A modest granite monument is the only visual reminder of Sycamore Hill Baptist Church and ‘Downtown’ community once located at Town Common. Although there are a limited number of physical elements to remember ‘Downtown’, residents can still recall the spirit and vitality
of this lost community. During the development of the 2016 Town Common Master Plan Update, former ‘Downtown’ residents recalled their memories of the predominately African American neighborhood which was eradicated as a result of the City’s Urban Renewal project in the 1960’s.
The development of a commemorative tower, plaza, and gardens at Town Common will serve as a place for healing and celebratory remembrance, to reflect on the past while creating an acclaimed regional and national attraction at Town Common. This project serves as an opportunity to celebrate Town Common, Greenville’s “Central Park,” by creating special places and activities that will attract and retain residents and visitors while creating a prominent western gateway into the park. Improvements to Town Common will serve as a foundation upon which to continue the City’s growth and make it a more exciting place to live, work, and play.
As a result of a five-month design process, the design team worked with community residents and stakeholders to define a vision for the Sycamore Hill Gateway.
Sycamore Hill was designed to honor the vibrant African-American community by highlighting the rich values that once uplifted and unified it. The design showcases three thematic concepts: History, Spirituality, and Community.
The church, its founders, and its role in the community will be highlighted within the “footprint” of the walled church space. Sycamore Hill’s history will be concentrated on the southwest corner of the site. The interpretive program also makes connections to the larger regional and national stories of African-American communities in urban areas, but most of the narratives will emphasize the community that once lived at Town Common. Interpretation will be conveyed through a combination of images, quotes, and short narratives, and will be distributed throughout the site.