- Mon-Thu • 10a-8p
- Fri-Sat • 10a-5p
- Sun • Closed
Greenville, SC 29601
The South Carolina Room in the Hughes Main Library is staffed by experienced genealogists and has an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, microform, periodicals, databases, photographs, maps, and newspapers all searchable in our online catalog.
Due to occupancy limits, please schedule your visit ahead of time.
Parking is available on the upper level of the Heritage Green parking lot.
Parking is free on weekends and after 5p on weekdays. Parking is also free for vehicles with handicapped tags.
Contact Lanier Parking Solutions at 864-240-8146.
The area that became Greenville County was a wilderness in colonial times, the haunt of bison and elk and a hunting ground for the Cherokee. In the 1770s Richard Pearis, a trader from Virginia, laid claim to twelve square miles near the falls of Reedy River once belonging to the Cherokee people in a deal that was rumored to have been ill-gotten. His plantation and much other land came into the hands of Lemuel Alston in the 1790s, who laid out the "Village of Pleasantburg" and on whose land the courthouse for the Greenville District was built. Further development came under the leadership of Vardry McBee in the 1800s, who promoted the building of railroads and mills. Agriculture remained a major element of the local economy, but by the end of the 1800s Greenville was becoming a textile center.
As Greenville entered the 20th century, it was still a small town with not quite 12,000 residents, yet its citizens saw the need for a library. The proper backing for a public institution coalesced in 1921 under the leadership of Thomas F. Parker. The Library opened on May 20, 1921 with 500 volumes in a vacant storage room on East Coffee Street and soon expanded into the store next door. The Library was so well received that the city voted it tax support in 1923, and the following year it moved to larger quarters in the Jervey Jordan building, which had entrances on both Main and Brown streets.
The Depression years were dark times for the Library as with the rest of the nation. Precious little was added to the collection, and often the staff were not paid, yet its activities were many and varied. In 1937 the end of the Library's lease meant a move to temporary quarters in a garage building. Two years later the Library purchased the old Park School building, a fine brick structure on North Main Street. It was renovated and opened in 1940.
By the 1960s it became clear that new times required changes. The City and County Services were combined, the tax millage was raised to provide adequate support, and funds were solicited to build a new Library. The new building, located on the site of the Women's College, opened on May 25, 1970. The city's first specially built library facility and so freshly modern compared to the old building, it sported the recently donated Arthur McGill Globe to great advantage. For the next three decades this main library served as a hub for the Library system's aggressive modernization with many new programs, the expansion of branch libraries, and the computer automation of the collection.
As Greenville County stood at the gates of the new millennium, it needed a new main Library building not only to provide a larger space but a space adapted to the technology and culture of the Digital Age. The result was the Hughes Main Library, which opened October 7, 2002. In addition to its beautiful architecture and spacious areas bright with natural light, it is fully wired for digital technology, gives access to dozens of public computers, and includes a café and gift shop. It complements the revitalized downtown area both as a tool for education and entertainment and a place for the community to gather.