What started as a Cherokee Indian trail and trading path, situated just above the Reedy River, would eventually become one of the most desirable areas in Greenville.
On December 8, 1853 the community gathered to welcome the first train into the Augusta Street Depot and hence the Augusta Road area was born. Named Augusta Road in the 1830s when it became the main route between Greenville and Augusta, GA it would become one of the most important areas in Greenville’s growth.
The 1850s saw big changes in the area, the addition of the train depot, the opening of the campus of Furman University and Greenville’s only physician set up shop. The changes and amenities attracted some of Greenville’s most well-to-do citizens and stately mansions began to be built throughout the community.
The Civil War brought more passengers, cargo and news to the Augusta Road Depot, according to the Augusta Road Business Association (ARBA). During the Civil War names of the deceased and wounded were called aloud throughout the day.
The only military action Greenville saw during the Civil War occurred on Augusta Road in 1865, a calvary group, searching for Jefferson Davis, descended on the area and confiscated weapons.
After the Civil War the area’s popularity began to grow as businesses and industry moved into the region. Camperdown Mill and Mills Mill were built and by the late 1800s the first businesses appeared on Augusta Road.
forty feet wide…
By 1913 Augusta Road was paved all the way to Grove Road and was known locally as “a mighty highway, forty feet wide.” The paving of Augusta Road was all it took for the area to really flourish into one of the most desirable Greenville locations. Paving the road brought lots of development including suburbs, churches and schools. The Greenville Country Club construction was announced and Augusta Road was designated as U.S. Highway 25.
According to ARBA, throughout the 1920s business in the area grew rapidly with Claussen’s Bakery, the Baskerteria No. 2. now known as The Marquette, Campbell’s Pharmacy and Dixie Home Store. The 1930s brought about Lucky Strike Cafe and Bowling Alley, billiard parlors, the Dixie Grill, the Clean Cleaners and Greenville’s Baseball Park.
Between the construction of Greenville High School in 1938 and The Greenville Army Air Base right off Augusta Road, (now known as Donaldson Center) Airmen came looking for housing and a thriving community for their families.
In 1947 the area was annexed into Greenville city limits and in 1948 South Carolina’s first “mall”, Lewis Plaza, was built right on Augusta Road. During that time you could find anything you needed, from a new car to groceries and find it all while the smell of freshly baked bread floated through the air from Claussen’s Bakery.
Today Augusta Road is considered a premier location in Greenville, with its close location to downtown Greenville, ease of access to Interstate 85, distinguished schools and tons of amenities – the residents of the area can enjoy unique neighborhoods steeped in rich history, thriving businesses, multiple churches and historical as well as new residences all along shady, tree-lined streets.
What’s in a Name?
All of this name confusion surrounding one of the most prosperous areas of Greenville stems from what locals call the area versus what the area’s official name is. Several different websites list the reasoning behind the name Street versus Road as just a preference used by the local population. Greenville city’s definition is Augusta Street, the proper road name, while locals refer to the area as Augusta Road.
The Augusta Road Business Association’s website states: “Welcome to Augusta Road, or is it Augusta Street? If you have visited the road or call it your home, you’ll know the answer. With its unique charm and history, it continues to be one of Greenville’s most popular attractions. Here, it’s about the people, the places, the stories and the friendships, that all take place on what we will forever call Augusta Road.”
Google Maps names the area as Augusta Street with the addresses for the businesses along the route being listed officially as Augusta Street.
No matter what you call the area, Augusta Street or Augusta Road, it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Greenville and offers residents a sense of community as well as established city charm with its historical homes, quaint shops and tree lined streets.
According to the Greenville County Historical Society, the Greenville location of Claussen’s Bakery was the fourth location overall – with the original in Charleston, one in Augusta and another in Columbia. The two story brick bakery situated on Greenville’s Augusta Street was equipped with enough employees and machines to bake enough bread in 1 hour to feed 5,000 people for one meal – averaging out to 45,000 loaves of bread a day.
From the Greenville Journal Archives:
Greenville historian Judy Bainbridge said the city has done “reasonably well” when it comes to preserving historic buildings. But while the city has played a role in the preservation of some of Greenville’s oldest buildings and residences, much of the credit should be given to Greenville’s citizens and companies that have pushed for their reuse.
The most recent example is the Wilkins House, a stately home on Augusta Street that was slated for the wrecking ball before the Greenville community raised $300,000 to help Neil Wilson, owner of RealtyLink who bought the Wilkins House with the goal to preserve and restore it, move it two blocks to Mills Avenue. A two-and-a-half-year restoration was completed and the property now has a preservation easement preventing it from being moved or torn down.
The Wilkins House was originally built in 1878 for William T. Wilkins, a Spartanburg native who opened hardware stores in Union and Greenville that helped the region’s booming textile industries. The house was saved from demolition in 2013 and moved to Mills Avenue in 2014 after the Greenville community raised $300,000. A two-and-a-half-year restoration was completed and now the house has a preservation easement preventing the house from being moved or torn down.
The Wyche House at 2900 Augusta St. was built in 1931 as a country estate for Greenville attorney C. Granville Wyche. It was one of the most expensive and elaborate residences built in Greenville in the 1930s. The property, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is now The Chandler School.