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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Greenville in Greenville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Chamber of Commerce Building

 
 
Chamber of Commerce Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, February 20, 2010
1. Chamber of Commerce Building Marker
Inscription.
The National Register
of Historic Places:
Chamber of Commerce Building

 
Erected 1982.
 
Location. 34° 50.9′ N, 82° 23.983′ W. Marker is in Greenville, South Carolina, in Greenville County. Marker is on South Main Street near Court Square, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 130 South Main Street, Greenville SC 29601, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Old Record Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Vardry McBee (within shouting distance of this marker); Joel Roberts Poinsett (within shouting distance of this marker); Spirit of Freedom (within shouting distance of this marker); City of Greenville 9-11 Plaque (within shouting distance of this marker); Poinsett's Spring (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Joel Roberts Poinsett (within shouting distance of this marker); Greenville County Courthouse / The Willie Earle Lynching Trial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Francis Marion (about 400 feet away); Thomas Sumter (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenville.
 
Also see . . .
Chamber of Commerce Building<br>West (Front) Facade image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, February 20, 2010
2. Chamber of Commerce Building
West (Front) Facade

1. Chamber of Commerce Building. The Chamber of Commerce Building was one of the first skyscrapers to be built in Greenville. (Submitted on March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Official website of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce. (Submitted on March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Clemson Renaissance Center to reside in Liberty Building. The new Clemson Renaissance Center, a unit of the university’s College of Business and Behavioral Science, will bring entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership education activities to Greenville in a central, historic location – the Liberty Building, built in 1925, at 135 South Main Street. (Submitted on March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Welcome to the Renaissance Center: Clemson University. We work every day to bring business and community leaders, faculty and graduate students together for conversations. (Submitted on March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Chamber of Commerce Building - National Register Nomination Form
Description
The ten-story rectangular Chamber of Commerce Building was constructed in 1925. The
Chamber of Commerce Building<br>Main Entrance Detail image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, February 20, 2010
3. Chamber of Commerce Building
Main Entrance Detail
firm of Beacham and LeGrand designed the building -- J.E. Sirrine and Company served as engineers. The Minter Homes Company built the building. The skyscraper has brick sheathing laid in Flemish bond and a first story with smooth ashlar stone quoins. The two-story base has classical detailing: stone sills and architraves, a stone door surround featuring two eagle motifs, and stone keystones over the first floor windows. A stone cornice separates the first story from the seven-story intermediate shaft of the building. This shaft is unornamented with three bays on the facade and seven bays on each side. The composition is crowned by a tall capital, or roof, story, which features tall arched windows above a stone belt course. A brick and stone frieze with transoms and stone panels is below the broad cornice that terminates the building. This cornice, of metal, has large modillions, floral-pattern paterae in its soffit between the modillions, and corner acroterious, with antefixae along the edge of the cornice.

Significance
The Chamber of Commerce Building was one of the first skyscrapers to be built in Greenville. The building was constructed in a period when Greenville was enjoying a high level of prosperity. The Chamber of Commerce Building was part of the building wave that flourished in Greenville in the 1920's. Architecturally, the Chamber of Commerce Building
Liberty Clock<br>Poinsett Hotel in Background image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, June 1, 2008
4. Liberty Clock
Poinsett Hotel in Background
is a fine example of skyscraper design of the early twentieth century. The building shows the influence of the Chicago School of skyscraper design and also of the Neoclassical style. The composition--a tripartite design with base, shaft, and capital--is based on the classical column.

The building housed the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and various other offices until the early 1970s. It is presently vacant, although plans are underway for conversions of the building into condominium units.
    — Submitted March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. Chamber of Commerce/Liberty Building
The site of the Liberty Building on Court Square holds an important position in the history of Greenville. Only two structures are ever known to have stood here. When Lemuel Alston laid out the plat for Pleasantburg in 1797, the property where the Liberty Building now stands was planned as a street for public use to lead down to the city gaol (jail). In 1822-23 the new Greenville County Court was built on this site. It was designed by architect Robert Mills, who would later be known as America's greatest early architect. As the building approached its century mark, high maintenance and difficulty with modification caused officials to make way for the "progress" of the
Chamber of Commerce Building<br>East (Rear) Facade image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, February 20, 2010
5. Chamber of Commerce Building
East (Rear) Facade
building boom of the 1920s. According to Henry McKoy, the Record Building (as it was then called) was coated entirely with a bright purple paint for the last several years of its existence. What makes this even more remarkable was that the law office building directly to the right of the Record Building was called the Blue Building and was painted entirely blue. As a result, Greenville at one time had the beginnings of its own Rainbow Row! In spite of its historical significance and classical beauty, the Record Building was demolished exactly one hundred years after its erection to make way for the chamber of commerce.

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, Greenville's textile-driven "New South" economy was causing a flurry of new buildings, especially skyscrapers around Court Square. Just off the Square on West Court Street, the four-story Carolina Supply Co. Building was built in 1914. The new county courthouse was built from Records Building was under construction from 1916 to 1918. A few blocks north saw the completion of the seventeen-story Woodside Building in 1923. Bricks, steel and other building supplies must have caused quite a few headaches from traffic and noise during those years. The Poinsett Hotel and the new Chamber of Commerce Building were simultaneously being built on the square during 1924-25.

The chamber skyscraper was planned
Chamber of Commerce Building<br>From the Roof of Soby's Loft image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 21, 2009
6. Chamber of Commerce Building
From the Roof of Soby's Loft
to be finished in 1924 (the stone surround on the entryway even bears the date MCMXXIV), but contractor problems caused delays that pushed back the opening until 1925, at a cost of about $250,000. Beachem & Legrand designed the ten-story building and J.E. Sirrine & Co. was the engineer. Mintor-Holes Company started the construction and Potter-Shackleford Co. finished the job after the former went bankrupt. Large stone quoins set off the corners of the first floor, while the impressive metal cornice roofline accentuates the top of the building with a large overhang.

The chamber had the great ambition to ride the tide of the swelling economy with its impressive new building, tough it was unable to weather the storm caused by the Great Depression. However, one local business, Liberty Life Insurance Co., grew strong during those years and took over the Chamber of Commerce Building in 1931. Liberty had established the insurance industry as a driving force in Greenville's economy, followed by others such as Canal Insurance Co. and Equity Life and Annuity Co. locating their headquarters here. Under the visionary leadership of successive members of the Hipp family, Liberty became one of the top insurance companies in the nation. It is one of the most successful homegrown businesses in Greenville history. Because the prominent company associated with this building for several generations,
Panorama View of Main Street, Looking North image. Click for full size.
William B. Coxe Collection, Greenville County Historical Society
7. Panorama View of Main Street, Looking North
Chamber of Commerce Building was built on the site of the Old Record Building, shown in the Far Right.
it is locally referred to as the Liberty Building. Though the Liberty Corp. was bought out in recent years, the city is peppered with landmarks that have their names associated with it. Besides the Liberty Building, the old-time clock in front of the building and the Liberty Bridge honor the company's name through its generous donations for the beautification of the city.

Liberty outgrew the building in 1968 and moved into its new office complex on Wade Hampton Boulevard (then the largest office complex in the state). Meanwhile, the old chamber building was leased until it was sold in 1977 and given to North Greenville College to hold downtown classes. Needed improvements came in 1983 from Atlanta investors, and five years later the building underwent further renovations. in recent years it was bought by textile President Mark Kent, who has brought further updates to the building.

An institution of higher learning returned to the building in 2007 with Clemson University's establishment of its Renaissance Center on the sixth floor. This innovation venture establishes a vital presence for Clemson in the thriving downtown Greenville environment. The center is a division of its College of Business and Behavioral Science and it an incubator to inspire and develop entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. (Source: A Guide to Historic Greenville, South Carolina by John M. Nolan (2002), pgs 65-66.)
    — Submitted March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Notable Buildings
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 995 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   7. submitted on September 13, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
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