Mayor Pro Tem Jil Littlejohn was joined this morning by representatives from Duke Brands and other community leaders to officially dedicate the pedestrian bridge located behind the Wyche Pavilion as the Eugenia Duke Bridge. Discussion about naming the bridge began as Duke Brand CEO Andrew Smart prepared to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the launch of Eugenia Duke’s successful sandwich and homemade spreads enterprise.
Eugenia Duke made and sold sandwiches and spreads, including her own mayonnaise, from her kitchen on Manley Street in 1917. In 1923, in addition to her highly sought-after sandwiches, Eugenia Duke began bottling her acclaimed mayonnaise recipe in the building now known as the Wyche Pavilion. Her product became so popular that demand soon outpaced the facility’s capacity, and in 1929 Eugenia Duke sold the recipe for Duke’s Mayonnaise to the C.F. Sauer Company. Today, her original recipe for Duke’s Mayonnaise, still bottled under her moniker, is a staple in southern kitchens.
The pedestrian bridge’s proximity to Eugenia Duke’s original bottling facility in the Wyche Pavilion coupled with its own emblematic status is a fitting tribute to her noteworthy business achievements and perseverance in a challenging era for women. “When I think of Eugenia Duke’s story, I’m moved by her vision and entrepreneurship, especially at a time when women were not allowed to vote, or thought capable of owning their own businesses,” said Jil Littlejohn, Mayor Pro Tem of Greenville City Council. “I’m delighted the City is naming this popular landmark in Eugenia Duke’s honor, so that we, along with the bridge’s countless daily visitors, may acknowledge the work of a woman who broke barriers and, as she took a step forward for herself, took a step forward for all women.”
Prior to today’s dedication, the bridge underwent a much-needed renovation, which included a fresh coat of paint, new wooden walkway planks and installation of state-of-the-art lighting. The lighting work was performed by United Electrical Distributors, NC&E Electrical Contractors and The Schneider Company.