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From breweries to bowling alleys, Columbia's coolest old buildings getting new life

Look inside brewery at Curtiss-Wright Hangar

Kevin Varner who owns Hunter-Gatherer is brewing beer and preparing to open his brewery in the renovated Curtiss-Wright Hangar at the Owens Field airport in Columbia
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Kevin Varner who owns Hunter-Gatherer is brewing beer and preparing to open his brewery in the renovated Curtiss-Wright Hangar at the Owens Field airport in Columbia

On many levels, 2017 was a golden year for historic preservation in Columbia, from Main Street's renaissance to BullStreet's redevelopment to the decades-in-the making renovation of the historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar at Owens Field.

This year's recipients of Historic Columbia's Preservation Awards represent a milestone in the Capital City's effort to repurpose the past, said foundation Executive Director Robin Waites.

"The quality and number of awards presented this year show the progress we’ve made as a community when it comes to preservation and adaptive use of historic buildings," she said.

Waites said property owners and developers are taking on more challenging buildings that have been long-dormant — like the airport hangar and the 1600 block of Main Street — because they better understand the tools and incentives in place to make the projects financially successful.

"Developers are also responding to the interest from local businesses who want to make their homes in these unique, cool places," she said. "I think this year, the awards show that our understanding of and appreciation for historic places is evolving in a really positive way. Years of work has led to this."

The awards, presented Thursday, are intended to encourage and promote the importance of local preservation.

Adaptive Use Awards:

Curtiss-Wright Hangar, 1402 Jim Hamilton Blvd.

Hangar Owner LLC (Will Brennan, Robert Lewis, Scott Linaberry and Chris Rogers), Brennan Design, Buchanan Construction

Built in 1929, the hangar is one of the few unmodified examples of a Glenn Curtiss/Wright Brothers-designed hangar in the United States. During its early years, the building hosted not only air shows, but celebrities such as Amelia Earhart and President Franklin Roosevelt.

It is now home to Hunter-Gatherer Brewery.

Indah Coffee, 2238 Sumter St.

Owner Cason Development Group, Seed Architecture, Montgomery Construction Co.

The building was home to Dunn Electric in the early 1940s in Cottontown. The building now houses Indah Coffee’s first brick-and-mortar store as well as Circa Barber Shop.

The Grand restaurant and boutique bowling alley is located on one of the most active blocks in downtown Columbia.

The Grand, 1621 Main St.

Owner G. Scott Middleton, Lambert Architecture, Mashburn Construction

From a grocery store to retail shops to Columbia’s leading Vaudeville house, the Robinson Building has undergone multiple transformations since its construction in 1866.

It is now home to The Grand, a boutique bowling alley and luxury apartments upstairs.

Studio 2LR, 2428 Main St.

Owner Noma Properties (Gretchen Lambert), architect Studio 2LR, Buchanan Construction

The former Wilson Upholstery Building now houses the offices of Studio 2LR, an architecture and interiors firm.

Painted signage from the days of Wilson Upholstery was maintained on the exterior of the building as a nod to the past.

The Parker Annex

Owner Diversified Development, Architect Studio 2LR (Gretchen Lambert), Hood Construction (exterior), Buchanan Construction (interior)

Built around 1910 as overflow housing for the S.C. State Hospital, the Parker Annex is the last remaining building on the Bull Street campus built exclusively for African-American patients.

The building now houses the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Heritage Trust Program.

Three brothers to open new wine bar in location downtown once occupied by a saloon.

Lula Drake, 1622-35 Main St.

Owners CLM Properties (Martha Fowler, Robert Lewis, Katie Fowler Monoc, Jeff Prioreschi, Tom Prioreschi and Chris Rogers), Charlie Baker Contractor, Blackstone Construction (Don Blackstone)

Built in the aftermath of the Civil War, John C. Seegers’ and Christopher C. Habenicht’s saloon and brewery opened in late 1865. In 2015, CLM Properties bought the property, returning it to the family of its original owners. Based on a family photo, the owners, working with the architect and the city of Columbia’s Preservation office, carefully rehabilitated the facade to its original 19th century appearance.

Today, the narrow, Italianate-style building houses Lula Drake Wine Parlour, Pilates Bodies By Victoria and the Pastor’s Study.

For a full list of winners, go to