I'm pretty sure this Park Street structure, in the first block south of Gervais Street, was a rescue practice tower for the Columbia Fire Department.
The original signage has been stripped from the stone, but after trying a few random things in gimp, I got this transform where you can almost read the letters:
I'm pretty sure it says "Columbia Drill Tower", but the first 'L' looks different from the second 'L' for some reason.
At any rate, if it's not a Fire Department burning building rescue mock up, I can't think what it possibly could be.
The structure is obviously not used now. I wonder if it just got too out of date? There are not a whole lot of buildings with fire escapes around anymore to rescue people from.
UPDATE 4 February 2012: Apparently the plan to repurpose the old firestation to which this tower belonged is not going well.
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