April 20, 2010

The dedicatory address was given by Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap. Remarks were from Chairman of the Board of Trustees Hugh C. Lane, Jr. and Associate Professor and Director of Environmental Studies Kaye S. Savage. Response was by Trustee and principal Goodall Center benefactor D. Chris Goodall ’78. The dedicatory prayer was from Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and Professor of Religion Ronald R. Robinson ’78. President Dunlap’s address is printed below; the video of it and other presentations can be accessed at

 President Dunlap’s Dedicatory Address
Welcome to all of you and most welcome to our honored guests:  Chris and Linéll Goodall along with other members of the Goodall family, Jean and Glyn Morris, Anna and Justin Converse, Carlos Gutierrez and URRC, Katherine and Mike James, Janna and Mike Trammell, Cara Lynn and Chris Cannon, Bet and Bill Hamilton, and Carmen and Chuck Howard.

It’s curious, isn’t it, how some places marked so indelibly by the past seem full of emptiness while others are thick with dreams—and how some of those latter sites have the feel of former battlefields or deserted palaces where such melodramatic events occurred that they strike us as semi-haunted.  Chickamauga feels like that, or Fatehpur Sikri—but, much closer to home, so does any tin-roofed shack on the edge of a cotton field or the shell of a shut-down textile mill.  For a native of the midlands like me—and despite my friends who live around here or the burgers and fries I’ve had at Dollene’s—this spot where we’re gathered now feels so full of ghosts to me that, like an archaeologist trying to dig down through successive centuries, I’m inescapably aware of all the men and women who worked those endless shifts here at Glendale Shoals while the spindles were still humming and the mill itself was like a busy hive with constant coming and going, and, of all those Sunday afternoons, when the ladies in white dresses rode the streetcars with their beaus and their parasols to the scenic end of the line, crossing that steel-girdered bridge and strolling around the pond that used to spread out beyond it, and of how, in the minds of those vanished people, there were all the usual hopes and fears and baseball games and lightning bugs at night so that, looking backward from their time, they too were wistfully aware that they were living at the end of a long, long chain of events stretching back to the Revolutionary War and the skirmishes that had occurred just down the road, adding the red life’s blood of patriots and redcoats to what had been earlier spilled by unnamed Cherokee braves and the animals they were hunting.  All that, and, in between, an iron foundry there on the Lawson’s Fork somewhere in among those other locations, and, two or three centuries later, the people still living here who were startled out of their sleep one night to find the mill was on fire and watched it burn to the ground—all but a staircase and a couple of chimneys and the office where old Mr. Converse knew the big safe’s combination and the contents of the books that clerk after clerk had written in, keeping the business going that had finally come to a halt.  After which, there was a sort of lull, though not a complete cessation:  life went on here in Glendale, but the crowds were mostly gone and not everybody was sorry to see them go, though at night it could be said the ghosts outnumbered the people and it must have seemed that this particular place was waiting for its history to resume. . . which is, of course, why we’ve come together here, at this auspicious moment which is, for us, between the past and future, contributing in some small measure to what has been and what will be.

Well, I’m waxing so rhapsodic because, over the past several years, I too have absorbed the vision first shared with me by B.G. Stephens, who grew up here in Glendale some sixty or seventy years ago, and John Lane, who lives just a short paddle up the river, and Glyn Morris, who bought the mill and with his own generous passion for this site wanted a rebirth to occur after it burned in 2004.  There were others, of course—Ellen Goldey, Doug Rayner, Terry Ferguson—who brought their Wofford classes here and saw the possibilities.  And SPACE [Spartanburg Area Conservancy] and PCF [Palmetto Conservation Foundation] who were willing to partner with us on linking our projects together.  And the scholars convening for ASLE [The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment] from all over the world who visited this site and let themselves be quoted—saying, in effect, that here was an opportunity to create an environmental center unlike any other, a place where one could study and observe both the natural beauty of the Piedmont and the urbanizing changes underway even here at Glendale Shoals, now and in the future.  And Kaye Savage, of course, who saw the program in its infancy and signed on to be its first director.  And, above all, I should note that, literally within minutes of my passing news of Glyn Morris’s offer to the Wofford Board of Trustees, Jim Bostic had made the initial gift that got the project underway, and the Converses, the James, the Cannons, the Trammels, the Hamiltons, the Howards, and Carlos Gutierrez along with many others stepped up with their own generous pledges, creating a succession of donors that culminated in the extraordinary gift that finally enabled Donnie Love and McMillan Smith to go to work and make the dream a reality.

That extraordinary gift came to us, of course, from Chris Goodall and his family, and here we are this afternoon, on the doorstep of the Goodall Environmental Studies Center, met to dedicate a facility that, in a matter of just a few more months, will be further embellished with vineyards and botanical gardens, an exterior deck and classroom, and, most significantly, an ever-increasing stream of students—not just from Wofford College, but from public and private K-12 schools here and elsewhere in the county, converging on this spot as we have done today. . . and as those Sunday excursionists used to do so many years ago.

One thing we can say for certain:  time continues to run like water over that dam, and this moment will give way to countless mornings and afternoons that will in turn be vividly remembered by those who’re still to come, who will benefit so hugely from the vision and generosity that I’ve recounted.  What we celebrate today is a worthy accomplishment for us, for Glendale, for Wofford College—but also for all those others whose ghosts are crowding about us. . . applauding, I’m fairly certain.  It is my part now to ask you all to join in that applause.

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