Introduction to Greenville, North Carolina
The North Carolina city of Greenville, county seat of Pitt County, is located in the north central coastal plain region of eastern North Carolina, approximately 85 miles east of the state capital of Raleigh. Situated on the Tar River, Greenville is home to East Carolina University (ECU) and also to Pitt Community College.
Founded in 1771, the city's original name was Martinsborough, named after the Royal Governor Josiah Martin. In 1786, the name was changed to Greeneville to honor Revolutionary War hero General Nathanael Greene, and was later shortened to Greenville. A major cotton export center during much of the 19th century, Greenville later became one of the state’s leading tobacco marketing and warehouse centers. Until the 1960's, the city's image was entrenched as a tobacco center which also housed a small state-supported college. But a booming enrollment rate at the former East Carolina Teachers College brought about a change in the school's name (to East Carolina University) and emphasis, marked by the growth and expansion of the ECU Medical School. Today Greenville is a major industrial and economic center for eastern North Carolina, with an economy based on education, medicine, and international manufacturing.
Recreation and Culture in Greenville
Greenville and Pitt County boast over 20 parks and numerous public pools, tennis courts and golf courses. The city-run Greenville Aquatics & Fitness Center, located in the Greenville Industrial Park, is a full-service wellness center with an Olympic-size indoor pool. Greenville also serves as a regional entertainment and cultural hub for all of eastern North Carolina. Local theater groups such as the Magnolia Arts Center and the Greenville Theater Project contribute heavily to the performing arts scene in the community. The Smiles and Frowns Playhouse has provided first-rate children's theatre in the city for almost twenty years. The Greenville Museum of Art is a fully accredited art museum offering both beginner and advanced instruction in all aspects of art. Other notable cultural sites include:
- The May Museum and Park: Housed in an 1870s home, the museum chronicles the cultural and commercial heritage of Farmville and Western Pitt County.
- The East Carolina Village of Yesteryear: A depiction of Pitt County life as it was from 1840 to 1940. Included are a country store, a log church, a traditional school house, farm machinery, and other period artifacts.
- Wellington B. Gray Gallery: Located on the ECU campus, the gallery features exhibits of contemporary artists as well as student and faculty exhibitions.
- The Ledonia Wright African-American Cultural Center: Houses ECU's 150-piece art collection made by the Kuba of Zaire.
East Carolina University maintains an extensive and very successful intercollegiate athletic program. Its sports teams, nicknamed the Pirates, compete in NCAA's Division I-A and participate in the Conference USA. The ECU baseball program has been nothing short of sensational, having recorded 54 winning seasons in the past 56 years. The Baseball Pirates, annually ranked as having one of the nation's top collegiate programs, have appeared in 22 NCAA Regional Tournaments and have won over 40 games in five of their last seven seasons. In football, ECU has had over 50 of its alumni selected in the NFL Draft since 1961 and has produced eight players who have played in Super Bowls dating back to 1985.
Fans of professional sports can find major league hockey action about an hour away in Raleigh, home to the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. A few minutes further west is the city of Durham, where Minor League Baseball's Durham Bulls reside. The Bulls are the AAA-affiliate of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and they play in the International League.