Acclaimed for its outstanding acoustics, Twichell Auditorium at Converse College has hosted such famed artists as Tony Bennett, Chet Atkins, Duke Ellington, Burl Ives, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, and Marilyn Horne. Twichell is named as an historic John Philip Sousa site to commemorate the many performances given by Sousa and his band in the early twentieth century. Greeting visitors in front of the auditorium is the graceful 8-foot bronze sculpture of legendary contralto singer and civil rights pioneer Marian Anderson, created by artist Meredith Bergmann. Built in 1899 and renovated in 1989, Twichell has 1,500 seats and a 57-rank Casavant Freres organ with 2,600+ pipes.
The legendary Hooley's nightclub was located in the basement of the Franklin Hotel, which stood on East Main Street before being demolished to make way for the Denny's/BB&T high-rise. In the mid-1970s Hooley's (later known as Hooley's Underground) hosted such artists as Steve Earle and Townes Van Zant and was the home club of Spartanburg performers who went on to fame elsewhere: Uncle Walt's Band, Marshall Chapman, Garfeel Ruff and The Contenders. Hooley's was owned for a time by country artist David Ball and by Bobby Cudd, who left Spartanburg for Nashville and became an agent for numerous major musical acts. .
Carlos Moseley Building
One of the three buildings at the Chapman Cultural Center is named for Carlos Dupre Moseley, a native Spartan who served for thirty years as managing director and chairman of the board of the New York Philharmonic (1955-85). Moseley originated the idea of free concerts in New York's Central Park, and the Carlos Moseley Music Pavilion there was named in his honor. Moseley, a 10th generation South Carolinian, is ninety-six years old and lives in Spartanburg. The building that is named for him houses the Spartanburg Art Museum, the Regional History Museum, and the offices of the Arts Partnership.
Where Marshall Tucker Band began
North Spring Street was Spartanburg's headquarters for rock and roll music in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The basement of the Gladstone Hotel (now demolished and replaced by the Social Security office) was the birthplace of the Marshall Tucker Band. This cramped space held regular practice sessions of the predecessor band The Toy Factory, which featured Toy and Tommy Caldwell, Paul Riddle and George McCorkle. Among the other musicians who sat in on those early sessions were Franklin Wilkie, Ross Hannah, Carol Cox, Jerry Eubanks, Doug Gray, Joe McConnell and David Ezell. The practice space was located a half a block behind The Sitar nightclub, and there was regular late night flow between the two. The band members rented the space from Gerald Smith, who owned a nearby local music store called Smith Music House. Previously the space had been rented by a blind piano tuner named Marshall Tucker. The key that they used to open the door to their practice space was on a chain with the piano tuner's name on it, and the band members decided it made a good name.
Alexander Music House
For roughly 100 years, Alexander Music House provided musical instruments, sheet music, recital space, and music lessons on Main Street in Spartanburg. Noted Jazz Age drummer Johnny Blowers worked there as a teenager (when it was located at 167 West Main). It was also here that the Grand Ole Opry's Paul Howard first heard Hank Garland picking guitar and launched Garland's Nashville career. Alexander Music House was organized in 1897 by A.M. Alexander and in its early days served the Piedmont of North and South Carolina, sending horse-drawn wagons out into the countryside to sell pianos. Salesmen did not come back till all the pianos were sold. The first radios and televisions in Spartanburg were sold there. In the early 1940s, Alexander Music House renovated a building at 200 East Main in the Art Deco style (pictured) and relocated its operations there, where it stayed until September 1969 when it moved into a house at 319 East Main Street (now home of the Inn on Main) that A. M. Alexander had built for his family about 1905.
Site of WSPA Radio and TV
WSPA Radio went on the air as the first radio station in South Carolina in 1930, often playing live music with its far reaching signal, helping launch many country music careers, including Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks, Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, and Hank Garland. Arthur Smith played "Guitar Boogie" for the first time on WSPAWSPA's TV station went live in 1956, continuing to provide time to "hillbilly musicians" like Don Reno, who for a short-time had his own show there. The Blue Ridge Quartet taped its nationally syndicated music show there in the 1960s.
Short Wofford Street
Pink Anderson, Blind Simmie Dooley and other Piedmont bluesmen regularly performed in the 1920s and '30s on the sidewalks of a street known as Short Wofford, which ran between Church and Magnolia streets, approximately where the Palmetto Bank now stands. In the 1940s a long list of major black entertainers visited clubs in the area when they came to town to perform for the African-American soldiers stationed at Camp Croft. This street was lined with African-American businesses, including Little Newt & Vi's, where such performers as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Buddy Johnson once dined. Businesses here were demolished during Urban Renewal in the 1960s.
Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium
As the Carolinas' largest theater, Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium has showcased dozens of top musical performers, including Taylor Swift, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Journey, Ray Charles, Hall and Oates, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Alison Krauss, Harry Connick Jr., Dave Matthews, Kenny Chesney, B.B. King, and Phish. Built in 1951, it has a capacity of 3250.
Grave of Singin’ Billy Walker
Singin' Billy Walker, father of shape-note music, is buried in the historic Magnolia Cemetery near the Magnolia Street Train Depot. The marker reads: In Memory of Wm. Walker, A.S.H. Died September 24th 1875, in the 64th year of his age. He was a devoted Husband & kind Father, a consistent Baptist 47 years. Taught music 45 yrs. The author of 4 Books of sacred music. He rests from his labors. He died in the triumphs of faith. Sing praises unto the Lord.
Carolina Theatre, Where Elvis Played
A 21-year-old Elvis Presley performed in the Montgomery Building's Carolina Theatre on February 9, 1956. Though the show sold out, many in the audience were there to see the Louvin Brothers and the Carter Sisters. The theatre has not been in operation since the mid-1970s.
The brick tower at the lower end of Morgan Square contains the clock that once adorned the Spartanburg Opera House, which stood near this site from 1881 to 1907. The Opera House, lit by gaslights in its early days, hosted touring musical reviews, minstrel shows, comedies and plays. The Victorian-style structure housed the city's post office on the ground floor and a 700-seat theatre on the second floor. The Masonic Temple and Hub City Books now stand on the site of the Opera House.