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Duke Brands Announces Eugenia Duke Bridge Dedication

Greenville, SC —Eugenia Duke, one of Greenville’s earliest businesswomen, was commemorated on Thursday, March 29 when the bridge between Greenville's Peace Center and RiverPlace was officially named the Eugenia Duke Bridge.  Duke Brands, in cooperation with the City of Greenville and the Greenville Community Foundation is the sponsor of the bridge naming.

Duke Brands President and CEO Andrew Smart led the naming project as owner of Duke Sandwich Company, which was one of the first businesses Mrs. Duke began in 1917 from her kitchen on Manly Street in Greenville. The bridge naming agreement allowed the City to make improvements to enhance the bridge, such as including lights, repainting and other repairs.

“It’s fitting that this bridge will be named for Eugenia Duke because she was a pioneer in woman-owned businesses in Greenville at a time when women did not even have the right to vote,” said Mr. Smart.  “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Mrs. Duke’s legacy will serve as an inspiration to young women who are also following their dreams of business ownership.”

During the dedication ceremony, an announcement was made by Deborah McKetty, Executive Director of CommunityWorks, regarding a partnership with Duke Brands to recognize women in business. A permanent historical plaque will be unveiled on the RiverPlace end of the Eugenia Duke bridge during the ceremony.

About Duke Brands and Eugenia Duke:
One hundred years ago a woman, with little more than a family mayonnaise recipe and a dream, launched a business in the Upstate that would become a great southern success story.  In 1917, Eugenia Duke began making mayonnaise and sandwich spreads in her kitchen on Manly Street and set about selling her homemade sandwiches on the streets of downtown Greenville for a dime apiece.  Her deliciously simple spreads were an instant hit and the business really took off when an influx of soldiers arrived to train for WWI at the newly built Camp Sevier, a National Guard Training Camp that operated from 1917 until early 1919.  It was at Camp Sevier that her legacy began.

Popular sandwiches such as egg salad, chicken salad and pimento cheese all made with the family mayonnaise recipe were sold in downtown drug stores, including Carpenter Brothers, Community Drug Store and Greenville Pharmacy.  She opened Duke’s Tea Room in the historic Ottaray Hotel, where she sold her sandwiches and a variety of side dishes.  Duke Sandwiches were also sold in bustling textile mills.

As her business grew, she opened an office on South Main Street, next to the current Army-Navy Store, and began manufacturing mayonnaise in an old coach factory building next to the Reedy River.  The Eugenia Duke Bridge will overlook that facility, now known as the Wyche Pavillion.  In 1929 she sold her mayonnaise plant to the C.F. Sauer Company, a family-owned and operated business and the recipes to her sandwich spreads to her bookkeeper, J. Allen Hart.  Hart was married to Gladys Smart and ultimately sold Duke Sandwich to his brother-in-law, Loran Smart, Sr.  Duke Sandwich remains in the Smart family with the third generation now operating it. 

Eugenia Duke, who was born in Columbus, GA in 1881, the youngest of 10 children, passed away in 1971 at age 90.