Greenville was one of the six villages to develop in a ring around the township of Charlotte, North Carolina in the 1890s (the others were Biddleville, Blandville, Seversville, and Irwinville). Except for Seversville, which had developed surrounding a white-owned country store, each of the villages was populated by Black residents by the time they were included in the city directory. Thomas Hanchett notes that, except for the Biddleville & Cherry neighborhoods in Charlotte, it is difficult to visualize these villages as they were because of urban renewal efforts in the 1960s.
Greenville and Irwinville were demolished as part of the Greenville Urban Renewal project. In a 1993 oral history interview with Atkins Library, Thereasea Delerine Elder, then chairman of the Greenville Historical Society, spoke about growing up in the community & efforts of residents to stay in the area after demolition. She lived on Hamilton Street, opposite the Southern Asbestos Company Mills. The mill created much waste, and Elder remembered cleaning their screens & doors twice a day during summer and playing in a mill waste dump as a child. She believed the mill affected the town’s residents, especially those working there, as she had family members who died from lung cancer and remembered the mill workers as “very small” and coughing a lot while they also smoked. Elder stated that the Greenville community was intentionally demolished to separate the community. But Greenville’s residents came together to push the city to contract with the community to rebuild some homes after the demolition.
In 1966 the Urban Renewal Committee issued its plan for First Ward, Greenville, Dilworth, and other downtown projects. The report designated fifty-eight of the area’s 272 acres, 214 of which were located in Greenville, to build an expressway. Citing Greenville as one of the “more extensively blighted areas of the community,” with almost seventy percent of the structures blighted, the plan also recognized the massive amount of homes that would be destroyed. Because of this, the proposed project sought to reserve eighty-eight acres of land for residential development, an estimated 1,760 dwellings. The image below depicts the large amount of land needed for the expressway. A1 Bed Bug Exterminator Charlotte
In April of 1972, Greenville resident Margaret Green Harris sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to challenge the displacement of people in urban renewal neighborhoods who were not offered alternative housing somewhere Charlotte, NC. The suit cited that 631 of the once-existing 763 housing units in the neighborhood had been destroyed by urban planning.3 The case Margaret Green Harris v. HUD “resulted in a resolution that displaced people must be offered alternative housing.” The suit was negotiated to a settlement in 1972, but it left little assurance that all displaced citizens would be offered affordable housing. Starting a career with the Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County in 1973, Ted Fillette began offering legal assistance to people displaced by urban renewal. The Legal Aid Society would continue to monitor city efforts to create affordable housing & Fillette would go on to aid the Cherry neighborhood in its fight for public housing.
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