If you would prefer, a more detailed version of this document is available for download in PDF format. Reidville Town History
The history of our town: (courtesy of the Reidville Historical Society)
Reidville is a small town located in the southwestern Piedmont area of South Carolina and built upon a strong religious and educational foundation. It is a closely-knit community rich is history and tradition.
In 1761, a group of Pennsylvania Irish settlers migrated from Philadelphia to the Tyger River area of South Carolina, followed by another group of Irish settlers arriving in 1767 through the seaport of Charleston. The western edge of Spartanburg District was populated with farms and homesteads by these settlers. Agriculture was the main industry, particularly cotton, peaches, corn, and soy beans. Christian worship was important to these settlers, so they held worship meetings in private homes until 1772, when they were able to erect a brick building known as the Nazareth Presbyterian Church. This is the origin of the town of Reidville.
Reverend Robert Hardin Reid (1821 – 1907), a Presbyterian clergyman and educator, was an 1846 graduate of South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) and studied at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He moved to Spartanburg District in 1853 to become the minister of Nazareth Presbyterian Church, a position he held for forty years until ill health forced Reverend Robert him to retire in 1893.
The Reidville Male Academy was built at one end of Main Street and the Reidville Female Academy was built at the other, with residential lots laid out between the schools on either side of Main Street for two blocks in each direction. The town, named Reidville after Reverend Reid, was established with limits set at a one-mile diameter from the schools. Reidville would become a morally-guided community of neighbors and educators. Dormitories were built adjacent to the academies, and professors at the academies built houses and stores along the main streets. The small town consisted of at one time or another: five grocery stores, a jail, several blacksmiths, a town hall, a post office, a masonic lodge, a pharmacy, a barber shop, a telephone office, and more. Time has taken its toll, but some of the original buildings still remain.
Reidville Female Academy
Reidville Male Academy Classroom
The two schools played a major role in education in upcountry South Carolina from 1858 to 1905. Both the Male and Female Academies remained open during the Civil War, and Reverend Reid persuaded Federal troops not to burn the schools when they camped briefly near Reidville at the end of the war in 1865. In 1871, the Female Academy was elevated to college status and was known as the Reidville Female College. In the upcountry, it was one of the first facilities of higher education for women. In the 1870’s, the academies attracted students from seven states in the southeast. In the late 1800’s, reconstruction and the introduction of the railroad made life difficult for the community. The congregation’s cotton crops were hit hard by the boll weevil, and they were unable to be the sole funding for the schools. In 1905, the congregation of Nazareth Church could no longer support the schools and Reverend Reid closed them as a private operation. Spartanburg District took over their operation and combined them to create a public high school. In 1948, after fire and damage to the original Female High School structure prevented preservation, and the need for larger accommodations facilitated an update to the educational system, the Female High School was destroyed and replaced with Reidville Elementary School. In 1993, the Trustees of the Male School leased the land and building to the Spartanburg District 5 Baseball Association. The Male High School was demolished to make room for more ball fields.
Lets take a tour of our Historic Town:
The history of Reidville can best be shown by a tour through Main Street and its surrounding streets, designated as “Historic.” Main Street strives to maintain the look and feel of what the forefathers envisioned for this community in the 1800's. As you tour the Historic District, consider the compact community as a whole and how the various buildings relate to each other. Begin your tour with a left turn from Reidville Road onto College Street.
The first house on the right on College Street was built in 1857 as the home of Reverend Reid. There is a separate building that served as Reverend Reid’s office. The house was moved from its original building site and restored by its current owner, Reverend Reid’s great- granddaughter and her family.
Reverend Reid House
The fourth house on the left is the William Cuttino Smith House. This home was built in 1880 by Reverend Reid for Reverend William Cuttino Smith, a Presbyterian Minister and a Chaplain in the Confederate Army. His grave may be visited at the Town of Reidville Cemetery. Today, it is a private residence.
Reverend William Cutino Smith House
The second building on the right is the Reidville Female Academy Dormitory, also known as the Teacherage. Built in 1858, it was the dormitory for female students attending the Female Academy. The brick façade still shows the scars of the Charleston earthquake of 1886. In the early 1900’s, it was used as a residence for teachers, and in later years, it became a private residence. Today, the Teacherage is owned by the Reidville Historic Society and houses a dance studio.
Reidville Female Academy Dormitory / Teacherage
The next building on the right is the Reidville Elementary School, built in 1948 and home of the “Reidville Rockets.”
Reidville Elementary School
This was the original site for the Reidville Female Academy before it was destroyed. A marker commemorates the site.
Reidville Public School Marker
Across the street from the Reidville Elementary School is Dr. Frank Leonard’s Store built in 1905. It was a general store, a dry goods store, a drug store, and a post office. Later it became Harrison Brother’s store. Currently, it houses a coffee and sweets shop.
Dr. Frank Leonard's Store
The next building on the right is the Reidville Presbyterian Church, established in 1889. It is a small church with a congregation “thankful for its past and excited about its future.”
Reidville Presbyterian Church
Turning left on Main Street, the first building on the right is the Reidville Academy Faculty House, also known as the Wood House. Built in 1858, the stucco exterior conceals the brickwork beneath. It is a two-story brick Greek Revival raised cottage with late Victorian alterations. This antebellum house was originally built as the residence for the principal of the Male Academy. It has been used as a residence for teachers and as a private residence. In 1997, this building was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. This house is currently owned by the Reidville Historical Society and is home to the Society, a historical museum, and an antiques store.
Reidville Academy Faculty House / Historical Society Home
House. Built in 1860, the house boasts a Charlestonian design,
beautiful balcony, and Greek Revival-style columns. Leonard Wilson
was a teacher at the Academy and a store owner. Today, the house is a private residence
The next building on the right is the Leonard Wilson Store. Built in 1858, it was a general store that also sold dry goods and supplies, as well as being a barber shop. The stucco façade of this building hides the brickwork beneath. Today, the building houses a martial arts studio and a beauty salon.
Leonard Wilson Store
Baseball Association's Dixie Youth Baseball League.
The original Male academy was destroyed and in its place stands the marker of dedication. The original cornerstone from the Male Academy is embedded in the marker.
Male Academy Marker
In 1997, Reidville was re- incorporated by the State of South Carolina as a town. Today the town numbers 601 residents. With the addition of the new Tyger River Park in Reidville, there will be an influx of visitors to the area, which will only enhance the commerce and interest in the tiny village. Main Street may someday be the hub the original settlers imagined it would be.
An interesting fact concerning the part our town played in our history.