Spartanburg County Public Libraries’ Construction Updates

Thank you for visiting our construction updates page. With the construction project at the Inman Library completed and construction at the Headquarters Library soon underway we wanted to have a page that you could visit for updates as we proceed with our upcoming construction projects. Please check back often for updates and email with any questions.

Spartanburg County Council and the Libraries’ Board of Trustees are committed to providing a first-class infrastructure to meet the informational, educational, and entertainment needs of Spartanburg County. Further, it is their commitment to utilize Spartanburg’s tax revenue wisely and strategically.

In 2000, County Council authorized $9 million in construction bonds to build the Chesnee, Cowpens, Cyrill-Westside, Landrum, and Woodruff Libraries. The last payment on this debt was paid in January 2020.

Instead of requesting additional taxes to address library infrastructure the Board of Trustees requested the debt issued in 2000 be reissued after the final payment was made. This strategy would not increase taxes and would provide the necessary capital to improve library services.

The Libraries’ Board of Trustees identified the Inman Library and improvements to the Headquarters Library as two essential priorities.

The Inman Library reopened in December 2022.

Inman Library - the new Inman Library
The new Inman Library opened in December 2022.

Downtown Spartanburg has evolved over time. From a hub of commerce to more of a pedestrian walkable retail district in the 1970s, this district competed with the rise of the shopping mall and adjacent shopping districts that took place at that same time. As shopping malls were built and area shopping districts grew, businesses moved away from downtown.

Spartanburg struggled to retain businesses. In 1974, East Main Street was closed from Converse to Church Streets. These three city blocks became Spartanburg’s “outdoor mall.” This concept struggled to grow in popularity with the advent of Westgate Mall, Hillcrest Shopping Mall, Poppy Square, Pinewood and Cedar Springs Shopping Centers and JM Fields and Sky City strategically located on Reidville Road and I-26.

Downtown Spartanburg’s “outdoor mall” in 1974
Downtown Spartanburg’s “outdoor mall” in 1974.

Spartanburg leadership continued to attempt to develop a more active central retail district in downtown. The next step was to develop “Spartan Square” fronting Morgan Square at Dunbar, North Church, and Magnolia Streets. A key component to this development was the implosion of the Andrews (Chapman) Building. A demolition crew from Oklahoma had prepared the steel beams for implosion. This was accomplished by sawing all but a few beams, and once explosives were discharged, the building would collapse in place. On Saturday, October 8, 1977, a handful of men including crew and reporters were inspecting the building. Suddenly the building collapsed. Five men were killed. A small memorial plaque is located to the right of the door facing Morgan Square at One Morgan Square. The new development would have included two large office buildings, a convention center and a proposed ice-skating rink.

A less than popular outdoor shopping mall, the collapse of the Andrews Building and the complexities of an unprecedented rate of inflation from 1977 to 1980 destroyed Spartanburg’s attempt to reinvigorate downtown.

The Andrews Building after implosion in 1977
The Andrews Building after implosion in 1977.

The Pine Street Library was built in 1961. In 1997, the library relocated from Pine Street to downtown Spartanburg. Construction of a new library was a private/public partnership demonstrating a core belief in Spartanburg’s downtown. The new library was a significant anchor to revitalizing downtown Spartanburg. Twenty-five years later our downtown area is home to a new court complex, a planned city/county municipal building, commercial investment, and residential development. According to OneSpartanburg, nearly 200,000 pedestrians are walking along Main Street every month. Most likely, our downtown pedestrians are unaware of Spartanburg’s past challenges.

Headquarters Library Announces Plans to Add Planetarium Learning Center

On April 27, 2022, the Headquarters Library celebrated the 25th anniversary at its current location on South Church Street in downtown Spartanburg. Since 1885, when the Spartanburg County Public Libraries were first founded, there have been several locations around Spartanburg that have housed collections and offered library services to the public.

Thanks to a gift from Mrs. Helen Fayssoux Kennedy of the lot where her husband’s office once stood, Spartanburg’s first “public” library opened on October 17, 1885, on the top floor of a two-story building facing Kennedy Place in the central business district. Her gift honored her husband, Dr. Lionel Chalmers Kennedy, a well-known and respected physician who had died five years earlier. Among the library’s first holdings was Dr. Kennedy’s 600-volume medical library and some 300 other books collected by the citizens of Spartanburg.

It was unheard of in those days to collect taxes to support libraries, so the Kennedy Library kept its doors open by charging annual and monthly membership fees. The facility soon was adopted by the Ladies Auxiliary Association, which kept it stocked with books and furniture. By 1899, the ladies realized that Spartanburg was on the verge of outgrowing the little library. They took it upon themselves to write a letter to the famed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, asking for a contribution to help build a new library. After four years of correspondence, the Kennedy Library Board was notified in June 1903 that Carnegie would donate $15,000 if the city would purchase the land and contribute $1,500 annually in support of the library.

Assured that Spartanburg could afford a new library, the building committee chose a site on Magnolia Street, right on the trolley line, and construction began on the Kennedy Free Library. When it opened on January 15, 1905, it was called “one of the best and most modern libraries in South Carolina.” Despite its fame, the new library struggled financially. Librarian Mary Baughman often worked without salary, and evening hours were discontinued in 1908. By 1934, the situation was so dire that no new books were bought at all.

On the initiative of the Spartanburg County Foundation, a group of citizens began a campaign to make the library a tax-supported institution. In 1947, the Spartanburg County Legislative Delegation approved the creation of a true “public” library, and a one-mill tax was levied on all property in the county in support of the facility. Hours were extended, and the library reached out into the Black community for the first time, opening branches in the South Liberty Recreation Center in 1947 and in the Bethlehem Center in 1950. As a demonstration project by the Junior League of Spartanburg, a bookmobile went on the road in 1947 and became a permanent service in 1948. The library’s first Children’s Room also opened in 1948. In the mid-fifties, Spartanburg began outgrowing its library again, and the local Jaycees began a concentrated drive to convince residents to support construction of a larger, more modern building. Their successful effort won them a National Jaycees Award. Bonds were sold, and construction began on South Pine Street in 1960. When the building opened on May 15, 1961, Spartanburg again had one of the best and most modern libraries in the South.

Pine Street Library location prior to moving to downtown Spartanburg
Pine Street Library location prior to moving to downtown Spartanburg.

After realizing the county was once again outgrowing its main library, citizens, community leaders and the Library Board began laying the groundwork for the new headquarters. In 1992, an $11 million bond referendum was approved by voters, setting the stage for construction of the South Church Street Headquarters. On April 27, 1997, the new Headquarters opened to the public. The larger building also made possible the Kennedy Room of Local History and the Cleveland Genealogical Collection.

Headquarters Library located on South Church Street in downtown Spartanburg
Headquarters Library located on South Church Street in downtown Spartanburg.

Since 1997, the Spartanburg County Public Libraries have continued to grow to include a staff of approximately 200 delivering the best service possible to the citizens of Spartanburg County. Today the libraries offer 10 full-service local libraries, a Bookmobile, Homebound delivery, Outreach Services, and a freestanding used bookstore, Pages on Pine.

Our branch library locations offer a variety of programming for children, teens and adults and is equipped with meeting room facilities, free internet access, and shelves full of books, magazines, movies, music and more. For those who are not able to come into a library, Homebound Services delivers books to shut-ins almost every day. Additionally, many downloadable books and resources are available on our website The Spark Space at the Headquarters Library provides many makerspace opportunities and the Kennedy Room of Local History, also at the Headquarters Library, has ample resources for genealogy and local history research. Visit the Libraries on our social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Planetarium Learning Center

In 2022, after celebrating 25 years in its current location, the Spartanburg County Public Libraries announced that the Headquarters Library will be home to a new planetarium learning center. The planetarium learning center, located at the corner of Broad and Church Street, will house a 50-foot domed planetarium theatre with approximately 135 seats and additional spaces for the SparkSpace makerspace and other learning activities and programs. Dedicated to lifelong learning, the planetarium learning center will offer educational experiences to children, teens, and adults.

The planetarium learning center will bring pedestrian traffic to the city’s historic downtown and build countywide partnerships with schools, universities, and businesses. We will also connect with national partners including NASA and the National Science Foundation. This is a donor supported project with funding from both private and public funds. More information will be forthcoming so continue to visit our website for updates.

Concept drawing of Planetarium Learning Center for planning purposes
Concept drawing of Planetarium Learning Center for planning purposes.

Spartanburg County Public Libraries Hires Director of Planetarium

Andy Flynt was hired as the Director of the Planetarium.

Andy was born and raised in North Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in English/Media from High Point University and his Master of Library and Information Services degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After working five years for a government relations firm, he transitioned to working in libraries. For over twenty-five years he has worked for five different library systems in North and South Carolina - the last twelve years at Spartanburg County Public Libraries as Director of Information Services. He takes pride in the programs he provided the public and the partnerships he built with local communities. Andy looks forward to bringing his previous experience in building programs and creating partnerships to open our new planetarium.

Andy resides in Inman with his wife, two boys in college, and two adorable dogs.

Andy Flynt is named Director of the Planetarium at the Headquarters Library
Andy Flynt is named Director of the Planetarium at the Headquarters Library.

Our next planned capital project includes the Headquarters Library in downtown Spartanburg which was built in 1997 and designed by McMillan Smith Architects (now McMillan Pazdan Smith). As the Inman Library construction concluded, we worked to identify available funding to improve the Headquarters Library. Priority areas will address patron access to library materials, improve meeting spaces, patron services, and space to preserve and present Spartanburg County’s historical documents as well as the addition of the Planetarium Learning Center.

The scope of the Headquarters project is evolving, and more information will be made available as plans develop over the next several months.

Winter 2020 – Two Part Construction Project Commences at Inman Library

Winter 2021 – Planning for Second Phase of Construction at Headquarters Library

Winter 2022 – Grand Opening of Inman Library

Spring 2022 – Planetarium Learning Center Announced

Spring 2023 - Design Development for Planetarium Learning Center

Fall 2023 – Anticipated Groundbreaking for Planetarium Learning Center

Fall 2023 – Scope for Remainder of Headquarters Library Project Defined

December 19, 2023 - Groundbreaking for Planetarium and Spark Space

Spring 2025 - Anticipated Completion of the Planetarium and Maker Lab

The Spartanburg County Public Libraries has a large infrastructure. Maintaining existing locations is important to the overall health of our system. The Board of Trustees of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries appreciates you and your patronage as well as the trust that County Council places in both them and Library staff.

Please continue to check back for more updates as plans develop and we look forward to seeing you at the libraries.