Serving Upstate South Carolina for more than a century
The Center has a unique history that spans more than a century in Greenville, South Carolina. Many residents and community leaders have been a part of our story over the years.
Through the dedication and efforts of all those involved with the Center, the alumni have gone on to lead fulfilling and successful lives.
The Phillis Wheatley Association is born
Shortly after founding the association, Duckett bought a small house for the association on East McBee Avenue, where she gathered girls for Bible classes and play groups. She later expanded programs to include boys.
The Phillis Wheatley Association becomes The Phillis Wheatley Center
1930 – 1960
Serving the Community in New Ways
During the South’s segregated past, the Center was an important fixture in the Black community. During the 1930s, the Center was known as the Black YWCA, evolving into a meeting place for Black leaders. Music and dance lessons were provided, and families could access day care and recreational activities through the center and a residential camp founded in 1938.
During World War II it became a meeting place and recreation center for Black GIs stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base. Later, the Center served as a major influence in smoothing the transition to racial integration in Greenville County.
By the 1960s, the Center had evolved into a neighborhood hub for local residents with popular sports and arts programs for youth. The Center also housed the first library in Greenville for African Americans.
The Center Moves to Greenacre Road
Dwight Woods Repertory Theatre
In the mid-eighties, Dwight Woods founded the Phillis Wheatley Repertory Theatre, becoming a theatrical program that gave children with otherwise limited opportunities the inspiration to develop their talents, stay in school, and strive for more. Among those who found their way in the theatre was Phillip Boykin, who went on to operatic and Broadway stardom and was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 among many accolades.
Upper Campus Building Added for Partners and Services
The Center’s Upper Campus at 40 John McCarroll Way was dedicated in 1999. It is located just across the road from the original facility on Greenacre Road. The building originally served as a library, meeting space and administrative offices. It is now home to our on-campus partners who are key to delivering the comprehensive services we offer to the community.
New Leadership and New Name
By 2014, the Lower Campus on Greenacre Road began to fall into disrepair and the Center fell onto hard times. After a short period of dormancy, the organization re-opened as the Phillis Wheatley Community Center, a new name that reflects the organization’s proud past and its commitment to serve the rapidly-growing Greenville community.
Under the leadership of PWCC alumni Randy Jackson and Ray Lattimore, the Lower Campus has been transformed into an inviting location for the county’s recreational, after-school, and summer programs and for Phillis Wheatley’s Repertory Theatre, still the crown jewel of the organization’s offerings, along with other programs for everyone in the community from youth to seniors.
The most recent additions to the facilities are a commercial kitchen and senior fitness park scheduled to open to the public soon.
Mission, Vision and Values
To make self-sufficiency a reality for all residents of Greenville County and Upstate South Carolina.
The Phillis Wheatley Community Center will collaborate with community partners to provide the tools and resources to empower all individuals, with a special focus on those from under-served communities, to achieve upward mobility and self-sufficiency.
Pillars of Our Mission
We assist each child and the community at large in moving beyond current limits to an environment free of barriers and full of opportunities for growth.
We hold ourselves to the highest standards, take ownership of our work, and promptly correct mistakes to the greatest extent possible.
Greenville County Parks and Recreation
SHARE / Head Start
A school readiness program that provides comprehensive child development services to eligible families.
Greenville Technical College – Returning Citizens Program
Greenville Technical College – Quick Jobs
The Quick Jobs program offers training and certifications that are skills specific and job preparatory with most courses lasting three months or less.