How Spruill Avenue got its name

The Noisette Master Plan set forth a vision to preserve and honor the unique character of the community.  One of the most important parts to come out of the Noisette Master Planning process was the idea of creating a socially durable community.  From the Noisette Master Plan:

Socially Durable Communities:

We recognize that socially durable communities have two core elements that are essential to their long-term social and fiscal health:
* Each member of the community understands the UNIQUE HISTORY and HERITAGE of their social community and physical place.
* Each member of the community holds in common a vision for the future to which they help contribute.

Knowing and understanding the history of our community strengthens our understanding of socially durable communities.  Our street names tell many stories from our past.  The following is taken from a letter written to the Post and Courier by Charles Mitchum some years ago regarding Spruill Avenue…

“A recent letter to the editor stated that there are many roads and bridges in the area named for men and women who over the years have faded from memory.  This letter provides the background of one of those roads.

Spruill Avenue was named for my uncle, Wilbur L. Spruill.  He was the son of Vera and Edward Spruill and one of eight siblings.  His father, Edward died when Wilbur was 10.   He was then raised by his mother with a lot of help from my mother, Lurlene, his oldest sister.  Vera ran a boarding house near the Tuxbury Lumber Co., located on Shipyard Creek, had its own employee commissary, the Tuxbury Mercantile Co.

Wilbur started working there as a clerk while still in high school, was promoted to manager and after the lumber company burned down, was give the opportunity to buy it.  With no money down and a low interest rate, he jumped at the chance.  the business, located on the right side of Meeting Street at the beginning of what is now Spruill Avenue, prospered and he was soon able to marry the love of his life, Dorothy Smith.  They lived in an apartment above the store until, shortly before his death, he was able to buy a beautiful home on Rhett Avenue, just off Park Circle.

Wilbur was an entrepreneur, before the expression became popular.  In addition to his store, he had real estate, rental apartments and had plans for opening a drive-in theater in the North Area.  He had a wonderful outgoing personality and was an active member of many organizations.  He was president of the South Carolina Junior Chamber of commerce and the Suburban Junior Chamber of Commerce, of which he was one of the organizers.  He was the first president of the North Charleston Businessmen’s Association.  He was a past master of Hammerton Masonic Lodge of North Charleston.  He was a Shriner, an Elk and a Lion.  He was well known throughout the county and state and had announced plans to run for the state House of Representatives.

He died in a horrible car and train collision when he was only 31.  It is still difficult to believe all he accomplished in those 31 short years.

On July 11, 1947, he was going from the King Street Extension to Meeting Street at the Rosemont Crossing.  Witnesses reported that he had stopped, looked both ways and safely crossed the two Southern Railroad tracks.  He then stalled his brand new Ford Coupe on the Coastline tracks.  He wasted too much time trying to start his car before attempting to exit.

The area was stunned, and his funeral procession filled the entire route from J. Henry Stuhrs’ downtown chapel to Bethany cemetary.

The naming of Spruill Avenue shortly after his death memorialized him.  Its location is particularly appropriate, as it runs from his store at Tuxbury Crossing to East Montague Avenue, near his home on Rhett Avenue.”

Charles Mitchum
1004 Seacrest Lane
Folly Beach

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Filed under Buzz Words, Community Members, Community Stories, History

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