(Greenville). Greenville and Spartanburg were still vying for dominance of South Carolina’s textile industry when local representatives of northern textile machine manufacturers began planning a Greenville trade show in December 1914. A committee including Greenville natives Joseph E. Sirrine and James F. Richardson worked feverishly for ten months, and on November 2, 1915, they welcomed the first of forty thousand visitors to the first Southern Textile Exposition, held in a railroad warehouse.
The show was so successful that immediately after it closed, a new committee began planning for a permanent hall. Bennette Geer chaired the fundraising committee; J. E. Sirrine designed and supervised construction of the $130,000 state-of-the-art exhibition space. When the second exposition opened on December 10, 1917, its construction was, according to the editor of Cotton Magazine, “a fitting monument” to the committee’s work, “mute evidence of what the proper cooperative spirit can accomplish when suitably inspired.” Located on West Washington Street, the massive red brick building immediately became the center of Greenville life. Armistice Day celebrations, the Southern Piedmont Textile Basketball Tournament, automobile shows, concerts, lectures by dignitaries such as William Jennings Bryan, Chamber of Commerce dinners, and movies were scheduled for its flexible space. Textile Hall expanded three times, nearly doubling its original space. The Southern Textile Exposition proclaimed Greenville the center of the southern textile industry; by the 1960s it was the world center. But the aging building was inadequate, and Textile Hall Corporation decided to replace it. In 1962 Old Textile Hall hosted its last trade show, and in 1964 the Piedmont Exposition Center opened. In 1992 the building, a victim of neglect, was condemned and demolished.
Gilkerson, Yancy S. “Textile Hall’s First Sixty Years.” Proceedings and Papers of the Greenville County Historical Society 5 (1971–1975): 79–83.
Huff, Archie Vernon, Jr. Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.