Greenville officials coveted federal courthouse in 1930s

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On Sept. 27, 1937, Postmaster General James Farley dedicated Greenville’s $525,000 post office on East Washington Street. Federal buildings were sought after plums in the midst of the Great Depression, and local officials had been angling for Greenville’s for more than six years.

In 1932, about $300,000 had been allocated for a building, which included a federal courtroom, but had omitted site costs. And the site was a problem: four alternatives, including expanding the current post office at the corner of Broad and Main Streets, were being considered. In 1934, after some old-fashioned bartering, City Council traded the site of their current city hall on West McBee and Laurens Street for the East Washington site for the post office, and the government traded the old post office to the city.

The building’s cornerstone was laid in November 1936. Farley credited former Greenville Representative J.J. McSwain for securing the funds. The post office served as both the central post office and the county’s federal courthouse until 1962, when the new main post office was built on West Washington Street.

In May 1983, it was named in honor of federal judge Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., and a year later had a million dollar renovation.

Ask LaFleur: Where is the new federal courthouse we’ve heard about?

Editor’s note: For more than 140 years, The Greenville News has told the story of our community and the people who live here. Each day this year we are publishing a brief piece of our history – Greenville’s story.

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