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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Columbia Commercial Historic District
Reference Number 14000875
State South Carolina
County Richland
Town Columbia
Street Address Portions of Main St., Blanding St., Taylor St., and Sumter St.
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 10/20/2014
Areas of Significance Commerce, Architecture
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The Columbia Commercial Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places at the local level of significance under Criterion A for commerce and under Criterion C for architecture. The assemblage of buildings north of the State House within the 1500, 1600, and 1700 blocks of Main Street and its cross-streets reflect the significance of the Main Street corridor as a commercial center and represent the densest concentration of buildings with integrity from Main Street's height as one of Columbia's central business districts. This collection of buildings illustrates broad patterns in Columbia's social history, including the transformation from locally-owned specialty stores and dry goods stores to national chains, five and dime stores, and department stores. These shops were a social and economic center for Columbia from the end of the Civil War until the Civil Rights Movement. The popular national chain stores on Main Street were not only the city's main shopping destinations, but their lunch counters were also the site of student sit-ins and racial integration in the early 1960s precisely because these commercial spaces were viewed as a modern-day public square. The selected blocks included in this nomination represent the best surviving and densest commercial streetscapes on Main Street, and they include many architectural styles that are no longer found elsewhere in the city, such as Second Empire, Richardsonian Romanesque, Streamline Moderne, and Art Deco. The district also reflects the continuous and ongoing attempts of business owners to update their storefronts in order to stay conform to shifting architectural styles and meet the evolving expectations of their customers. Many of these remodeled storefronts were designed by prominent local architects or by nationally-known company architects. This portion of Main Street is a remarkable collection of former specialty shops, variety stores, department stores, banks, and housing. These buildings represent not only twentieth-century construction but also many mid-to-late nineteenth-century buildings that were adapted to remain relevant in changing times, especially by updating their facades. The period of significance (1865 to 1963) covers the construction date of the oldest buildings in the district up to the date of the last significant remodel to a contributing building in the district. It also begins with the rebuilding and commercial growth of the city immediately following the Civil War and concludes with the economic decline and racial integration of Main Street in 1963.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria