The seat of Butler County, Greenville is located in the south-central section of Alabama. The city has a mayor/council form of government. Greenville has also been referred to as “Camellia City” because of the popularity of that shrub in the town for many decades.
Greenville Train Depot The original county seat was established at nearby Fort Dale just after the creation of the county, pending the selection of a more permanent location. On December 18, 1821, the state legislature authorized a permanent seat at Buttsville, named for Capt. Samuel Butts, a Georgian who was killed in the Creek War of 1813-14 near present-day Tuskegee, Macon County. The settlers petitioned the state legislature to rename the town Greenville, which it did on December 28, 1822. A frame courthouse was subsequently constructed, but it burned in 1852 or 1853. According to one account, the town was at least locally referred to as Butlersville for a time, the name used by the county clerk and postmaster, Nathan Cook. The courthouse fire destroyed all early records, however, including maps of the town that may have referenced Butlersville. A railroad line was laid through Greenville in 1855, connecting it with Montgomery, Birmingham, and Nashville, Tennessee, to the north, and Mobile and New Orleans to the southwest. These developments, together with the opening of lands in the southern part of the county, prompted economic growth. In 1871, the decaying second courthouse was torn down and replaced with a brick structure. Greenville continued to thrive as a center of the cotton economy in Butler County after it was connected with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in the late nineteenth century. A new Victorian-style courthouse was constructed in 1904; its dome was replaced in 1977. The town celebrated its centennial on July 4, 1922, with what was described at the time as a “grand” parade that included historical floats and automobiles. The town and region also prospered from the timber industry, which was attracted to the area’s large stands of eastern red cedars much coveted by the wood products and pencil industries.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Greenville recorded a population of 7,478. Of that number, 59.9 percent identified themselves as African American, 36.6 percent as white, 1.2 percent as two or more races, 2.2 percent as Asian, 0.5 percent as Hispanic, and 0.1 as American Indian. The city’s median household income was $41,012, and per capita income was $21,228.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Greenville was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (30.7 percent)
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (21.1 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (10.9 percent)
- Retail trade (9.1 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (7.0 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.9 percent)
- Public administration (4.9 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (3.3 percent)
- Construction (2.3 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.0 percent)
- Information (1.4 percent)
- Wholesale trade (0.8 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.5 percent)
Greenville High School Public education in Greenville is administered by the Butler County School District, which oversees two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. In addition, there is a vocational school for students from 10th to 12th grade.
Greenville lies on State Route 10, which runs east-west and connects the town to nearby Interstate 65 to the west and U.S. Route 31 to the east. The recently renovated Mac Crenshaw Airport, formerly the Greenville Municipal Airport, provides air-transport services, and CSX Railroad Transportation serves the city as well.
Events and Places of Interest
Ritz Theatre in Greenville The city owns and maintains a number of outdoor recreational facilities, including Dunbar Park and Recreation Center, Day Park, and Beeland Park, which collectivelly have baseball, basketball, and softball facilities. The Greenville Country Club features a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. The city-owned Art Deco-themed Ritz Theatre is a performance and art space that was renovated in 1990. The 1923 Greenville Railroad Depot preserves the rail and economic history of the town and also hosts exhibits works from local artists. Many other historic buildings can be found in the West Commerce Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are many other homes and commercial structures in the city. Pioneer Cemetery has unique headstones designed and patented by J. R. Abram; no two headstones are alike.
Each November, the city holds its Sweet Potato Festival, and the Christmas parade takes place in December. Sherling Lake, located four miles northwest of Greenville, offers camping, recreational vehicle facilities, fishing, boat rentals, picnic facilities, and more. It was named for Dan Sherling, who donated 275 acres to the state. Sherling Lake is also incorporated into the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Cambrian Ridge, which features 36 holes, including a nine-hole short course.
The Heritage of Butler County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2003.
Barefield, Marilyn Davis. Butler County in the Nineteenth Century. Birmingham, Ala.: Hahn Publishing,1978.
Little, John Buckner. History of Butler County, Alabama, 1815-1885. Cincinnati: Elm Street Print Company, 1885.