Columbia has seen a lot - from the earliest days of the United States to the present day. It's been on the cutting edge and just behind the leaders in a number of instances.
Take a look at Columbia's wide thoroughfares. Contrary to what you might think, they are not a recent development but were actually planned for in the 1700s. That's right! Columbia is the nation's second planned city, right behind New Haven, CT, and was established as the state's new capital in 1786. In a vote of 11-7, the name Columbia, the United States' female personage, was chosen over Washington.
The grid for the city was set up with 400 blocks in a two-mile square near the river. The perimeter streets were 150 feet wide and the remaining streets were 100 feet wide. Those are not arbitrary numbers, but were based upon the belief that mosquitos could not travel more than 60 feet without having a little snack.
Columbia is the site of the world's first fully-electrified textile mill. Cotton made the South the natural location for textile mills, and the Columbia Mills Building, which opened in 1894 and now houses the South Carolina State Museum, was fully powered by electricity from day one. That makes the building itself the Museum's largest artifact.
Few of the city's buildings date back before 1865. Much of the city was burned by General Sherman during the Civil War, except, ironically, the First Baptist Church where the State's Order of Secession was drafted and approved.
The building that now houses the Mast Store was constructed in the 1870s during the Reconstruction Era. It's housed many different businesses over the course of time – including an undertaker's parlor, a bar, and two City of Columbia retail destinations – Efird's and Lourie's. Each served the people of the Midlands for over 40 years each.
We Arrived on April 30, 1980
On a cool spring day in 1980, April 30 to be exact, a young family arrived in the mountains of North Carolina. After a long drive from Florida in a UHaul and a pickup truck, they were about to begin their lives' work in an old general store. In this short video blog, you'll hear what their first impressions were ... in Faye's own words.Read More
Boredom Buster #3
Who's ready for another diversion or two? By now, our new routines are, well, routine. Get up, make coffee, fix breakfast, send the students to school in one corner of the living room and set up the office on the kitchen table. We don't know about you, but it sure is hard to get the 250 steps per hour now because the coffee pot is a lot closer (and so is the restroom). This week's Boredom Busters will revisit a skill that many of us have let slip in the days of GPS (but it's still important), offer up a few podcasts for your enjoyment, and send a jigsaw puzzle or two your way.Read More
Grab a Bite at the Store
Back 40 years ago, you couldn't grab a bite to eat in the Valle. It meant a drive to Boone or to Banner Elk or to Mountain City over in Tennessee. That is until John and Faye Cooper decided to open the Mast Store Deli. Sandwiches and soups were served in the back of the store. Here's a little of that story, including a bit of it in Faye's own words.Read More
The location of the Mast Store in Columbia has a long retail history to live up to! The building itself is a product of the Reconstruction era...we bet you know why. In the early days, it housed several different businesses for various lengths of time; however, the majority of the building's history beginning in the early 1900s is shared by two businesses that called it home for over 40 years each.
*Photo courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.