GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – From the open space to the playground, Unity Park’s roots run much deeper than what meets the eye.

“From the very early days we quickly learned that Unity Park was not just a park,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White.

What was historically known as a segregated site, is now a location where the community unites.

“You had Meadowbrook on one side and Mayberry on the other side,” said Mary Duckett, President of the Southernside Neighborhood Association. “No matter who you are, or the color of your skin, how your eyes are shaped, whatever ethnicity you are, you are a part of a community.”

Soon a new tower will signify the evolution of the community over time and shine a light on local heroes.

“It just tells a story about Unity Park in a more significant way,” said Mayor White.

Once complete, the new Honor Tower will stand 125 feet above the Reedy River. It will be dedicated to law enforcement, firefighters, the military, utility crews, medical/EMS and public health workers.

The iconic structure will have an observation deck offering panoramic views of Greenville, as well as a plaza at the base of the tower for public ceremonies, memorials, and tributes to veterans and first responders. 

“For a long, long time we didn’t have a place to honor first responders and veterans on Veterans Day,” said Mayor White.

The mayor announced a generous donation Thursday to the project at Unity Park. He said the city raised $5.5 million in private donations “much quicker than anticipated.” It was made possible by several different donations from the community, including one in particular.

$1 million, among the largest donations, was given recently by Vivian Wong and her late husband, Thomas. The two are longtime community philanthropists and entrepreneurs.

Mayor White said it seemed fitting to name it the ‘Thomas and Vivian A. Wong Honor Tower,’ in their honor.

Almost 60 years ago, the Wongs moved to South Carolina from Hong Kong. Over the years they rooted their lives in and gave back to the Greenville community.

“Understanding the vision for the town and the park, I think it’s going to be wonderful for the community,” said Medina Cauthen, Thomas and Vivian’s daughter.

Mayor White said the goal is to continue to create a space for unity in the community, one project at a time.

“With the signature of Unity Park, it’s the right place for it,” said Mayor White.

The city plans to break ground on the project in the first quarter of 2023. Mayor White said it should take about six months to complete.