The time came when we, as every family does eventually, needed the services of a funeral home. Obviously it is a sad and painful experience. I can only say that I was impressed by the professionalism of the Dunbar staff as they took care of details I never would have thought of.
I knew they were emphasizing their Devine Street Chapel, but I had not realized that they had actually closed the Gervais Street location until I drove by recently and saw that the main sign was no longer on the property, and that parts of it were looking a bit overgrown.
I was a bit concerned since, despite the memories associated with it, the old house with its attached carraige-house is a Columbia landmark and a bit of stateliness on a more or less characterless commercial artery. It appears though that the house is on the historic register, and will be preserved as the USC Children's Law Center:
Proposed Whaley House Purchase:
Mr. Parham reported that the Childrens Law Center was established by the USC School of Law in 1995 to serve as a training and resource center for family court workers and attorneys who participated in legal proceedings involving children. The Center taught courses at the Law School, provided Continuing Legal Education and legal research for attorneys and judges, trained guardian ad litems and state agency case workers, and performed research-based juvenile justice programs. Currently, the Center provided more than 225 training programs and professional meetings annually to more than 5,000 professionals who protected, served and represented children in family courts. The Center was currently located on the 5th floor of 1600 Hampton Street where it had no on-site training or meeting space.
For that reason, Harry Davis, Director of the Childrens Law Center, with the approval of Dean Jack Pratt and President Sorensen, was seeking approval from the Executive Committee to enter into a Contract of Sale to purchase the property located at 1527 Gervais Street as the new home for the Childrens Law Center. This property was located directly across Gervais Street from the proposed site of the new law school. It consisted of approximately 1.25 acres, and contained 2 structures: the Whaley House (8,012 square feet), and an adjacent Carriage House (5,140 square feet). There were also 70 parking spaces on the property. Mr. Parham stated that the Dunbar Funeral Home had occupied this property for many years and the property was owned by Stewart Enterprises, Inc.
Mr. Whittle asked if the building was on the National Registry of Historic Places, and if so, will it require any special maintenance and upkeep and/or will it limit the usage in the future as to how the property can be used? Mr. Harry Davis, Director of the Children Law Center, responded that the building was on the historic register. The University had several discussions with the Columbia Historic Foundation and discussions with the architects and engineers. And, it was his understanding that the University would not be permitted to alter the exterior of the building without permission of the Columbia Historic Foundation. However, interior renovations could be made as the University might desire. The USC engineer had also looked at the building in a preliminary examination and stated that it appeared to be a sound structure.
I didn't try to peer and take pictures through the windows as I often do out of a feeling of respect. It did seem that lights were still on inside, and the AC unit was running. However, USC doesn't seem to have been in any hurry to make the actual Law Center move, and the lack of maintainence and painting is quite visible on some of the woodwork as well as the lawn being unmown in some areas. I hope they step up to the plate soon.
UPDATE 29 September 2012 -- As mentioned by commenter Matt, some sort of extensive work is being done on the place now:
UPDATE 19 October 2012 -- Apparently the place is being painted yellow. This seems to be a very gradual process where first a section is repaired and made ship-shape and then is painted: