"Shoeless Joe Jackson House"
As lifelong Boston Red Sox baseball fans, Helen and I were excited to go to Greenville, South Carolina, to attend a baseball game at Fluor Field, "Little Fenway Park of the South." When Greenville became the new home of Red Sox Class 'A' affiliate, the "Greenville Drive," they rebuilt their baseball park to resemble Boston's Fenway Park.
We went there in 2006 and I wrote about our visit in my earlier post.
I went back to Greenville in 2011 and visited the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum which sits across the street from Fluor Field and shot this photo. The building, which is now the museum, was Joe and Katie’s final home. When they lived there, it was located at 119 E. Wilburn Avenue in Greenville and was later moved to the location across from the ballpark.
A couple of days ago, I was surprised to receive the email below from the museum. Apparently, I had included my email address in the visitor log while I was there about nine years ago. Interestingly, they have moved the house again, (but this time only about 100 yards) and are expanding the building to make more room for its contents. The letter mentioned
"The street address became 356 Field Street, which was chosen as a way to honor Joe’s .356 career batting average, the third- highest in baseball history."
Here is the complete letter they sent me:
Subject: Shoeless Notes - Issue 001
From: Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum - To: firstname.lastname@example.org - Cc: - Date: August 14, 2020 at 02:49
Shoeless Notes - Issue 001
August 14, 2020
Dan Wallach Aug 14
Hello and welcome to Issue 001 of Shoeless Notes, the email newsletter for the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library in Greenville, South Carolina.
If you’re receiving this email, you fall into one of the following categories:
1. Someone who has ever visited our museum and left your email address in our visitor log (seriously, this could have been any time in the past 12 years, because we had never gone through that binder until this year)
2. Someone who has bought something from our online gift shop
3. Someone who has shown explicit interest in the past about receiving updates regarding the museum
4. Someone who has actively given us your email address recently after seeing a social media post or responding to a personal message promoting this newsletter
If you don’t fall into one of those categories, you either have a friend, family member, or colleague who entered your email address into our submission form because they thought you’d enjoy receiving these updates, or you have an enemy who happens to know your email address by heart and is playing a really strange practical joke on you by signing you up for the most random newsletters they can think of.
No matter how you got here, we’re happy to have you, and we think you’re going to enjoy the content we plan on providing. We promise we won’t send out more than two of these emails each month. So you don’t have to worry about being inundated with a bunch of repetitive, meaningless information day after day, or week after week. That’s not what we’re trying to do, I promise. We’ll only do it every two weeks!
However, if you ever decide you would like to stop receiving these newsletters (even if that time is right now), you can scroll to the bottom of any email and click the “unsubscribe” link. If you change your mind later on, you can also re-subscribe at any time, but we promise to never add you back to this list without your consent.
Okay, now that THAT’S all out of the way, we have so much to share with you!
Two weeks ago, on Friday, July 31, our museum was moved. Like, the whole building. As you may or may not know, the building that has been our museum since we opened was the actual house Joe and Katie Jackson lived in for over a decade. In 1941, they bought the brick home at 119 E. Wilburn Avenue in Greenville, South Carolina. They lived out the rest of their days in that home, with Joe passing away in 1951, and Katie in 1959.
In 2005, Richard Davis (who is the President of Charleston, South Carolina real estate company Trademark Properties) went to a White Sox game with his son, Lyles.
Soon after, they were driving down a stretch of highway near Greenville which was named after Joe Jackson, and Lyles started asking questions, as 8-year-olds are wont to do. Richard went on the internet to learn more for himself, and found that the former home of the Jacksons was still standing. Davis had the idea to buy the house and make it a museum, so in 2006, that’s exactly what he did.
However, the middle of a neighborhood is hardly an ideal spot for a museum, so Davis had another idea: move the museum to the West End of Greenville, right across the street from the newly-constructed Fluor Field. The Greenville Drive, who are an afﬁliate of the Boston Red Sox, call Fluor Field home.
Originally, the team was slated to be called The Joes, but Major League Baseball wasn’t too keen on that. MLB suggested that if the team wanted to maintain its afﬁliation, they had to remove any mention of Joe in their stadium, and certainly on their uniforms. They did, and the Greenville Drive were born.
Greenville was a growing city, but at that time, its growth and expansion hadn’t quite reached the West End where the stadium was. The land right across the street from the stadium wasn’t super valuable, so, thanks to a handshake deal from C. Dan Joyner, Realtors, the museum was allowed to be placed right in the center of the property, directly across from Fluor Field.
Richard Davis and his wife, Ginger, who was acting as Project Manager, coordinated the move of the home in 2006. The house was lifted off its foundation on Wilburn Avenue, cut in half, and driven 2.1 miles down the road to its new location. It was pieced together, underwent more than a year of substantial renovations - most of which were contributed by local companies – and opened as The Shoeless Joe
Jackson Museum and Baseball Library on June 21, 2008. The street address became 356 Field Street, which was chosen as a way to honor Joe’s .356 career batting average, the third highest in baseball history.
Cut to a decade later, and now the City of Greenville had expanded out that far to the West End. The land upon which the museum sat was substantially more valuable than when the building was placed there in 2006. So in late 2018/early 2019, the museum was approached by Woodﬁeld Development, a company based out of Charlotte, asking us if we would be willing to move our building again to accommodate their desire to build a luxury apartment complex on the property. Since our building was directly in the center of the property, the only way their plans would work would be if they moved us to the corner of South Markley and Field streets, a distance of about 100 yards.
We agreed to the proposal, which included Woodﬁeld paying for a new roof for the museum, a new HVAC system, and building us an 837 square foot addition, essentially doubling our size. As a 501(c)3 nonproﬁt organization, there was no way we would have been able to pay for those things on our own, and as the building continued to age, those expenses were surely around the corner. So this move truly was mutually beneﬁcial, and will allow the museum to grow and prosper for years into the future.
There are photo galleries of the 2006 move, the museum’s Grand Opening in 2008, and the most recent move, which took place a couple weeks ago, on our updated website. Although we have been closed during coronavirus and for construction, we’ve still been really busy. Like, really busy. We’ve used this down time to completely rebuild our aforementioned website, we launched the My Baseball History podcast, and we’ve announced our ﬁrst ever Museum Membership program, allowing fans across the country and across the globe to support our mission.
If you would like to become a member of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library, we would be thrilled to have your support. There are multiple tiers at which you can join, so pick out whichever one currently ﬁts your budget. The rewards increase with each new level, ranging from an exclusive enamel pin only available to members, all the way up to a personally guided driving tour around Greenville which will take you to all of the signiﬁcant locations related to Joe’s life and career. There are lots of other levels in between, so take a minute to check them out and decide which one works best for you:
BECOME A MEMBER
In addition to all of those changes, we’ve really beefed up our social media presence. In fact, today marks our one-year anniversary of posting from the @shoelessmuseum twitter account. For those of you among the 2,279 people already following us there, thank you so much. If you’re not on twitter, or not following us on that platform yet, I encourage you to give it a try.
I was never a big twitter person, either, but it has grown to become my favorite social media platform, and it’s the one we use most often. The people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, the relationships I’ve developed, all of the amazing photos I’ve seen, and the things I’ve learned because of twitter have brought me so much joy this past year.
Half of the guests from Season 1 of the My Baseball History podcast were people I met directly because of twitter. It has its downsides, of course, but if you’re selective about the accounts you follow, I promise you’re going to have a great experience. If you need help starting an account, or want suggestions on great accounts to follow, reach out.
One of our most successful tweets, to date
Times are tough for a lot of people right now, but they’re also tough for museums and small businesses. Your donations, purchases, and memberships help us sustain as a museum, and help us achieve the goals we’re trying to achieve for ourselves and for our community. But there are absolutely still ways you can support us (or any small our community. But there are absolutely still ways you can support us (or any small business) which don’t involve you spending money.
Some of those ways include leaving a positive review for us online, telling your friends and family about us, following us on social media, actually engaging with our posts by liking, commenting or sharing them to your personal social media channels, or by signing up for our newsletter. If you’re reading this right now, you’ve already done at least one of those, and you’ve probably done more.
We are sincerely grateful for the support we’ve gotten this past year, but we also need that support to continue. We have such incredible things planned for the museum and for our community moving forward, which I’ll tell you all about in future newsletters.
For now, thank you for being here. Even though we’ve been a museum for more than 12 years, it feels like we’re just getting started. We’re thrilled you’re along for the ride.
P.S. If there are speciﬁc things you’d like to know about the museum, or about Shoeless Joe Jackson, send me an email or tweet at me and I’ll try to answer it in a future newsletter.
P.P.S. We’re going to spotlight one new museum member every newsletter starting with Issue 002, so if you want to be considered for that, make sure you become a member!
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If you are a baseball fan and are ever in the Greenville area of "upstate" South Carolina, I think you would enjoy a visit. You can find more info on their website HERE. I know I will be going back soon!
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