THIS PARK ISN'T JUST BEAUTIFUL.
IT'S HISTORICAL.

Historic Timeline

1907

Boston landscape architecture firm Kelsey & Gould publishes a plan for Greenville. The January 1907 report to Municipal League President Thomas Parker acknowledging the work of J.E. Sirrine is titled “Beautifying and Improving Greenville, SC.” In it, Harlan P. Kelsey proposes the idea of a string of parks stretching along the Reedy River, including one in an area of west Greenville referred to as Hudson Athletic Fields. The other two would later become Cleveland Park and Falls Park.

1920

City purchases lots from Edwin Mayberry on Westfield Street for a city incinerator and a women’s prison stockade.

1924

About $15,000 of a $110,000 bond issue approved by voters in June 1924 is set aside to purchase 15 acres of marshy meadowland edging the Reedy River from Edwin Mayberry to create a park for “negro children.”

DEC. 31, 1924

William Choice Cleveland gives the city 110 acres of land for Cleveland Park.

1925

Mayberry Park opens.

1927

The city commits money for an athletic field at Mayberry Park with bleachers and playground equipment. The field is used for football, baseball and fair grounds for the Johnny Jones Circus.

1929

Mayberry Park is used by Sterling High School for football, baseball and track.

JULY 1933

As part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project drains the meadow, deepens the river and puts in tennis courts as well as more play equipment. Using a grant from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and 400 workers under the direction of City Engineer Dan Hulick, the bed of the Reedy River is modified for several miles all the way to Cleveland Park.

In a May 1934 report to City Council on its 15-year park plan, the city Parks & Recreation Department reports that "an athletic field has been constructed in Mayberry Park, a negro park of 15 acres near the old stockade. Certain areas have been drained and rough places graded, tennis courts have been build and playground equipment installed. Rock walls, bridges and seats have been constructed and considerable shrubbery planted, the work valued at about $2,000."

FEBRUARY 1935

A new City Stockade on South Hudson nears completion at a cost of $20,000. There is discussion of moving the city police department to the building when it opens to house black men and black and white women. White men are sent to work on the county chain gang.

1935

Mayberry Park hosts a Field Day program with proceeds benefitting Wilkinson’s orphanage.

SPRING 1936

City Police appropriate 200 feet at the northern end of Mayberry Park for a shooting range. The shooting range is occasionally open to the public for target practice.

JUNE 1936

Mayberry Park hosts Colored Arbor Day involving African-American children planting trees in the park.

DECEMBER 1937

Talk turns to recruiting a minor league baseball franchise to Greenville. And on Dec. 21, 1937, the city identifies the Mayberry Park land as a perfect site for a new ballpark. City leaders assure Joe Cambria of Baltimore that the city has addressed flooding in the area by deepening the river and that it won’t be an issue for his ballpark.

JANUARY 1938

The City appropriates seven acres of Mayberry Park (about half of the 15-acre park) to build a 5,000-seat baseball stadium to be called Meadowbrook Park for the newly organized Greenville Spinners. By summer the City appropriates another 200 feet for additional parking at the ball field. African-Americans are restricted to some seats in the outfield and the Black Spinners team is allowed to play there only when the white team isn’t using the stadium.

JANUARY 1939

Members of the African-American community, including children, appear before City Council to press their case for a new park on the west side of Greenville. Speakers include Elias B. Holloway, Greenville's first black mail carrier, and Henry Percival, head bellman at Hotel Greenville. Percival would later establish the Negro Service League in 1946. Also speaking in favor of the plan for a new park is Mrs. H.J. Haynsworth and Hugh Aiken of the Greenville County Council of Social Agencies, Dr. C.P. Gandy and R.O. Johnson.

Greenville Mayor C. Fred McCullough assures them their petition would be given careful consideration. The plan for the city to spend $33,000 to acquire 27 acres near Perry Avenue already had approval of the Greenville County Council for Community Development and John A. McPherson, chairman of the city Park and Tree Commission.

JUNE 1939

Elias B. Holloway returns to City Council to again plead his case for a new African-American park and presents a petition with 376 names.

JANUARY 1943

What became of the plan for a new African-American park is unclear, but in January 1943 Mountain View Homes opened on the land near Perry Avenue intended for the park. The low-income housing, funded in part by $450,000 in federal money, is home to clerical workers from the airbase that would later become Donaldson Center.

APRIL 13, 1945

An estimated 15,000 gather alongside the Southern Railroad tracks as the train transporting the body of President Franklin D. Roosevelt stops briefly in Greenville on its way from Georgia to Washington, DC.

FEBRUARY 1946

Debate over construction of housing in Mayberry Park for returning war veterans begins with the city's approval of the site on February 8. But controversy quickly ensues over the suitability of the land near the river for veteran housing.

A letter to the editor published in The Greenville News describing the proposed area notes that "rats in this vicinity they abide there galore and some of them there use to be large as well-fed squirrels."

"Just in front of the ballpark and at the entrance to the 'Lovely Mayberry Development' stands the Greenville Stockade. Also found at the entrance is one of Greenville's oldest junk yards. Last and one of the most pleasant natural features of the place we find dear old Reedy River flowing gently by. This is good for a pleasant aroma any warm night in the spring or summer."

Within days the site is unapproved and City Council drops the idea on February 15.

JANUARY 1953

City Council approves closing Mayberry Street among other city streets on certain days so that children can roller skate.

1953

The City builds two tennis courts on the long-unused police firing range in Mayberry Park, as well as a recreation center.

DECEMBER 1964

The Greenville News reports on plans for construction of a Downtown Loop expressway. A subsequent article in 1967 describes the highway as linking I-385 with I-185 by sweeping through the west side of Greenville.

1967

Mayberry Park hosts a Christmas party for children ages 7-13

AUGUST 1971

City Council discusses the loss of Meadowbrook Park due to construction of the Downtown Loop expressway, and the potential loss of the Mayberry Recreation Center.

FEBRUARY 14, 1972

An early morning fire destroys Meadowbrook Park, threatening the 1972 baseball season. The cause of the fire is deemed suspicious due to the time of day. Nonetheless, the City comes up with funding to restore electricity to the park for the 1972 season. With folding chairs in the stands and chicken wire strung between utility poles to form a backstop, the last season of baseball is played at Meadowbrook Park.

MAY 1972

The City approves the state Highway Department's plans to build a causeway through Meadowbrook Park to route the Downtown Loop expressway. This option means the department needs only 1.75 acres rather than the original 3.8 acres necessary if the road had been built on the ground. Nonetheless, City Manager John Dullea pronounces Meadowbrook Park “destroyed.”

APRIL 1974

The idea of a Downtown Loop expressway is eventually dropped, but not before the City turns over 62 houses, one-third of them dilapidated, for condemnation and clearing right of way.

1977

By 1977 the park consists of the “poorly maintained” recreation center now housing the office of the Opportunity Industrial Center, five swings and a three-person merry-go-round. “A large park where we could provide a lot of different recreation would be a great asset to this area,” the Rev. C.S. Sanders, acting chairman of the Black Clergy of District 2 Fellowship, told The Greenville News.

2002

In 2002, Clemson University’s Center for Community Growth and Change
publishes the Reedy River Master Plan Project under the joint sponsorship of the City and County of Greenville. The project emphasizes public input and participation to develop a master plan that would serve as a framework for development within a 16-mile stretch of the Reedy River, spanning from the river’s headwaters in Travelers Rest to Lake Conestee. The plan, which envisions the Swamp Rabbit Trail, includes designs for public parks, a farmer's market, public transportation, mixed income housing and a visitor center in the area around Mayberry Park.

2004

Upon completion of Falls Park, the City turns its attention to the "next big project." Tom Keith, designer of Falls Park, begins sketching concepts for a new city park on the banks of the Reedy. The project represents the City's first significant downtown development on the opposite side of Academy Street.

Keith introduces the concept of a tower inside the park to lend a vertical element that could serve as the "Liberty Bridge" landmark of the park.

2010

In the fall of 2010, the City is awarded $1.8 million in grant funding to
support a three-year planning effort titled Connections for Sustainability: Linking Greenville’s Neighborhoods to Jobs and Open Space. The City in partnership with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation aims to establish connections between affordable housing, transportation options, economic development opportunities, and open space.

As part of the initial phase of the project, three major studies are completed: A city-wide housing strategy; a feasibility analysis of a bus rapid transit system and transit-oriented economic development; and a plan for a potential city park on the west side of the City.

October 2013

In October 2013, the city publishes the Greenville Park Master Plan. "The Master Plan for a potential, large urban park is an important tipping point for a community. Greenville has seen the effects of this before – most recently with Falls Park and the tremendous impact it has had on the West End and Downtown. Getting it right, in the eyes of the community and its leadership is crucial," the report notes.

The design team and the City of Greenville conduct a week-long design charrette from Feb. 21 - Feb. 28. The charrette begins on Thursday night with a kick-off meeting attended by more than 50 people. On Saturday, Feb. 23, a public workshop is conducted in which residents list possible land uses and programmatic considerations for the park site. During this meeting, the public also helps craft a Goal Statement for the project and teams of citizens develop design concepts that are then presented back the whole group.

During the charrette, the team hosted visitors, including citizens and several classes of second- and third-grade students from A.J. Whittenberg Elementary and St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School. The students wrote on note cards the one element they really wanted to see in the park and illustrated their various park ideas on long sheets of drawing paper.

Feb. 19, 2014

Greenville publishes the Greenville West Side Comprehensive Plan, the next phase in the Connections for Sustainability project. This comprehensive plan unifies components of previous studies and provides policy, development and infrastructure recommendations for the West Side based on a robust public engagement process.

The West Side is described as bounded by Pete Hollis Boulevard to the north, Pendleton Street to the south, the Greenville city limits to the west, and the West End and Central Business District to the east. The West Side study area includes three defined city neighborhoods: Southernside, West Greenville and the West End. This area also encompasses portions of Greenville’s historic textile industrial area, including parts of the old mill villages of Brandon and Woodside mills.

The plan recommends design elements for a potential 22.5-acre city park along the Reedy River that would substantially expand the existing Mayberry Park in the West Side.