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.
America, Made out of Many
The Fourth of July is the perfect time not only to celebrate but also to reflect on what makes us American. We’re a unique people – to say the least – and among the best of our traits is that we’re a diverse people represented by the familiar but too often forgotten motto, “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.Read More
5 Reasons to Love a Land Trust
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Celebrating 10 Years in the Real Southern Hot Spot
The heart of any city is its downtown, where restaurants, boutiques, lawyers, hair salons, theaters, and many more enjoy the bustling hum of commerce. On May 25, 2011, Main Street welcomed an unconventional new retailer to its growing chorus of Downtown Columbia institutions when the Mast General Store opened its doors.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.