Glymph Memorial Garden honors Gaffney Black Business District

We’re following up on a memorial garden set to honor pillars in Gaffney’s Black history.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:12 PM EST
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GAFFNEY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - We’re following up on a memorial garden set to honor pillars in Gaffney’s Black history.

Back in January, $350,000 was allocated from COVID-19 relief funds to create Glymph Memorial Garden.

After input from the public, back in March, the garden is almost done.

The memorial is placed near what used to be Gaffney’s Black Business District until a fire swept through it. Groups behind it say it’s set to be a place to reflect on the Black pioneers who helped make Gaffney what it is today.

Dr. Kim Smith is a donor whose family and church have a brick at the garden.

“This is where the Black economy was located. And it needs recognition,” Smith said.

What was once dirt, now has a fully-constructed memorial complete with a brick pathway and seating.

Councilwoman Millicent Norris put a lot of work into making this happen.

“The bricks represent companies that were in this area—the Black Business District. And we also have family bricks,” said Norris.

The intersection of N. Petty Street and E. L. M. Rosemond Lane was a thriving district filled with Black entrepreneurs decades ago, such as Foster’s Funeral Home, Dr. Norris’ Office, and Clarence Glymph’s Market—to whom the project was named.

Jamil Dyair Steele is the artist behind the mural.

“In the 1940s, that was a tall order, given that we didn’t have much in the African American community. So, I want to tell that story,” Steele said.

All that’s left is to put the finishing touches on the mural. It’s a job Steele doesn’t take lightly—commuting from Charlotte while being a teacher.

“You’re actually going to see roots that go into the ground,” said Steele, “And underneath the ground, they’re going to flow throughout the whole mural. And on each root will be the family names.”

And it will stretch from the painting of Gaffney peach trees.

Some call the Black business district “Spade Town,” but Smith sees more than that.

“It’s beautiful,” said Smith, “It’s just something that this area needed. I call it the Black Wall Street. It’s not Spade Town.”

Now, there is light to untold history—memorializing people who might have been forgotten to the generations to come.

“It’s very significant to me because my uncle, Tom Greene, was one of the first, Black city council people that was sworn in,” Norris said, “So, for me, it’s kind of like Glymph’s dream was to be on city council. And we’re honoring the people who actually made that dream come true.”

Steele says the art should be complete by early 2023. There will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, in March. That’s one year since the idea’s open house.