The Old Stage Road ran from Laurens to Greenville, and where it crossed an old Cherokee trail that came to be known as the Georgia Road, a village grew up. In the 1830s an enterprising farmer from the Laurens District, Peter Simpson, set up a blacksmith shop there, and so the name Simpsonville arose. When the post office came a few years later, it was called Plain, but "Simpsonville" eventually won out as the name of the place. The 1880s brought a high school and several cotton gins to serve the nearby farmers. Soon after incorporation in 1901, the town persuaded entrepreneurs to build the Simpsonville Cotton Mill, which remained the largest employer for decades. What spurred Simpsonville's present growth was the arrival of the major water main and the widening of Highway 276 in the 1950s.
Simpsonville's population growth has been remarkable. It was South Carolina's fastest growing city from 1990 to 1992, and the fastest growing city under 25,000 in the nation in 1994. Much of this expansion is as a bedroom community for the metropolitan area, but Simpsonville also has its own major industries. It draws crowds from far and wide for Freedom Weekend Aloft at New Heritage Park, but there is still a downtown area with the old train station and the clock tower.
The Simpsonville branch of the Greenville County Library opened in 1926. Its beginning was quite humble, merely one shelf of books located in the furniture store at 104 South Main Street. The library truck came around every few weeks to provide a new selection of books. In 1940 the library moved into a building built by the WPA, which it shared with community groups who held meetings there. In 1968 the library was expanded to occupy the whole building, giving it 1800 sq. ft. of space. In the 1990s the need for a larger library roused the community to action. A former mayor and his wife donated land near downtown Simpsonville, and fundraising took such interesting forms as a Christmas tour of historic Simpsonville homes. The new building, known as the Hendricks Branch, opened on April 6, 1997.
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