Poinsett's Spring

On a warm Sunday, I ventured into busy downtown Greenville, SC to visit Poinsett's Spring basin.

This stone basin, like Poinsett Bridge, is named for Joel R. Poinsett. John R. Poinsett had a stone basin made and placed beside the State Road in northern Greenville County for the benefit of thirsty travelers. This basin was supplied with water from a spring a few hundred yards away from the road.

The basin would remain in place until 1956 when the heirs of C. C. Hindman, the property owners at the time, donated the basin to the Poinsett Hotel before being forced to sell the land to the city of Greenville for the North Saluda Reservoir.

The basin, after a recent small change of location, now sites beside Main Street between McBee Ave. and Court Street very near the Westin Poinsett Hotel.

View Poinsett's Spring in a larger map

A nice benefit of the new location is the basin works once again. Bravo!
Still (mostly) visible are the initials J,R,P for John Roberts Poinsett and 1820 for when the basin was made.
On the back are the old roadside and the newer commerative markers.
I also took a photo of the nearby Poinsett marker since it was so close.
For a few weeks now, off and on, I've been attempting to find out more precisely where beside the State Road the basin stood besides "near the North Carolina border". The 1825 map of Greenville District by Robert Mills provided me with the general location, as did certain archived property records mentioning the spring. I even found a plat of the area. But it was a book digitized by Google that led me to one answer.

A Google search found a book, South Carolina: a Guide to the Palmetto State, with the relevant part being:
US 25 cross the NORTH CAROLINA LINE, 0m, 11 miles south of Hendersonville, North Carolina.
The rock walls of POINSETT'S SPRING (R), 1.3m, 200 yards from the highway, were constructed by Poinsett about 1821.
The book is copyrighted 1941. Since then, US 25 was rerouted west and this road is now known as Old US 25. The road alignment has stayed the same in this section since that time, however, making it possible to trace the route and make an educated guess on the spring's location.

After starting up Google Earth, and using its ruler tool to trace 1.3 miles down Old US 25 from the NC border, I had my guess:
I examined a 1946 Zirconia USGS map, and the 1.3 mile mark on my tracing matches up well with the circled black square on the USGS map:
Black squares on USGS maps represent structures. A basin would be too small to appear on a map like this, but a house wouldn't. Mann Batson's book, The State Road: Poinsett Bridges and Culverts, on page 74 describes the location of the basin as a short distance north the Poinsett's second summer home, making the square a possible location of the second summer home and also the spring.

The 1959 Zirconia USGS map shows no structure where the circled black square was, or any other structures in the area either. When the city of Greenville bought the properties, all buildings must have been removed. It looks like the Elks Club Camp simply relocated to the other side of the border.
Ordinarily, I'd park off the side of the road where I believe the basin was and attempt to locate the spring. But since that's not permissible on Reservoir land my educated guesses will just have to remain educated guesses.

I made a map showing where I think the basin was located and other features that are either gone or off-limits because of the reservoir.

View Poinsett's Spring in a larger map

My photo album of the visit is on Google Photos.

Update 2015-12-03: Historian Mann Batson is featured in a YouTube video where he shows the chimney ruins at the original location of Poinsett's Spring basin.

Deeds and Plats

During my research, I found some deeds related to the spring. Some of them are below:

  • 1844: Book U, page 391, continued on page 392. Department of Public Works to Wilson Barton. "that said Superintendent reserved to himself, his successors in office, the Spring in said Turnpike known as the Poinsett Spring and a strip of land on both sides of said Turnpike"
  • 1857: Book Y, page 307, continued on page 308. Master of Equity (from the estate of John Hodges) to John Davis. "in consideration of eight hundred seventy five dollars ... sell and release ... unto the said John Davis ... all that tract or parcel ... known as the "Basin" or the Poinsett Spring tract containing one thousand,  one hundred and fifty seven acres ... the same being a part of a tract granted to Wilson Barton"
  • 1858: Book Y, page 309. John Davis to B. F. Posey.
  • 1880: Book KK, page 593. B. F. Posey would sell off parts of the tract. A. J. Ward is sold the Poinsett Spring tract.
  • 1919: Book 54, page 189. A. J. Ward's heirs sell to C. C. Hindman. Plat Book E, page 165 is referenced.
  • 1926: Book 109, page 156. Lucy and C. C. Hindman to Sidney Watts. Property and consent to use spring.
  • 1951: Book 433, page 367. Lucy Hindman to C.C. Hindman heirs. 172 acres of mountain farm among other properties.
  • June 29, 1956: Book 558, page 543, continued on page 544 and page 545. C. C. Hindman heirs to City of Greenville for reservoir.

Further reading:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wow! I didn't know anything about this spring or the bridge in Cleveland Park! Like many, I had seen the stone basin but largely ignored it. Thanks for ferreting out this information!

    Sometime you'll have to head down to Stateburg to the Church of the Holy Cross and visit the grave site of Joel Roberts Poinsett.

    1. that and another trip to Cleveland Park!


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