In Defense of Mid-Century Modern – Columbia Star

Lois Carlisle, Historic Columbia

James F. Byrnes International Center James F. Byrnes Worldwide Heart On the nook of Pickens and Gervais streets in downtown Columbia, there stands a Queen Anne mansion. The house is uniquely Victorian with a excessive turret and cedar shingled roofline. There are few folks in Columbia who, in the present day, would say the home is something brief of stunning.

For those who had been to leap again in time to 1917 to that very same avenue nook, the block can be full of different Victorian houses. As tastes modified and the world started to embrace rising applied sciences, these houses fell out of vogue and got here to be seen as “cheesy.” Consequently, the residents of Columbia demolished these buildings.

Think about if we tore down each constructing that fell out of vogue, the constructed panorama would extra carefully resemble an Etch-a-Sketch than a metropolis. There's a tendency to protect solely the “greatest” examples of an architectural fashion or interval.

Distinctive buildings deserve reward and recognition, sure, however so do commonplace buildings. Preserving the nook retailer or bus station provides us a greater concept of the previous’s continuity. Preservation supplies us with a tangible hyperlink to our previous.

Just lately, the Columbia Metropolis Planning Fee voted to approve a plan for the eight blocks of Primary Road south of the State Home. Whereas the general plan is excellent, it portrays the demolition of a number of Mid-Century properties, which can be eligible for itemizing on the Nationwide Register of Historic


The Mid- Century was Columbia’s second. It stepped out from underneath the shadow of the Civil Conflict and right into a quickly-altering world. Town’s attentions turned to modernization— to catching up with the remaining of the nation.

Different main Southern hubs ( Atlanta and Raleigh, for example) started to assemble fashionable authorities workplaces, increased training services, houses, and resorts.

When it was in-built 1949, Cornell Arms, on the nook of Senate and Pendleton streets, was the tallest constructing between Richmond and Orlando. Folks took discover of this— they prized the residences as being the best, most technically and spatially modern within the metropolis.

Simply down the road from Cornell is the James F. Byrnes Worldwide Heart.

In-built 1967, Byrnes initially housed federal authorities workplaces for the area. It was with this constructing that the federal government selected to signify itself. Gone had been the looming columns and darkish doorways. As an alternative, Byrnes’s foyer is made of glass. It’s actually a clear authorities constructing.

There was nothing else prefer it in Columbia. Nowhere else might you peer by way of glass and see authorities officers going about their every day lives—you possibly can see your tax in movement.

The buildings on South Primary encapsulate what it meant to be alive throughout a tumultuous, quickly altering level in historical past. If we lose our Mid-Century panorama, we start to neglect the previous. We run the danger of destroying the important material of Columbia, simply as they did to the Queen Anne houses in 1917. It's extra essential than ever earlier than to preserve the historical past of our capital metropolis.

To study extra about Mid- Century Modern structure in Columbia and to get entangled in preservation efforts, go to

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In Defense of Mid-Century Modern - Columbia Star