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Central, South Carolina
Top, left to right: Downtown Central, Southern Wesleyan University, Central Roller Mills, Central High School
Top, left to right: Downtown Central, Southern Wesleyan University, Central Roller Mills, Central High School
Location of Central within South Carolina
Location of Central within South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Pickens
Incorporated 1875
 • Total 2.78 sq mi (7.21 km2)
 • Land 2.78 sq mi (7.20 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)
906 ft (276 m)
 • Total 5,159
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,937.05/sq mi (747.77/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code 864
FIPS code 45-13015
GNIS feature ID 1247236

Central is a town in Pickens County, South Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,159, roughly 3,000 of whom were considered permanent residents. Contrary to its name, it is not near South Carolina's center. It received its name from being halfway or the central point between Atlanta and Charlotte along the former Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railway line. Southern Wesleyan University's main campus is east of downtown Central.


Central was founded by the Atlanta and Richmond Air Line Company in a railroad boon that began in 1873. The town's name represents the fact that it is midway between Atlanta and Charlotte. Central was incorporated as a town on March 17, 1875.

In 1897, Southern Railway moved its headquarters from Central to Greenville; trains no longer stopped to change engines, and soon all shops and offices were closed. The establishment of Issaqueena Mill and in 1906, Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute (now Southern Wesleyan University) brought people back to the town.

Two buildings on Church Street in Central are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Central High School and Morgan House. The Central Roller Mills on Madden Bridge Rd. was listed in 2013.


Central is located at 34°43′26″N 82°46′47″W / 34.723781°N 82.779754°W / 34.723781; -82.779754. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2), all of it land.

Downtown Central is bisected by a rail line. A significant number of late 19th to early 20th century commercial buildings remain, most of which are a single story in height and retain a good amount of historical integrity. As of summer 2006, a downtown streetscape project is underway that is designed to improve the aesthetics of the area. There are also many modest pre-World War II homes near the downtown. Central has several very large apartment complexes, including The Summit at Cross Creek, which primarily house students from nearby Clemson University (who can use Clemson Area Transit to get there), as well as from Central's own Southern Wesleyan University.

The Central Heritage Society has a museum and information on many historic buildings and homes in the area.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 184
1890 396 115.2%
1900 349 −11.9%
1910 886 153.9%
1920 898 1.4%
1930 1,440 60.4%
1940 1,496 3.9%
1950 1,263 −15.6%
1960 1,473 16.6%
1970 1,550 5.2%
1980 1,914 23.5%
1990 2,438 27.4%
2000 3,522 44.5%
2010 5,159 46.5%
2019 (est.) 5,385 4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

Central is part of the GreenvilleMauldinEasley metropolitan area.

2010 census

Central's population has grown rapidly since 2000, mostly due to the construction of apartment complexes for students attending Clemson University, Southern Wesleyan and Tri-County Technical College.

2020 census

Central racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 3,375 64.32%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 911 17.36%
Native American 18 0.34%
Asian 305 5.81%
Other/Mixed 251 4.78%
Hispanic or Latino 387 7.38%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 5,247 people, 2,483 households, and 796 families residing in the town.


Public education is provided by the School District of Pickens County (Pickens 01), including D. W. Daniel High School, a 2005 National Blue Ribbon School.

The Central Clemson Regional Branch library, part of the Pickens County Library System, serves as the community's public library.

Central shares educational facilities and transportation services with the adjacent city of Clemson.

Southern Wesleyan University

Central is home to Southern Wesleyan University's main campus. Southern Wesleyan University is a SACS-accredited four-year Christian university founded in 1906. The main campus houses over 600 traditional undergraduate students. It has three main housing buildings, two fine arts centers, a dining hall, a library, a gym, and many class buildings. The campus is also home to FWC Alive, a Wesleyan church that offers a traditional worship service and a contemporary worship service.


Central has a public library, a branch of the Pickens County Library System.

Notable people

  • Lindsey Graham, senior United States senator from South Carolina, born and raised in Central
  • DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, born and raised in Central
  • Jarvis Jenkins, football player, born and raised in Central
  • Shaq Lawson, NFL defensive end for the Miami Dolphins
  • Furman L. Smith, Medal of Honor recipient, who as part of the 34th Infantry Division fought and died during World War II, is buried in Central.
  • Timothy L. Smith, noted historian and educator, born in Central

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Central (Carolina del Sur) para niños

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