To promote, present and preserve the history of Upcountry South Carolina through education, research and service.
Upcountry South Carolina is bordered on the north by North Carolina, including the Piedmont section of the Appalachian Mountain chain; on the west by Georgia, and it extends to the central plains of South Carolina. Its fifteen counties include: Oconee, Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee, York, Anderson, Laurens, Union, Chester, Abbeville, McCormick, Greenwood, Edgefield and Newberry. The rich heritage and culture of the “Upcountry” identity distinguish the region from South Carolina’s “Low Country.” This distinction began when the region was an Indian frontier and continues today as this political and economic hub is now identified as the “Upstate.”
In 1983 a group of civic leaders, many of whom were involved with the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission, formed a new organization known as the Historic Greenville Foundation. This group was committed to preserving Greenville’s rich history. Over time, the Foundation’s vision grew to encompass the creation of a regional history museum, and as a result, the Upcountry History Museum was born. With a generous donation of land provided by Phil Hughes (Hughes Investments) and monetary donations from Alester Furman, Mary Sterling, Tom Hartness and others, the Foundation began an arduous journey towards what would become the Upcountry History Museum (UHM).
The museum’s structure was completed in 2002 and five years later, UHM opened to the public. UHM now sits proudly on Heritage Green and promotes the history of the Upcountry’s 15 counties. The exterior of the building itself incorporates various architectural features representative of Upcountry history. The distinguishing feature of the building is the prominent clock tower that is reminiscent of Greenville’s Old City Hall, and at the foot of the tower sit original cobblestones preserved from downtown Greenville. Known as the “textile center of the South,” the Upcountry’s textile history is represented by the brick façade of the building and the barrel-vaulted roof which resembles Textile Hall.
Inside the Museum, interactive exhibits showcase the diverse history of the Upcountry. Designed by the award-winning Chadbourne & Associates of Boston, these exhibits include touch screen displays, oral histories, multimedia presentations and replicated buildings. Cast figures of prominent Greenvillians such as Richard Pearis and Vardry McBee provide interesting stories, available at the press of a button, and the various temporary exhibits offer something new for frequent visitors.
Since the Museum’s opening, numerous cultural events and student programs encourage community involvement. The success of these programs and the various events hosted at the museum provide learning opportunities for all ages. Weaving together the threads of the past, the Upcountry History Museum is poised to preserve and promote the region’s history for years to come.