Problem Properties: Historical corner has seen better days in Little Chicago

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CAMPOBELLO, S.C. (WSPA)–A little known area of Spartanburg County may not look like much if you’re driving through. But people whose families there go back more than a century, say the collapsing buildings were once booming.

A four-way stop sign, some abandoned buildings, and an iconic sign mark this part of Campobello.

“My dad owned the next road, on that side. My uncle on that side owned everything down to the next road over yonder,” Furman Belcher, who has lived here his whole life, said.

Belcher is 81-years-old, and says this corner has a more historic name.

“They named it Little Chicago because of the bootleggers,” he said.

The town got its name during prohibition when a judge warned bootleggers that this area didn’t operate like Chicago, earning the small spot the iconic name. One building there caught the eye of a 7News viewer who wanted to find out what happened to the once popular corner store.

“My daddy and uncle built this store,” Belcher said.

It was once the heart and soul of this corner of Spartanburg County.

“You could buy chicken, eggs, anything you wanted. Even a whole fish come in barrels,” Belcher said.

It is now a pile of metal and wood, overgrown, and forgotten by many.

Spartanburg County property records show the building and this land has changed hands many times. The oldest records show Wallace Belcher owned the property up until 1956, when he deeded the land to J.B. Williams. When Williams died in 2013, the property changed hands to family members again, until it was sold in 2017 for $35,000 to the current owners, an LLC out of Landrum.

And it’s not the only property in Little Chicago that time has not been kind to. A cafe and a barbershop across the street are both empty now too, more spots where Belcher has fond memories of his childhood.

“We come out here on a Saturday and get a hair cut for 50-cents,” he said.

7News spoke with the owner of the property who says he bought it from the Williams family about three years go. He’s currently in the process of working with an environmental agency so he can pull a permit to have a contractor clean up the area.

Belcher says he’d like to see something done with the buildings he spent so much time in. But isn’t sure what, if anything can be done.

“Ain’t nothing we can do about it. Unless you hit it with a dozer. I don’t know, they tried to sell it but they talk like it cost over a million dollars to clean it up,” Belcher said.

If you know of any properties in your area that would be a good feature for this segment, send them to problemproperty@wspa.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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