Lula Drake wine parlor has brought a snazzy flair and a big buzz to Columbia’s Main Street in its first year of business.
Now, Lula Drake is about to take its signature class and vintage elegance upstairs to an intimate new event venue that will be Main Street’s latest renovation project.
“There’s such a lack of event space, and this one, especially, has character like I’ve never seen before,” said Tim Gardner, owner of Lula Drake and the soon-to-be venue.
Gardner plans to open the event space above Lula Drake in October.
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It’ll be called the Pastor’s Study at Lula Drake, an homage to the site’s one-time function as the off-campus pastor’s study for downtown’s Ebenezer Lutheran Church. The “pastor’s study” sign still graces a door that swings open to reveal four tremendous windows overlooking Main Street.
Until recently, it’s likely no one had set foot in the space since the 1940s, said Martha Fowler, who co-owns the building at 1635 Main. Her great-great-grandfather, John Seegers, built the place in 1870.
It appears it was last used as a storage space for a sporting goods store that was next door. They have found boxing gloves, basketball nets, leather straps and tennis rackets – with faded price tags still attached.
“It was just a treasure trove,” Fowler said.
The treasures of the Pastor’s Study also include heart-of-pine floors, furniture that likely belonged to Fowler’s great-grandmother and wallpaper that could be 100 years old, Fowler estimates. Gardner plans on incorporating as many of the space’s original elements as possible, including its exposed brick and wood-panel walls.
The Pastor’s Study will have a similar style to Lula Drake – sort of big city, throwback European.
“I think this place ... is more beautiful than Lula because you can just feel the good juju coming from here,” Gardner said.
Gardner envisions weddings, receptions, office parties and holiday events at the cozily tight-quartered venue. Lula Drake will offer catering from its kitchen, or guests can bring in outside catering, Gardner said.
He hopes to add on a rooftop patio eventually.
What’s happening above Lula Drake mirrors a number of other renovation projects happening on a flourishing Main Street these days.
A few doors down from Lula Drake, another building built by Fowler’s great-great-grandfather is being turned into a boutique bowling alley. Across the street, technology company Cyberwoven is upfitting a Depression-era building. On the corner of the same block, developer Scott Garvin is renovating the old Hennessy’s restaurant. And a few blocks toward the S.C. State House, the historic Arcade Mall is getting a face-lift and some new business tenants, including Pita Pit and Stoner’s Pizza.
“I think this is a perfect addition to what’s going on on Main Street,” Gardner said.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.