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Incorporating Public Art and Community Development - Robert Smalls Townhomes

February 24, 2022 | Features

The Robert Smalls Townhomes are a soon-to-be-completed 190-unit affordable housing development that will serve to help many with their living situations and bring modern homes to the Northside Spartanburg area.

The development will also provide a new opportunity for current Norris Ridge residents and many other Spartanburg families. The $30-plus million development will include a mix of 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units. Each will include its own front porch, back patio, modern kitchens with appliances, and a washer and dryer. Read more about this development.

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It also serves as an opportunity to celebrate Robert Smalls' legacy in a creative way and is one of the many positive movements happening in Spartanburg to address equity and inclusion.

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Who was Robert Smalls?

Roberts Smalls was born on April 5, 1839, into slavery in Beaufort, but during the Civil War, while serving as a deckhand, he bravely commandeered a heavily armored Southern warship docked in the Charleston harbor and used it to transport a total of 17 passengers which included his family and several other slaves to freedom in the North. 

He eventually served in the Union Army and went on to become one of the first Black men to serve in the SC General Assembly and in the SC State Senate. Read more about Robert Smalls’ legacy here.

Integrating Public Art:

The Robert Smalls Townhomes will include a community center, a clubhouse, playground, green space, and a trail that will connect to The Dan, Spartanburg’s joint trail network. 

Chapman Cultural Center was approached to manage the public art project meant to honor Robert Smalls and showcase his legacy in a creative way. Artists are encouraged to apply for a two-part mural to be installed in the spring of 2022. This mural will be located in the clubhouse, which will serve the needs of the tenants and will be open as a meeting place for local groups and clubs. 

The final installation will commemorate the life of Robert Smalls and educate the community as to his amazing feats of bravery and his service in the SC government. Words, phrases, dates, quotes, etc. may be incorporated into the mural to help tell the story.

Preference will be given to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists, and to Spartanburg County artists, but all artists with a vision and passion for this project are encouraged to apply. Interested artists can learn more and apply here.

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