Thursday I was in the town of Pendleton. Saturday, I cruised around the Pendleton Street area on the Westside of Greenville.
Laura has long complained about how confusing Greenville’s streets can be. Having grown up in the west where streets run east/west and north/south, she claims that they must have paved the cow paths in this area. I try to explain that the streets make perfect sense – Laurens Road goes to Laurens, Augusta Road goes to Augusta, Buncombe Road goes to Buncombe County in North Carolina, and Anderson Road goes to Anderson. Pendleton Street is no different. It was once the route to the town of Pendleton.
I started the morning with a trip out to the Saturday Farmers Market, which is now held on Main Street. I ran into a few people I knew, shot some pictures, and walked on up Main Street to gawk at the empty stores. After all of the revitalization efforts Greenville has made, it’s depressing to see retail leaving. Soon, it will once again be only banks, restaurants, and law firms downtown.
Since I had visited one open air market, I also wanted to visit a new open air arts market that was somewhere on Pendleton Street. Turns out that it’s in a part of Greenville that has long intrigued me. ‘Way out on Pendleton Street one comes upon a little center of commerce that is almost a town unto itself. Sandwiched between various mill villages, it grew up to support those areas, but has long since been in decline. A few businesses have held on, but for the most part the buildings have been empty.
Atlanta has its Little Five Points, Philadelphia has its South Street, Tucson has its Fourth Avenue area, and other cities have their areas that support quirky businesses and hip happenings. To me, this area of Pendleton Street has always seemed ripe for development as an arts area. That seems to be happening now. First, there was Art Bomb, which moved into an old warehouse. Recently, several other studios have moved into the area. Couple this with the attraction of this area as home of Shoeless Joe Jackson, and things seem to be looking up. It still has a long way to go, but there is potential.
The open air art market seemed to host those that didn’t have their own studio. There were only a few booths set up, but I’m sure things will pick up as it catches on. After all, this was only the second Saturday it had been in business.
After leaving the market, I decided to explore the areas surrounding the Pendleton Street area. For the most part, this is very low-income housing. Unlike some areas of Greenville, these mill villages seem much more integrated. There are also attempts to improve the housing in the villages, with new construction going in.
I took a quick trip to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park, which turned out to be a small baseball field (surprise). The house where Jackson lived has been moved next door to the new baseball stadium downtown, but the Judson Mill area is much the same as when he lived there.
I hope the area continues to see progress. Artists are attracted to these areas because large spaces are available for less money than downtown real estate. The draw of the studios brings in restaurants and business. However, there is a fine line between progress and gentrification that excludes the original inhabitants. Often times with revitalization, long-term residents get priced out of the market. It’s still early, and we will have to see what happens.