Columbia Main Street

I picked up the Main Street: Self-Guided Architectural Walking Tour brochure at the visitor center on Lincoln Street. The brochure is written by the Historic Columbia Foundation. You can’t download it (at least not in 2017). As soon as I had my hands on it, I planned my trip. The map inside points out the places of interest and there’s nice information about each building highlighted.

The tour starts at the capital building, but I started at Main and Hampton and worked my way up, then down. It being Saturday, Soda City, the downtown market, was in full swing. If you don’t want to wade through people, you may want to come another day. Sunday should be nice. If you want to do a little bit of shopping and eating, come Saturday.

While most buildings are from the twentieth and twenty-first century, there are a few from the 1800’s. When General Sherman and his troops came through they pretty much burned Columbia down to the ground. Throughout the years older buildings have been updated and rehabilitated. Of one, 1320 Main, only the 1912 façade remains, having been incorporation into the much younger (built 2006) Meridian Building. But even newer structures have character. Here’s a shortened tour.

1200 Main is Columbia’s third skyscraper. It was built in 1914 and updated twice, 1965 and 1980. It’s in the Chicago style of architecture with Tudor Gothic elements. It houses the local ABC station.

1210 – 14 Main – The Brennen Building. This is one of the oldest buildings downtown, built around 1870. It’s a good representation of what buildings looked like after the Civil War. The balcony, half hidden by the tree, was added later.

1230 Main – First Citizens Bank Building. It was built in 2006. The style is post-modern with Art Deco influences.

1320 Main – Former Consolidated Building and now an entrance to the Meridian building. The façade itself is at 1328 Main and was built 1912 in the Spanish Gothic style.

1332 Main – Arcade Mall. Interior. This too is from 1912. I always though it weird they had a mall like this back then. I always though of malls as something in the late twentieth century. It’s L-shaped and was Columbia’s first indoor shopping center.

1339 Main – This is an interesting building in an intriguing style – New Brutalism. I’d never heard of that before.

1400 Main – Palmetto building, now Sheraton Hotel. This was Columbia’s second skyscraper (the first one is the Barringer Building at 1338). It was built in 1913, updated in the 1980’s, and rehabilitated in 2008. The style is the Chicago School and Gothic Revival. It almost succumbed to the wrecking ball, but survived.

1508 Main – Kress Building. Art Deco. It was built in 1934 and rehabilitated in 1999. During the Civil Rights movement, black and white college students held sit-ins at the white’s only lunch counter.

To date myself, I remember once going into Kress some time before it closed. I found it unique in that it was L shaped with an entrance on Hampton as well as Main Street. The façade is terra cotta.

1530 Main – Canal Dime Savings Bank. This Richardsonian Romanesque style building was built in 1895. The Canal Dime Bank closed three years later, but three other banks used this building until 1936. I like it because it’s so different.

1607 – 13 Main – These three buildings are, from left to right:

State Theater (now Nickelodeon), built 1870’s, modified 1936, rehabilitated 2012.

King’s, built 1870’s, modified early 1900’s and 1970s.

Lever Building, 1903, original storefront altered.

Main Street

Main Street. Where all the action is. Or used to be. Or where it’s at again. It all depends on where you are. Driving around, you’ll never know what kind of Main Street you’ll find and how you’ll find it. Maybe there’s not much left, physically, but the memories are still there and there’s always something interesting. If you’re lucky you’ll bump into someone who remembers what it used to be, bad or good.

According to the Municipal Association of South Carolina, there are 270 towns and cities with a population of 50 and higher. 270 main streets, they maybe called something other than ‘Main’ Street. 270 downtowns. Somehow I thought there’d be more.

Big or small, I like to take a walk around Main Street, time willing. Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, etc, all have bustling downtowns. In the smaller places, the sidewalks might roll in after six p.m. leaving you amazed the store’s closed so early. It happened to me. Here are a few downtowns, Main Streets, I’ve taken pictures of. Enjoy.

Sumter with Opera House

North

Newberry with their opera house

Mullins

Georgetown                                                    Cheraw

Great Falls

Chester                                                  Olar

 

Train Depots

Aiken Train Depot

I’ve always been a fan of train locomotives and the railroad. I’ve traveled on a variety of trains, no Amtrak, but on some special excursions from kiddie trains to old time trains powered by locomotives. I decided to indulge my interest in railroads by stopping at train depots and taking pictures of them and learning more of the railroad industry in South Carolina. At the website below one can see how the industry grew throughout the years starting in the 1830’s when the Charleston to Hamburg line started. There’s also a list of all the Railroad lines, passenger and freight, that existed in the state from the Air Line Railroad to the Wilson to Summerton Railroad. There’s more too so check it out.

http://www.carolana.com/SC/Transportation/railroads/home.html

Two other good website not to miss are:

http://scdepots.com/ and http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/trains-depots/

The former lists the train depots by county. Click on a county name and find all the depots by county. The latter, Sciway, has always good information but its list is not as intensive as scdepots.

The South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro has a website: http://www.scrm.org/ Check it out to see when the train trip is scheduled to run. And, of course, don’t miss The Best Friend of Charleston Museum (http://bestfriendofcharleston.org/) which features a replica of the first train in South Carolina.

Focus on Columbia

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I’m going to be limited where I travel this year so I’ve decided to concentrate on sights in and around Columbia, our state’s capital. Every month I’ll go visit a new place for me, or maybe an old one. In January, I went to Riverbanks Zoo, but I’ll do a post on that later. Right now I’ll put links for places I’ve already written a post. There’s plenty to see and visit so keep tuned.

City of Columbia

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/columbia/

Congaree National Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/congaree-national-park/

Harbison State Forest

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/harbison-state-forest/

River Front Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/river-front-park-historic-columbia-canal/

Sesquicentennial Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/sesquicentennial-state-park/

Columbia Resources

I was surprised to find there are so little resources on tourist places in Columbia. Even the web sites didn’t do much for me although they offered some tidbits. Maybe because I already knew the sites they highlight. Maybe because they didn’t offer information on what I am interested in – low cost/no cost activities, walking tours, green spaces, and historical areas. The brochures I picked up at the visitor center are more chock full of ‘stuff’ than the websites. Book wise was the pretty much the same as the websites, general information only and emphasis on restaurants, shopping, and the higher priced activities.

Book wise the South Carolina travel books will have to do, but the websites are a better alternative.

 

Brochure Names (with associated web address)

Columbia South Carolina 5km/10km Historic Capital City Walk (www.columbiacvb.com)

General Sherman’s March on Columbia, South Carolina – Self Guided Tour (www.shermansmarch.com)

Home Places, Work Places, Resting Places: African-American Heritage Sites Tour (historiccolumbia.org)

Three Rivers Greenway (www.RiverAlliance.org)

 

Web Sites

http://www.columbiacvb.com/

http://www.historiccolumbia.org/

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/richland-county/

Courthouses

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Whenever I visit a county seat, I make sure to drive past the courthouse and take a photograph of it. Courthouses tell nice stories of history including how the county was formed. Some are pretty old, from around the time the county was created, and some fairly young. The styles vary with some ornate and picturesque and others looking like regular government buildings. Robert Mills, SC’s leading architect from the early 1800’s had his hand in a few like the one in Winnsboro (Fairfield County.)

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I’ve lived near two courthouses, the one in Hampton County which was built in 1878 and remodeled a few times. The last time they moved the fountain from the front to more to the side. The annual watermelon festival is held on the grounds of it. The Allendale courthouse was a few blocks from where I lived. The interior burned at the time a fact I didn’t hear until my mother asked me about it the next day. Even with the main road one block over I didn’t hear the sirens of the fire trucks roaring past. It’s since been renovated. Sad to say I don’t have a picture of it.

Here are a few more courthouses I’ve encountered in my travels.

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Union (Union County). This impressive neoclassical building was completed in 1913, replacing the Robert Mills courthouse of 1825. That was torn down in 1911. The police station down the road was also designed by Robert Mills.

Winnsboro (Fairfield Connty) This was designed by Robert Mills and built 1822-23. The distinctive circular staircase and piazza were added when the building was remodeled in 1939. This was when they covered the brick exterior in sandstone plaster. I think I would prefer to see the brick, but that’s just me. The picture is at the top of the post.

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Greenwood (Greenwood County) A much more modern building that was built in 1967 to replace a previous building from 1898.

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Chester (Chester County) This was built in 1852.

Sumter  sumter-sumter-downtown-03-courthouse-sumter-statue

Newberry newberry-newberry-37-newberry-county-courthouse

McCormick mccormick-mccormick-04-mccormick-co-courthouse

To learn more about courthouses in SC, check out the website at sciway –

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/courthouses/

Fall

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I realize I’m a little behind here talking about fall colors, but maybe there’ll still be some color when this piece is published. Fall is a great time to take daytrips. You don’t even have to go that far, just drive around town and admire the trees in people’s yards. In Chester I saw the most spectacular sights of bright yellow leaves under a bare tree. It was like shards of the sun had fallen. Didn’t get a picture of that, but did get another nice fall view there.

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Chester State Park

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Sesquicentennial State Park (Columbia)

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On a stone wall around Old Brick Church in Fairfield County

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Also in Chester County, in the town of Chester, Brainard Institute

SC Hiking Books

When I plan a trip, two of the books I like to consult are these:  Hiking South Carolina by John Clark and John Dantzler and 50 Hikes in South Carolina by Johnny Molloy. I had another, but I prefer these.

While yes, they cover some of the same hikes, they also contain different ones, and one or the other goes into more detail. For example for the Big Bend Falls hike, one books describes just how to get to the falls and the other details the entire Big Bend Trail.

One is not better than the other. If hiking is your thing and, if you can, get both. I snagged both of mine at a book sale. You can find the most recent editions in a hiking store, book store, or on-line. If you can only get one, I’ll describe each and you can make up your own mind.

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50 Hikes in South Carolina

In the beginning of the book is a map of the state with the locations of all the trails mentioned in the book. With each hike description there is a topographical map useful in gauging how hilly the terrain is, but get a USGS map if the trail is rough and not well marked. The book, both of them, will tell you which one to get.

Also in the beginning is a table listing the hikes, their nearest city, the distance of trail, and other comments like if there is a waterfall or campground along the trail. The trails are divided into upstate, midlands, and lowcountry so you don’t have to go through the entire book looking for trails that are near to one another.

Each trail description is prefaced with the total distance, the hiking time, vertical rise, and difficulty rating. In the body of the description it tells you how to get to the trail head and describes the hike. There is a photo for each entry.

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Hiking South Carolina

In the beginning of the book there is a state map of all trails listed and a legend (nice) for the maps that accompany the entries. The introduction includes how to be prepared, trail regulations, a section on the natural history of the state. This book includes the longer trails such as the Foothills and Chattooga. It does not include the Palmetto trail. That’s a volume of books by itself.

Each of the 62 entries contains a map, general description, location, distance, difficulty, trail conditions, and fees, if any. The body of the entry tells one how to find the trailhead, a description of the hike, and if there are facilities or lodging nearby. With the hilly trails there’s a graph showing the change in elevation. There are maps, but not topographical ones. Not every entry has a photo.

One thing I liked about the book were the appendixes: For more information (web addresses), Further reading, Hiker’s checklist, and Hike list. This organizes the hikes by distance – short and easy to long and strenuous.

Check these books out. Your local library may have a copy you can check out to see which one you prefer.

Libraries

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Sumter Carnegie Library

Libraries might not be what one might think of when sightseeing. I can even image groans coming from this suggestion. Being a librarian though I like to swing by, see the architecture of the place, and even go in and visit. They may surprise you.

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Union Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Libraries are interesting for their architecture and history. Built in the early 1900’s with grants from the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I believe there are about seventeen public and academic libraries built with those funds. There’s one in Union that’s still a library and one in Sumter, which sits sad and empty.

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Ninety-Six Library

The main branch of the Richland County Public Library has a nice mural of the Wild Things in its children section. The library in Ninety Six has a nice mural in it too, painted by a local artist. I’ve shown a picture of it already I believe. In Chester they had a section where you could purchase used books. I did not walk away from there empty handed.

Libraries are great places to get information. In Union, you can get a map of the city to take the tour. In Greenwood I visited their new library in order to find a place I wanted to visit. The librarians are always eager to help.

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Newberry – former post office now library

McBee – former train depot now library