The Heart of Columbia Motel and Sportsman Restaurant
1011 Assembly AStreet Columbia S.C.
Conveniently located in downtown Columbia opposite the State Capital and near University S.C.
100 Spacious Air-Conditioned & Heated Rooms * Free T.V. * High-Fi Music * 24 Hour Phone * Swimming Pool * Ice * Baby Beds * American Express Honored.
Phone AL 2-3393
I'm not sure when the postcards were made. The second one is probably from the early 1960s given the "AL" exchange prefix on the phone number. I'm sure if I knew cars better, I could peg it closer by looking at them. Certainly it would seem that 24 Hour Phone was a motel novelty at the time..
Whatever the exact year, it would be hard to argue that Heart of Columbia did not then describe the location as well name the motel. It would be harder to say that by 1983 which is when the yellow-pages ad appeared in the USC phonebook, but ironically now that the motel is long gone, the area is once again prime, very much in the Vista neighboorhood.
The way I recall The Heart of Columbia when I was growing up, and by the time I left town in 1985, is as slightly seedy and down at the heels. I specifically remember than when a cousin of mine came to town for a teachers' conference at USC, and booked a room based on proximity, she was a little unsettled by what she found, and that my father told her he wished she had called ahead so he could have warned her that he didn't think a woman should stay there by herself.
According to The State archives, the place closed in 1994, but nonetheless had an interesting history thereafter.
FIrst of all the The Thailand Restaurant moved in, presumably to the old Sportsman location.
Then on 4 May 2004, the place caught fire:
FIRE PUTS FOCUS ON BUILDING'S FUTURE
RICK BRUNDRETT, Staff Writer
The downtown site of a restaurant and abandoned motel heavily damaged by fire early Tuesday likely will get new life, Mayor Bob Coble said.
"It is probably the most strategic piece of property for redevelopment in Columbia,"Coble said Tuesday. "I can't imagine it will stay an abandoned hotel."
Coble said the former Heart of Columbia Motel's close proximity to the convention center and center hotel, as well...
After that fire, The Thailand Restaurant moved to 6024 Saint Andrews Road.
Then the building was slated for demolition:
MOTEL'S DAYS NUMBERED
JOHN C. DRAKE, Staff Writer
Eight months after an errant cigarette set the building ablaze, the Heart of Columbia Motel's owners are positioning the building for demolition.
At the same time, they are facing pressure from the city to address long-standing property code violations at the condemned building.
The 40-year-old motel, which has been closed since 1994, is now a boarded-up eyesore just across Assembly Street from the State House. It was declared unsafe and condemned May 5, one day after...
Then the place caught on fire a second time:
ABANDONED DOWNTOWN MOTEL BURNS AGAIN
ADAM BEAM, Staff Writer
Assembly Street building was to be torn down Monday; fire inspector suspects arson
Fire officials say arsonists set fire Wednesday afternoon to an abandoned building on Assembly Street- the second time the building has burned and just five days before it was scheduled to be torn down.
A fire investigator said there was nothing in the building to burn, and something helped "accelerate"the fire, most likely some type of liquid fuel.
Deputy Fire Chief...
NO SUSPECTS IN MOTEL ARSON
Fire officials had no suspects in the arson at the Heart of Columbia motel on Assembly Street, and investigators said they might never know what type of fuel was used to burn it.
Lowell Bernstein, a Columbia lawyer whose family owns the building, said his family had already paid for the demolition and had no insurance on the building except liability.
He said the lot will be a parking lot for at least a few months while his family decides what to do with the property.
Then the place burned a third time:
DOWNTOWN MOTEL BURNS FOR THIRD TIME
ALLYSON BIRD, Staff Writer
The condemned Heart of Columbia Motel, which caught fire earlier this month and in May 2004, burned again Sunday morning.
Deputy Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said 25 firefighters responded to the fire at 8:39 a.m. at Assembly and Pendleton streets after receiving a call from the Columbia Police Department.
"We're going to treat it as an arson because there was no apparent reason for it to catch on fire,"Jenkins said. The building no longer has...
Finally it was torn down, slowly:
ASBESTOS ISSUE SLOWS MOTEL DEMOLITION
RICK BRUNDRETT, Staff Writer
Demolition of the old Heart of Columbia Motel- the site of three fires since last year - has taken longer than expected because of asbestos removal, a spokesman for the property owners said.
Crews began knocking down the building's front facade Monday, a day after the third fire.
Lowell Bernstein, a lawyer whose family owns the building at Assembly and Pendleton streets near the State House, said opening up the building could stop vagrants from taking shelter there -...
As the building was demolished, The State noted a bit of music history I was unaware of:
TEARING OUT OUR ROCK 'N'ROLL HEART
The demolition of the Heart of Columbia Motel is taking away a piece of the city's rock 'n'roll history.
A photo of the motel's sign is on the CD jacket of Hootie &the Blowfish's breakthrough 1994 album, "Cracked Rear View,"which has sold more than 16 million copies. Other Columbia landmarks such as the State House also are pictured.
The motel stood 40 years on Assembly Street in...
(You can see the album picture here: Cracked Rear View)
I'm pretty sure this was the swimming pool seen in the postcards above. I say that based on it being a hole in the ground
and having bits of blue tile mixed in with the debris:
Here is the modern day view towards the Capitol as seen in the post cards:
AND FINALLY, the Heart Of wasn't strictly a Columbia operation. I believe it was part of a loose chain. I know I have seen a number of Heart Ofs over the years, though I can no longer say where. However The Heart of Dillon is still in ongoing operation:
UPDATE 29 July 2010: Commenter Dennis sends the following document indicating that there was an annual General Assembly pool party at HOC into the late 1980s..
"The following was received.
May 26, 1987
The Honorable Samuel R. Foster, Chairman
House Invitations Committee
520 Blatt Office Building
Columbia, S.C. 29201
Dear Mr. Foster:
Gene and Joyce Stoddard cordially invite members of the House and
Senate, clerks and attached to the annual pool party at the Heart of
Columbia Motel, Wednesday, June 3, 6:30 P.M.
I appreciate you conveying this to the membership of the House.
Eugene C. Stoddard
On motion of Rep. FOSTER, with unanimous consent, the invitation was
taken up for immediate consideration and accepted."