| Originally constructed
in 1908, this long-standing Greenville landmark has undergone nearly a century
of change. Change in structure,
tenants, use, even in address.
The original company it was designed for never even inhabited it, but a colorful mix of other businesses have…some of which began here and went on to thrive internationally. Though the building has not moved, the city’s roads have, leaving it a brick island washed by streets on all sides.
At the turn of the last century this area to the south of Hammond Street overlooking the Reedy River was residential. A narrow band of commercial development edged along River Street, where the railroad cut through the immerging city. The road layout was different then as well. The only means across the Reedy River was a footbridge. It was to this neighborhood that a commercial building came to be at the newly mapped 238 River Street. Below is a time-line of its occupants and uses before engineers and ad guys and the rest of us came along.
1880’s River Street was on the Greenville City maps since before the 1880s. Hammond Street was constructed in mid-1890 and was shown for the first time in the 1898 Sanborn map. This was the location of a lumberyard and woodworking shop from the 1880’s until 1908.
1907 The first listed address for the Innovate lot was 238 River Street, residence of Mr. Wilson Kerr.
1908 First commercial interest, Walker & Walker Coal Company shares Mr. Kerr’s address. The building that was constructed, is the area currently occupied by Brains on Fire. It was only 35 feet wide, 200 feet long and ended at an angle close to the current Hammond Street entrance. Made of brick, with a fire sprinkler system throughout, it was to be used by Gilreath Manufacturing Company. Lockwood, Green & Company, Engineers of Boston and Greenville (J.E. Sirrine associates) designed the plans with office space downstairs and manufacturing space upstairs where large windows maximized the light. To the south of Mr. Kerr’s house was the home of Mr. C.A. Carpenter, now part of Camperdown Way and the adjacent parking lot.
1913 Greenville Bonded Warehouse expanded its operation from the north side of Hammond at 276 River St. to 238 River St. The main office remained across the street at 275 River St.
1915 The street number was changed from 238 to 250 River St. Cash Feed Company shared space with Greenville Bonded Warehouse.
1917 The address changed again to 240 River St. with four companies on-site. Ashworth Brothers; Greenville Loom Reed and Harness Company; Greenville Cotton Mills; and National Garment Mill, owned by W.P. Woodside.
1921 Only Ashworth Brothers remained when Edisto Mills became a tenant in the building. Huntington & Guerry Electrical Engineers and Contractors began on the other side of Hammond Street (now 260 River St.) and remained there until 1949.
1923 McKeithan’s Dry Cleaning Company joined Ashworth Brothers Company in the building.
1926 The address changed again to 154 River Street.
1928 Mr. C. A. Turner started the River Street Service Station at 148 A River Street.
1930 The Carolina Company, a manufacturer of underwear, moved in at 154 River St.
1935 After a two-year vacancy, Mr. Eugene E. Stone II moved Stone Manufacturing Company to the building, its home until 1942.
1941 White Way Service Station replaced River St. Service Station at 148 A River St.
1942 Stone Manufacturing left 154 River St. when Mr. Roy C. McCall purchased the building for his hospital supply company, Convenience Incorporated. The building Mr. McCall immediately built at 148 River Street is the part of the building that synTerra now occupies (the front half). That original construction stopped at the fifth window. Convenience Inc. later added to the back of its 154 River Street building, and that space is now synTerra’s Pod area and reception. There would be a middle addition as well, from the fifth window to the fire doors. That addition starts at synTerra’s Conference Room and extends through half the design area. This large expansion and consolidation was necessary because of the demand for bandages during World War II. By 1944 Convenience even had an office across the street at 141 River Street. The war’s end brought a decline to Convenience’s business, however.
1947 Piedmont Engineering Services, (Piedmont Engineers) was among new tenants at 141 River Street when Convenience no longer needed the space.
1948 148 River St. (across Hammond Street) housed: Universal Fabrics Inc. a textile conversion company, Starcross, Inc. another venture owned by Mr. Roy C. McCall, Belrug Mills Inc. rug manufacturers.
1949 141 Rivers Piedmont Printmakers moved in with Piedmont Engineering Services.
1950 Belrug Mills Inc. expanded to occupy both 148 and 154 River Streets. However, part of 148 was occupied by a company called Carolina Blouse Company.
1953 Across the street at 201, Leroy Cannon opened a used car lot. This was replaced a year later by Paul Longs Used Motors and later by a used car lot operated by DB Carter at the same location.
1956 Carolina Blouse took over both buildings and stayed there until 1960 when it moved to Laurens Road. Its facility is still visible today. Style Crafters (manufacturer of life preservers) moved into 202 River Street.
1961 Camperdown Way was constructed, taking part of Hammond Street. The Camperdown Bridge over the Reedy River (now demolished) and the road to the south of the buildings were constructed to connect Church Street to Academy. As a result of this construction the back corner of the building was torn off to make room for the road. The angle that was made is clearly visible today and the alteration left the facility surrounded by roads.
1967 Eving Cotton Company, a cotton broker, moved into the then vacant 148 building.
1968 Starcross, Inc. returned under the ownership of the original owner’s son, Mr. Roy C. McCall, Jr.
1970 Heritage Industries, Inc. took ownership of the building and manufactured knit goods for two years. After several years of vacancy, the building was sold to Huskey Construction Company.
1996 Huskey sold the building to a SC Limited Partnership, Riverplace.
2000 The building was purchased by Mountain City Land and Improvement Company, developers of the facility you see today.
The Innovate Building enters its second century with an address of 148 River Street. Today’s tenants include the environmental engineers of synTerra, the Identity Superheroes of Brains On Fire, and the inspired journalists of The Greenville Journal.
The building was originally constructed in an era when people both worked and lived in this part of town. Planned development promises a resurgence of residential growth along this stretch of the river. So it seems the future holds revitalization that’s really a return to roots. With the demolition of the Camperdown Bridge, we’ll see the return of a footbridge over the Reedy River.
As Greenville grows, we’re returning home in a sense. Back to the river. Back to the west-end. Back to where The Innovate Building has been all along.