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 in Columbia

I began my tour of the capital city’s train attractions at Union Station on Main Street, south of the capital building. Like most all the surviving depots it is a restaurant and they’ve all taken care of the historic structures. The Union Station was built around 1902 and is the most ornate of the Columbia depots. Frank Pierce Milburn, who designed the building also designed the SC Statehouse dome. Service stopped here 1968. A pity, but that’s the way it is.

Union Station

My second stop was the Amtrak Station on Pulaski Street. It’s a block east of Huger Street. It’s not hard to miss with the caboose right by the road. It’s not much of a building, but then there aren’t many trains that come to call. Used to busier train stations, I have to admit this floored me. I guess that explained the near empty, small parking lot and single platform.

Amtrak Station on Pulaski Street

In order to visit the rest of my railroad related sites I walked along Gervais Street. My trip included the bridge over the railroad tracks allowing me a different view of the Amtrak station. Further up, I was walking toward Lincoln from the bridge, at 800 Gervais is what used to be the South Carolina Railroad (at one time the SC Canal and Railroad Company) freight station. The lot east of the buiding, the parking lot area, used to be train tracks. The station was originally built around the 1850’s and was burned during the Civil War in 1865 when Sherman’s troops came through. It was rebuilt in 1867 and functioned as a depot until the train tracks here were removed in the 1980’s to ease traffic congestion. It is also a restaurant as is the Seaboard Air Line Station at 1200 Lincoln just of Gervais and the Seaboard Air Line Freight Station across the street at 902 Gervais. Both were built in 1903.

South Carolina Rail Depot

Seaboard Air Line Station

Another must see was the Lincoln/Seaboard Air Line tunnel. This is now a pedestrian way going underneath an entire block from Washington to Lady Street and parallels Lincoln Street. When I went the last time it was being fixed up as it flooded during the 2015 October flood, but one could still go through. I thought it was pretty neat, definitely a cool spot for the summer.

Harbison State Forest

I’d heard plenty about Harbison State Forest, but never visited until a national hike day, or maybe it was visit a park day. Whatever day it was, I went. Harbison Forest is located in Columbia along the Broad River. It’s not difficult to find being just east of Broad River Road. I pulled in the parking lot, nice and shady, paid my five dollars and studied the trail options.

richland-harbison-sf-05-firebreak-trail-creek

In this 2,177 acre park there are plenty of trails to choose, twenty miles worth! Choose from the easy Discovery trail, 0.5 miles, to the six mile, difficult Lost Creek trail. The 4.4 mile, moderate Firebreak trail which interconnects to other trails. Or you can customize your trip if you wish, like I did. I can’t even tell you which ones I used. 

richland-harbison-sf-07-firebreak-trail-flower

The trails are for use for hikers and off road bicycling except for two which are for hiking only. Listen out for the call from a rider to announce themselves. There’s a canoe ramp that provides access for kayaks and canoes.

Harbison State Forest is one of the largest urban green spaces located within a city limits in the eastern part of the U.S. It’s named after Samuel P. Harbison who is/was from Pennsylvania. He provided much of the funds needed for the land to be purchased. Thank you, Mr. Harbison.

How to get there:

Take I-20 to exit #65 and go northwest on US #176 (Broad River Road) 5.9 kilometers (3.7 miles). The forest will be on the right side of the road.

Links:

https://www.state.sc.us/forest/refharb.htm

What’s Close by:

River Front Park and Historic Columbia Canal

Riverbanks Zoo

Lake Murray

Hitchcock Woods – Aiken

Aiken - Aiken - Hitchcock Woods 12 Sand River

It was in Hitchcock Woods that I found a bit of nature I’d been searching for a few years – a river of sand. I’d read about it in various articles and books, tantalizing tidbits, yet a mystery to its location. Rumor had it somewhere in the western part of the state, but where? Not until recently did I discover its whereabouts. Hitchcock Woods. Then to find where in Hitchcock Woods is and to find where in Hitchcock Woods this river ran.

And there is was, on the map I downloaded from the website. Sand River.

Hitchcock Woods is located in the town of Aiken and is not far from downtown. I chose the entrance at the end of South Boundary, close to the Aiken Historical Museum. After parking I made my way along a wide path mindful of the instructions. When one walks in this park, horses have priority and when one sees or hears a horse approach, stop and step to the side. One never knows how a horse will react to someone on foot. On my trip, a horse stopped cold and eyeballed me awhile.

This place was once part of the Winter Colony, where wealthy Northerners came to escape the cold winters of home. Thomas Hitchcock from New York owned the land and used it for fox hunting. Today it’s considered the largest urban forest preserve in the U.S. The 2,000 acres are free to explore by foot or horse using the sixty-five or so miles of trails. There is no bike riding allowed. Birdwatching is allowed.

It didn’t take long for me to find Sand River. There are several paths that lead from the main trail to it. You squeeze past low cliffs of natural clay, kaolin, and there you are in a narrow gorge. White sand covered the floor between the narrow run. It does have water in it, especially after a rain, but it was mostly dry when I went. Wisteria blossoms bloomed on the side. It was really neat.

Aiken - Aiken - Hitchcock Woods 17 Sand River flowers

On my trip I also visited Cathedral Aisle, the closest entrance to which is off Dibble Rd. I’d seen a postcard of it and it looked pretty. It’s a bit of a walk from the parking area. Follow the signs and you can’t miss it. Massive trees line the wide dirt path. While I may not have gone when it’s at its prettiest, I still found it impressing.

The park is open daily and is free.

How to Get There:

There are several entrances to Hitchcock Woods. Best go to the website and print out the map and go from there. Pick what you want to see or hike and find the appropriate parking area.

Links:

www.hitchcockwoods.org

What’s Close By:

Downtown Aiken

Aiken Historical Museum

Hopeland Gardens

North Augusta

River Front Park and Historic Columbia Canal

Richland - Columbia - River Front Park by museum 01

Located along the Congaree and Broad River is a greenway perfect for walking and jogging. Although damaged by the 2015 October flood, most, if not all, is open again. The park opened in 1983 and is a nice place to bring guests of out of town. I’ve done that several times and my visitors have always enjoyed the walk. It’s wheelchair accessible, but there is a bit of a slope from the parking lot to the path.

The 167 acre park separates the Congaree River from the Historic Columbia canal. Here is where the first waterworks for Columbia was located, the site of the world’s first textile mile to be powered by electricity.

Richland - Columbia - Riverfront Park - trail

From the two and a half mile trail one has great views of the Congaree and the confluence of the Broad and Saluda River that make up the Congaree River. You can walk through one of the pump houses of the waterworks. The hydroelectric plant, by the way, is the oldest one in the state and still operating.

The Columbia canal is one of several canals built by the state in 1824 to provide access to settlements in the upstate. Indentured Irishmen worked on this.

How to get there

312 Laurel Street (At the end of Laurel St. Behind the AT&T office off Huger St.)

Once can also access it by the State Museum and EdVenture on Gervais near the Gervais Street Bridge

Links

http://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/565

http://riveralliance.org/

What’s close by:

Historic Downtown Columbia

State House

various parks in Columbia

University of South Carolina

State Museum and EdVenture

Greenville: Mice On Main

Ordinarily most people don’t go out of their way to look for mice, but finding mice in Greenville is a fun activity whoever you are, adult or child. I first heard about it at a convention, but didn’t get a chance to investigate. Then, when my sister and nephew flew in at the Greenville airport, I decided to get an early in order to have time and hunt. It was a cold, winter day, and overcast so I bundled up. Luck landed me a convenient parking space downtown (don’t worry there are plenty). My first stop was at Mast General Store for the clue sheet. One can be printed from the official website, but I needed an excuse to visit the store and buy weird candy.
Paper in hand, I began my search, puzzling out clues such as: Mifflin’s husband, Uncle Miles, loves to eat Italian. He’s by the rain spout. If you’ve found him, give a shout! Mifflin and Miles are names of two of the mice.
The idea of planting nine mice on Main Street came from a high school student who was inspired to do his senior project by the book Goodnight Moon. Jim Ryan proposed the idea and waded through all the red tape in order to make his idea reality. Now the mice are hidden along a five-bock stretch. They were sculpted by the artist Zan Wells who is also from Greenville. Each of the bronze mice has it’s own special personality.
One can also purchase a book, game, or t-shirt. The proceeds go to charities in the Greenville area.

How to get there:
The mice are on Main Street on a five-block stretch near the Hiatt Hotel.

Links
Mice on Main

What’s close by:
Reedy River Falls Park
Greenville Zoo
Lake Conastee Nature Park

Town Clocks

Aiken - Aiken - Laurens St 03 town clock - Copy

Drive through a town in South Carolina and chances are you’ll see a town clock. It may be on a building or, most likely, a clock mounted on a post and pedestal (called a street or post clock). I don’t know what about them caught my attention, but on my drives and walks around towns I started noticing them more and more to the point that if I see one, I take a picture. While many of the post town clocks look the same there are little differences and it’s fun to see how many different types exist. In Barnwell there’s even a sun dial town clock. I don’t have a picture of that yet, but one day.

Lancaster - Kershaw - Town Clock 03 detail - Copy

With watches and being able to check one’s cell phone for the time, the need for a town clock has lessened, but until about the middle of the 1900’s people relied on these town clocks for the time. They were set in the center of town and usually put on the highest structure so they could be seen, or heard for blocks around.

The clocks I’ve seen are in the center of the downtown areas although many aren’t on the highest structure anymore. One that is, is the Winnsboro’s town clock. This is the longest continuously running clock in the U.S. and has been running for over 100 years.

Fairfield - Winnsboro - 01 Town Clock Christmas - Copy

Link

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/sc-town-clocks/

Ridgeway

Fairfield - Ridgeway - 02 old Police Station

Ridgeway’s Smallest Police Station in the World prompted me to make the trip to this small town in Fairfield county. Of course, the police have moved on to another, larger, location, but the first building remains and is used as a visitor center. While not manned, at least when I visited, it did offer brochures including a coveted, for me, Walking Tour guide. The brochure makes a walk around a town much more enjoyable because you know what you’re looking at. I must commend the people who made the brochure as it is easy to read and informative.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been in Ridgeway. The ‘Big Grab’, an annual forty-odd mile garage sale route runs through here and I’ve stopped to peruse the booths. This time, however, I had my camera and meant to see the sights with no distractions.
One can easily walk through the town. Historic downtown runs along Palmer Street/US21, and then over to Dogwood Ave/SC Highway 34. Some sites you may want to drive to such as St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the Vaughan/Blair Stagecoach Inn.
Ridgeway was originally called New Town. It changed its name after the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad came by and chose a route for their railroad tracks along the ‘ridge way’.
One place I would have liked to have more information on was the doorway at the park. It’s located in the park on Longtown Rd and turns out to be remains of a school. It’s very interesting and a great place to take a picture. A fun picture is at the phone booth. Kids will like that. They may have never even seen one before.
By-the-way, Ridgeway isn’t the only town boasting a teeny, former police station, Olar in Bamberg county has one too.

How to get there:
Ridgeway is located on US21, on the east side of I-77.

Links:
Ridgeway

What’s Close By
Wateree State Park
Winnsboro
Great Falls

Greenville – Downtown

Greenville - Greenville - Main St ice rink

I’ve been fortunate to have been able to visit Greenville several years in a row. I attended a conference there and always tried to squeeze in time to sightsee on the last day before heading on home. I had an opportunity to visit downtown further on the day I picked up my sister at the airport. It was cold that day and overcast, but still a good visit.
The city of Greenville sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown area several unique features such as a waterfall and a pedestrian bridge, the Liberty Bridge. Both times when I visited in took in the Reedy River Greenway. I’ll go more indepth on that in a later post as it deserves to be highlighted. The second time I visited, I searched for the Mice on Main, small mice statues hidden in plain view. Definitely a game for the kids, but fun for adults too.
Long ago the Cherokee hunted this area. It was once a forbidden place for white settlers. One married a Cherokee woman and got 100,000 acres. On this land he established a plantation on the Reedy River in what’s now downtown Greenville.
Another settler started a village, one he called Pleasantburg. One of its new citizens, Vardry McBee, is considered to be the father of Greenville. Later in life he donated land on which churches, schools, and more were built upon. He and other local leaders funded a railroad, the Greenville and Columbia Railroad.
Greenville continues to be a bustling place with its revitalized downtown. There is the Falls Park on the Reedy and there are numerous pieces of art along Main Street honoring Greenville’s history. Many old building have been renovated and their character maintained while utilized in different ways. I enjoyed all the statues, besides those of the mice. Look for all the works of art and architecture. Some of the buildings like the Markley Carriage Factory Paint Shop and the Huguenot Mill are listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings.

How to get there:
Greenville is on I85 and I526

Links:
http://www.visitgreenvillesc.com/
http://www.greenvillesc.gov/392/Free-Things-to-Do

What’s Close By:
Plenty including several state parks.