Today Greenvillians are familiar with the Simpsonville area called Five Forks, where Batesville, Scuffletown, South Bennettsville and Five Forks roads all intersect near each other. The name Five Points will be much less familiar to locals, but it was once a primary downtown destination.
In J. Watson’s 1844 map of Greenville, the merging of Buncombe, Laurens and Coffee streets was formally only four corners with the narrow “Buncombe Road” only dotted in over the platted streets. Forty years later, maps show all three streets as equally wide and forming the only intersection in the city with five roads spoking off.
Over time, locals referred to the corner as Five Points, but nothing formally designated the name in city records. Postal confusion arose when businesses advertised their location at Five Points, as relayed in a March 1927 Greenville News article describing a delivery made to Fowler’s Drug Store. The supplier addressed a package to “Five Points, S.C.,” thinking Fowler’s was in this fictitious place. The shipment nonetheless made it to the correct destination. Soon, O.K. Jones and E. A. Brown opened the Five Points Drug Store as the first business to adopt the name.
At the end of 1927, a group of business owners from that area submitted a petition to City Council, saying, “To the honorable mayor and City Council of Greenville: We, the undersigned property owners and occupants of the street space formed by the junction and intersection of Buncombe, Laurens, and Coffee streets, respectfully petition your honorable body to designate the property in question as ‘The Five Points of Greenville.’”
For the next 47 years, the Five Points name became more integrated, as businesses like the Five Points Service Station took over the Laurens Street corner, and people commonly used the phrase as a reference to that part of the city.
The end of this once-familiar place came after Max Heller became mayor, and his efforts to transform a dying downtown involved creating attractive public plazas like the European cities he knew growing up in Austria. It was decided that the entire length of West Coffee Street, stretching from Main to Laurens, would be transformed to a pedestrian plaza with a large modern commercial development to anchor the new space along the blocks where Laurens and Buncombe previously stood. The “Coffee Street Mall,” as it was called, was formally dedicated in April 1975, and soon the name Five Points faded into history.