The Wyche Pavilion, the open-air pavilion on the bank of the Reedy River behind the Peace Center, is just a shell of its former self.
But a plan announced by the Peace Center last week to preserve and repurpose the historic structure that once served as a paint shop and a mayonnaise factory does more than create another music and event venue on the campus.
The project, which could begin this spring if approved by the city’s Design Review Board at its Feb. 7 meeting, will enhance connectivity with Falls Park as well as improve the water quality of the Reedy River that has been one of the keys to the revitalization of Greenville’s downtown and the West End.
“This is good for the Peace Center,” said Peace Center President and CEO Megan Riegel. “It’s good for Greenville.”
The restoration of the former paint shop and mayonnaise factory had been planned as part of the Peace Center’s initial campus development. The building had fallen into disrepair in the 30 years between its abandonment and its purchase by the Peace Center in the late 1980s. However, financial constraints put those plans on hold and the building was reduced in size, gutted and turned into an open-air pavilion that exists today.
“It’s not taking something away,” Riegel said of the proposal. “It’s giving something back.”
Last year, only 36 events were held in the Wyche Pavilion.
“People are in love with the glamour shot Wyche Pavilion, not the one with bird poop and trash, and a cracked cement floor,” Riegel said. “We’re creating something special.”
When the project is finished, The Wyche will be outfitted as a fully functioning performance venue, featuring state of the art sound and lighting equipment. Windows and doors, which will maintain the feel of an open-air pavilion when the weather allows, and heating and air conditioning will allow the facility to function as a year-round event space.
Riegel said there’s no reason why The Wyche can’t host 200 events a year, from weddings, meetings, lectures, and concerts.
“I’m sick of hearing that Greenville is not a music town,” Riegel said.
The Wyche would give the Peace Center an intimate music hall to go with the Peace Concert Hall, which seats more than 2,100; the TD Amphitheatre, which seats 1,450; and the Gunter Theatre, which seats 439. The new Peace Voices Songwriters Series, held in Genevieve’s lounge, is designed to develop an audience for more intimate concert experiences.
“We’ve got programs that operate under the radar. The Peace Center is more than going to the Concert Hall to see ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Miss Saigon,’ or ‘Chicago’ the band,” she said. “We want to have a campus of buildings that are rocking and rolling all the time.”
More than windows
The building itself is the easiest part of the project, said Keith Summerour, principal of Summerour and Associates, the architect on the project.
Fire trucks cannot access the site right now because they can’t currently fit under the Main Street bridge, Summerour said. Sewer, power and water lines will be be relocated so the road can be lowered for a fire lane.
Underground wastewater retention and riparian plantings will benefit downstream users, he said.
“It may look like putting windows in an abandoned building, but it’s way more,” he said.
Riegel said the project will significantly improve the Peace Center’s riverside campus.
A new boardwalk along the Reedy River and deck between the Wyche and TD Stage will allow public access around the building.
The proposed Wyche Pavilion addition would be lime-washed white brick to reflect the look of a previous extention of the Wyche Pavilion and covered with a climbing vine, Summerour said. The vine is a fun reference to when the building and river was hidden by kudzu vines.
“It is merging the building with the landscape. It has yet to be done in Greenville but it’s been done in other places where waterfront restorations have been done,” he said.
Riegel said she does not yet know how much the project will cost, but said there is no plan to conduct a capital campaign.
Construction would be complete by spring 2020.