Who will save the Beattie House? Proposals due Friday

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Who will be the latest savior of the historic Beattie House, the third oldest home in Greenville? The answer may be found among the sealed bids received by a Friday deadline for the antebellum home built by Greenville businessman Fountain Fox Beattie in 1834, which most recently served as the home of the Greenville Women’s Club.

When the Greenville Women’s Club disbanded in 2014, the property reverted to the City of Greenville. A deal with Black Knight International, the umbrella corporation for golf legend Gary Player’s business ventures, to buy the property and convert the house into an office fell through when CEO and Player’s son, Marc Player, announced in June the company would no longer move its corporate headquarters to Greenville.

The city listed the 2.43-acre site with Colliers International. Sealed bids are due Friday. The Greenville Local Development Corporation, a nonprofit group that works as an arm of the city on economic development projects, will meet on Thursday, Dec. 8 to hear a Beattie House presentation. The GLDC board is scheduled to go into executive session at that meeting to discuss an economic development project.

Fountain Fox Beattie was 27 years old when he moved to Greenville from Virginia. He bought three acres on what now is East North Street and built a home for his wife, Emily Edgeworth Hamlin. By the time the Civil War hit, Beattie, who was a partner in a general store, listed his real estate worth $39,000 and his personal fortune at $90,000, according to Greenville historian Judy Bainbridge. He also owned 53 slaves. Beattie’s son, Hamlin, was his partner. During Reconstruction, Hamlin was one of three financially solvent Greenvillians, according to Bainbridge.

The Beattie House, which has a two-storied central portion and one-story flanking wings on either side, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. It has been saved twice before.

Plans to extend Church Street from “the super highway” Wade Hampton Boulevard to Mills Avenue came about during World War II. When word of the house’s demolition surfaced in 1946, members of women’s organizations persuaded the city to buy the house for $92,500 and lease it to them for a $1 per year to serve as a meeting place. The Women’s Club leased the house and its locally famous gardens (Fountain Fox Beattie’s daughter-in-law Mrs. John E. Beattie had the first greenhouse in Greenville where she grew pink dogwoods) for 66 years.

This week, Council gave initial approval to rezoning the property. Zoning for part of the property would change from RM-2, single- and multifamily residential, to OD, office and institutional. The rest of the property would be zoned R-6, single family residential. The zoning change would allow single-family residential to be built on the Bennett Street side, Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle said. That would provide a buffer for the Bennett Street neighborhood.

The new zoning would allow the house to be used for a bed and breakfast with onsite owner, office, boutique hotel,  private residence or restaurants. Boutique hotels and restaurants require special exceptions.

According to the Colliers listing, purchase of the property would close on March 30.

Photo: Bill Fitzpatrick

 

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