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The life and legacy of John Linley in Anderson

By Rich Otter

Thursday, April 11, 2019 8:27AM

John Linley (1881-1957) is credited as being the developer of North Anderson. His history was related by James Harden on a tape recording he had made from which some of this material is borrowed.

Linley graduated from the Citadel in 1900. Pursuant to terms of his State teacher’s scholarship he agreed to teach in South Carolina for a few years. He chose Anderson after graduation, taught and served as a principal for seven years. In 1907 he joined W. Frank Farmer in a real estate and insurance firm.

In 1913 he presented a plan to businessmen J. H. Anderson, M. M. Mattison, J. Dexter Brown and J. D. Hammett for a new residential area to be known as North Anderson. A partnership was formed known as North Anderson Development Company. Linley was elected president and treasurer and the other investors became directors. Mauldin Street was the southern boundary, a heavily wooded area known as Jackson Square the northern boundary, North Main Street the eastern boundary and what is now Edgewood Avenue the western boundary.

The original development encompassed 206 lots facing 13 streets. These streets were: North Avenue, East North Avenue, West North Avenue, Anderson Avenue, South Holly Street, North Holly Street, Laurel Avenue, Forrest Avenue, Watson Avenue, Central Avenue, Westview Avenue, Club Drive and Park Drive. Many of the streets were 70 to 80 feet wide for beauty, convenience and where kids could play. Initially they were dirt and, until lines could be installed, the first homes were equipped with a backyard privy.

A subsidiary of the development company was formed by Linley and C. G. Boleman in 1913 that ran a street car the two miles to downtown Anderson and back, 15 minute one-way rides. There were street lights on every telephone pole and every electric light post. The lights were cut on at dusk by the streetcar motorman and were cut off by him after he had made his last run at night and had put the trolley in the car barn located behind Lindley’s home. The station house was where Park Drive runs into North Avenue.

James Harden recalled: “Mr. Miles Ellison was the motorman for the morning run and Fred Hewin was the motorman for the evening run. Many times our cook or some member of the family would stop the car and get change for $1 or 50 cents so we could buy a watermelon, cantaloupe or some other type of produce from the farmers that came by our homes in North Anderson.”

Open air picture shows were made available on West North Avenue and Andersonians could ride the street car to the theatre. A large public park was created, now bearing Linley’s name.

The Rose Hill Club, a social club with a pool, was constructed in the front of where the little league ballpark is now located. They could shoot clay pigeons from beside the pool.

Linley developed Moultrie Square, then Brown’s Woods and then Bedford Forest. His keen interest in history led him to name streets after Revolutionary War Soldiers, Civil War Soldiers, Lord Proprietors, and a Continental Congress Delegate. Streets were also named for children in the neighborhood, relatives, friends, and business associates.

He worked with Superintendent Dr. E. C. McCants to develop a school that eventually warped into North Anderson School, still operating at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and North Main Street as an adult education center.

His business, Home Realty & Construction Company, was located on East Whitner Street, now the site of Glenn Plumbing Company. The company also had a lumber mill in West Union and a lumber business in Belton as well as at the home office in Anderson. Grandson, retired attorney George Sands, Jr., remembers working in the cabinet shop in Anderson as a youngster and, when old enough to drive, working on construction sites and driving a lumber truck.

Linley had a large historical library and Sands recalls his grandfather sitting in a rocking chair in the evening sipping a glass of milk laced with a small amount of brandy while absorbed in history books. Sometimes he and his son John, Jr. would engage in a game of setback during a discussion of their business.

Part of his North Anderson development is now classified as the North Anderson Historical District.


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