inspire me. Many of the business people were college graduates and had children who attended colleges all over the east coast. A prominent businessman named W. I. Peek is a good example. He owned a restaurant and a funeral home and was an icon on Church Street. He helped me and lots of other young men from Andersen to attend Tuskegee Institute.” — Mr. Al Norris

 
Topics.
Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker detail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 6, 2021
3. Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker detail
This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansEducationIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 34° 30.141′ N, 82° 38.945′ W. Marker is in Anderson, South Carolina, in Anderson County. Marker is on East Church Street west of South McDuffie Street. Marker is in 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 (a few steps from this marker); After Dark: Seeking Harmony in Music and Culture (a few steps from this marker); The Church Street Heritage Plaza (a few steps from this marker); More Than Food: Savoring the Flavor of Dignity (a few steps from this marker); Masonic Temple -- 1889 (within shouting distance of this marker); Bank of Anderson Building - ca. 1891 (within shouting distance of this marker); Sullivan Hardware Co. -- 1875 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Four Way Test (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anderson.
 
Also see . . .  Welcome to Church Street Heritage Plaza. Home page for the
Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker detail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 6, 2021
4. Beyond Commerce: Building a Legacy of Hard Work Marker detail
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 208 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on November 6, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.   2, 3, 4. submitted on November 9, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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May. 20, 2024