Rantin: Historic Columbia presents Preservation Awards

Historic Columbia Foundation recently celebrated the successes of several architectural, construction and rehabilitation projects when it presented its annual Preservation Awards.

The foundation for years has recognized local projects that maintain or add to the historical, architectural and cultural heritage in Columbia and Richland County. This year’s landmarks were formally recognized during an awards luncheon earlier this month.

“Preservation is the pillar upon which Historic Columbia was founded,” said Robin Waites, Historic Columbia executive director. “The projects we honor this year reveal a real interest in sustainability, creative design and sensitivity to the small and large features that make our community unique.”

The Preservation Awards were presented in several categories including Preservation Leadership, Preservation/Restoration, New Construction in a Historic Context and Adaptive Use.

First Citizens received this year’s Preservation Leadership Award. The award recognizes an individual, governmental agency and/or community or neighborhood association that has contributed to the advancement of historic preservation in the region.

First Citizens is credited for having a major impact on the development of Main Street in Columbia since moving to its corporate headquarters in 2006.

“From its visually-dynamic, post-modern headquarters to its sensitive rehabilitations of surrounding historic buildings, First Citizens has proven pivotal in anchoring activity on this downtown thoroughfare and has made a remarkable impact on preservation in our community,” said Historic Preservation Committee member Robert Lewis.

The Brennen Building (1200 block of Main Street) received a Preservation/Restoration Award. The award recognizes projects of historical significance that have been restored to their original design. The building is owned by First Citizens Bank.

“The Brennen Building’s use marks a continuation of hospitality and service that generations of Columbians know and love about this building, and thanks to First Citizens, that legacy is preserved for generations to come, ” Waites said.

Council Chambers at City Hall (1737 Main St.) also received a Preservation/Restoration Award.

The restoration of the third floor council chambers in City Hall began as a small project intended to repair historic plaster and paint. As Columbia staff members removed ceiling tiles, they uncovered a long-hidden skylight, prompting City Council to increase the project’s scope. The final restoration would include new lighting, a new audio/visual system and restoration of the historic skylight.

The City of Columbia owns the building.

The Booker T. Washington Auditorium (at 1400 Wheat St.) received a Preservation/Restoration Award as well as a New Construction in an Historic Context Award: The new construction in a historic context category includes new buildings that have been placed in a historic district or adjacent to historic structures that complement the historic context.

Penn Contracting and the Boudreaux Group worked with the University of South Carolina, the Booker T. Washington Foundation, Bobby Donaldson and Ashley Bouknight to restore and revitalize the only remaining building of the historic African American Booker T. Washington High School. On the exterior, workers stripped layers of paint, exposing the classic red brick of the original 1956 construction.

The University of South Carolina owns the building.

Seegers-Habenicht Building (1631 Main St.) received an Adaptive Use Award. The category includes projects of rehabilitation that incorporate new elements while allowing the original structure to be used in a new way.

The building, which now houses Mad Monkey, was constructed shortly after the fire of 1865 and is one of the oldest structures on Main Street.

Owner Martha Fowler was committed to the sensitive rehabilitation of the building that has been in her family since it was constructed. As the building had undergone many renovations during its nearly 150 years, Fowler agreed to replicate a façade with a recessed entryway like the one it had during the 1930s.

Reeder House (1328 Gadsden St.) received the Adaptive Use Award. The category includes projects of rehabilitation that incorporate new elements while allowing the original structure to be used in a new way.

The Columbia Cottage-style structure, which was a residence, is believed to have been built during the 1860s.

When Zion Baptist Church acquired the property in the Vista, the structure needed significant repairs. The church has since stabilized the building’s exterior and masonry piers. Additionally, the original wooden siding has been salvaged where possible and replaced as needed, and the façade has been returned to its original window configuration.