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Gibbes Machinery Company / Gibbes Volkswagen, Southwest Corner of Blossom & Assembly Streets: 1999   35 comments

Posted at 11:56 pm in business,historic,stores

Commenter Alaska Jill sends in these pictures of Gibbes, saying:

Gibbes Machinery: The sunlit pictures were taken, I believe, in 1998. I used to park at the Gibbes lot as a USC student and knew those buildings were probably not going to be around much longer. Demolition started not long after those photos were taken. One morning in early 1999, we had snow in Columbia. I was a graduate assistant at the journalism school at the time, and had brought my camera with me to get some pictures of Columbia in the snow. From the steps of the Coliseum, I caught a couple pictures of the demolition in progress. An additional picture is taken from the former Gibbes lot.

The old Gibbes space is directly across Blossom Street from the Coliseum -- I'll have to consult some old directories to get the actual address. Right now it's the location of USC's new-ish "wellness center", which frankly sounds like a boondoggle with no educational function to me, but back in the day, Gibbes was there as a representative of the old "manufacturing" look of the Vista area. I never had a clear idea of what the machinery side of the business did, but the car lot was the only Volkswagen dealer in the Columbia area.

After USC got this property, the dealership moved to Broad River Road, just west of the river and either went under or sold out to the current tenant, Wray Mazda Volkswagen.

Take a good look at the second picture above. In the background, you can see The Towers and also the mini-mall building (muraled "Gamecock Clothing") which once held Robo's video arcade, Pappy's and a number of other small, student-oriented businesses. It has since been torn down to put in the Adesso condos.

UPDATE 17 December 2011: The building I tag as the "mini-mall" was actually Addams University Bookstore a separate building in the same general area. See the comments.

(Hat tip to Alaska Jill)

Written by ted on December 14th, 2011

Tagged with , , ,

35 Responses to 'Gibbes Machinery Company / Gibbes Volkswagen, Southwest Corner of Blossom & Assembly Streets: 1999'

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  1. One of the "products" of the Gibbes Machinery Co. was forging manhole covers for nearby municipalities.

    Mike

    15 Dec 11 at 12:32 am

  2. Why wouldn't they just buy *real* manhole covers?

    *rimshot*

    Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week..

    ted

    15 Dec 11 at 1:26 am

  3. ...try the veal.

    I believe Gibbes was the Stdebaker-Packard distributor at one time.

    tonkatoy

    15 Dec 11 at 7:56 am

  4. While Gibbes was closed and awaiting demolition I tried hard to sneak in and get on of those big metal signs. It was the old company logo shaped like a big gear. They were probably 4 or 5 feet across and had open spaces cut through them. There were about 6 of them mounted on the brick that faced Assembly St. Wonder where they are?

    I wanted to get one for a friend who is a Gibbes descendant. Dig deep into Columbia history and the Gibbes name comes up a lot, notably for the engineer who crated Columbia's water system.

    Dennis

    15 Dec 11 at 5:29 pm

  5. ted

    15 Dec 11 at 5:39 pm

  6. Ted, the "Gamecock Clothing" was actually painted on the Addams University Bookstore building, not on the strip mall/arcade. It was a separate building, and was the best (or at least cheapest) bookstore for USC students. Bought many a textbook there in my undergrad days. It was demolished at the same time as the Pizza Hut, Brantley Meat Building, and the convenience store to make room for the Adesso development.

    59 Ford Wheelman

    15 Dec 11 at 5:52 pm

  7. Addams University Bookstore was a convenient stop on my treks to/from the Gibbes lot when I had classes at Gambrell Hall or Thomas Cooper. I used to buy textbooks there and still have many items I bought there, including disks for my iOmega Zip drive. (Heh. Just the fact I remember buying disks for a Zip drive makes me feel old.)

    Thanks to Ted for presenting these pictures, and for the nifty write-up - and to everyone who's posted comments. The pictures look even better than I imagined they would, and I'm happy to have brought back some memories for y'all.

    Alaska Jill

    15 Dec 11 at 6:26 pm

  8. I enjoyed looking at yor pictures of Gibbes. If you ever need information on the building or the history feel free to email me.

    Got a laugh when you mentioned the old GMC (Gibbes Machinery Company logs that were on the building. FYI they were poured in the foundry after it opened at the Blossom street location as that was the first building to be completed after the original Gibbes burned in 1912.

    Also FYI the address was 1920 Blossomed street but the actual front entry was was located on the Wheat Street side.

    LeConte Gibbes

    28 Dec 11 at 1:30 am

  9. Thanks! The pictures, of course, are Alaska Jill's.

    Feel free to add any comments that may occur to you!

    ted

    28 Dec 11 at 4:31 am

  10. This photo set from President Nixon's 1973 visit to Columbia includes a few pictures of interest to our discussion:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hdport/sets/72157617296421393/with/3479347547/

    For me, interesting not only to see how the corner of Blossom and Assembly looked back in the day, but I never knew that particular Presidential limousine (most remembered in its original configuration, and in a tragic context) made a visit to Columbia.

    Alaska Jill

    28 Dec 11 at 9:06 am

  11. If I remember correctly, the Limo that Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Reagan used, was the very same Limo that Kennedy was killed in.. I wouldnt have ridden in that car for a hundred dollars knowing what had happend in there. I also remember when Nixon came through Columbia back in 1969 to Heathwood when he visited former Govenor Byrnes at his house for his 90th birthday. I was going to Heathwood at the time and we had the day off for the event. It was a very big deal back then, and I have pics. I took of it also.

    Del

    28 Dec 11 at 1:22 pm

  12. Del: That was indeed the same car in which President Kennedy was assassinated. In late 1963, after it was released from the investigation, it was returned to Hess & Eisenhardt, completely rebuilt inside and out and armored, with the permanent top put on it (I believe the swing-open top panel seen in the pictures was put in at Nixon's request shortly after he took office). The story goes that after the rebuild it was repainted the same deep blue it wore in Dallas, but LBJ requested it be repainted black in memory of JFK, and would not ride in it until that was done.

    BTW, the car was leased to the Secret Service from Ford for a token amount each year, and upon its retirement in 1977 went to the Henry Ford Museum, where it's on display along with at least two other Presidential limousines.

    Sorry for going on like that. The X-100 has long fascinated me. :)

    Alaska Jill

    28 Dec 11 at 2:35 pm

  13. I understand and have heard that you can ride in the same style car with surround sound speakers from the airport in Dallas where Kennedy landed all the way through the parade route past the Texas School Book Depository (now a museaum) and when you get to the spot where the shots were fired, it sounds just like someone shooting at you.. Now THAT's a little too much. I was right at 5 years old when Kennedy was killed..but really dont remember much about it.

    Del

    28 Dec 11 at 4:11 pm

  14. Dennis the GMC gears were given to my uncle Mason Gibbes when the buildings were taken down. I have one of them on my back deck under glass and using it as a table.

    Who is the decendant as there may still be one or two floating around.

    LeConte Gibbes

    1 Jan 12 at 11:45 pm

  15. LeConte - she is a friend here in town named Carolyn Gibbes White. Her father Dr. Gibbes was a well known pediatrician. She lives in Dr. Gibbes' house that she and her husband moved from downtown to Trenholm Road. USC put a parking garage where it used to be.

    Dennis

    2 Jan 12 at 7:40 am

  16. Dennis that is Bobby Gibbes's daughter Hunter Gibbes' grand daughter. Tell her to check with her cousin dr Caroline Gibbes

    LeConte Gibbes

    4 Jan 12 at 11:25 pm

  17. I'm pretty sure my eye doctor back in the 80s was Caroline Gibbes. Same person? May have been Caroline LeConte...getting oldtimers disease, I guess.

    tonkatoy

    5 Jan 12 at 7:46 am

  18. HI LeConte Gibbes- any chance you know what was located on the site of the current Carolina Coliseum before it was the Coliseum? I thought since you have been able to answer questions regarding other places in downtown perhaps you or someone in your family would know. I'm curious what was on Greene St where they are digging now for the new USC Business School. thanks so much to you or anyone who might know.

    carolinacoliseumfan

    26 Jan 12 at 4:22 pm

  19. There were houses on the block surrounded by Assembly, Blossom, Park, and Devine. I think the next block to the north was also housing.

    Mike

    26 Jan 12 at 4:50 pm

  20. They had to take out ***another parking lot*** in favor of the new Darla Moore School of Business

    Andrew

    26 Jan 12 at 11:17 pm

  21. @ccf: You can find some great pictures of what was there before the Coliseum here:

    http://library.sc.edu/digital/collections/jwp/

    tonkatoy

    27 Jan 12 at 11:38 am

  22. To answer your question directly across the street was the Wagon Wheel diner. Going up Assembly Street where shot gun row houses same going up Park Street.

    LeConte Gibbes

    1 Apr 12 at 9:32 pm

  23. Hey LeConte, Didn't you own a business installing air conditioners in cars at a location on Main Street across from Jim Moore Caddy back in the late '70s? I worked in the same building installing radio's in cars with a couple of guy's named Jeff and Gene. I used to see one of the people that worked for you from time to time but now I can't remember his name.

    Rick

    10 Jul 12 at 12:02 pm

  24. I went with my parents in 1941 to Gibbes Machinery Company to buy a new Packard 110 (their cheapest). In 1941, Volkswagen was not well thought of, to say the least, and Studebaker had not arrived at Gibbes yet. I learned to drive in the Packard, and loved it, though it wouldn't start when the engine was wet.

    James Quattlebaum

    20 Aug 12 at 8:19 pm

  25. The Addams Bookstore and the 'mini-mall' you originally reference are one and the same building, just at different times. the mini-mall was there when I was a student, 1985 to 89, and it was most likely there earlier than that of course. In the early 90's Addams bought it and converted the whole mini-mall into just their store.

    Kevin Oliver

    5 Feb 13 at 8:18 pm

  26. Gibbs Macinery ws the Packar Dealer in Columbia for many, many years. I visited several time to admire a 1936 V12 Packard victoria convertable they had down stairs. It was a trade in that they kept all original. A fablous example of one of the great Packards of the 1930's

    Does any one know what became of it

    ROn N Elmore

    30 Mar 13 at 10:20 am

  27. Gibbs Macinery ws the Packar Dealer in Columbia for many, many years. I visited several time to admire a 1936 V12 Packard victoria convertable they had down stairs. It was a trade in that they kept all original. A fablous example of one of the great Packards of the 1930's

    Does any one know what became of it

    ROn N Elmore

    30 Mar 13 at 10:20 am

  28. Gibbes Machinery was, in fact, the Packard dealer in the Columbia area and well known by the Packard owners across the state. My Dad was a Packard guy and never owned anything other than Packards till 1965 when he bought a Lincoln Continental. He was on a first name basis with all of the mechanics, secretaries and management and took his cars there regularly for over 20 years. Around 1962-3, he got a call from Gibbes Machinery and told him he had from "next Friday thru the weekend to come in and remove all of the Packard inventory from their warehouse. They had taken on the VW line and were expecting inventory from Germany the following week. My dad, his brother and nephews and myself spent the next three days loading a rental truck with every imaginable part or accessory off the shelves. Time passes and dad passed away a few years back. Almost all of the Packard stuff, cars and parts was sold to various buyers though there is still a 52 restored Packard and a 47 Packard limosine that I am in the process of restoring. I drove that car in high school (1966) and later in college up until 1969. It had been parked in a metal building for over 40 years. Last week while going through a separate storage garage, I found a number of Packard hubcaps for 1936-1941 packards that still were in the original Packard wrappers. Sorry for the long diatribe but did visit the Gibbes Machinery facility numerous times while they were actively selling and servicing Packards.

    Bob Turner

    8 Jan 14 at 11:12 am

  29. Gibbes Machinery was, in fact, the Packard dealer in the Columbia area and well known by the Packard owners across the state. My Dad was a Packard guy and never owned anything other than Packards till 1965 when he bought a Lincoln Continental. He was on a first name basis with all of the mechanics, secretaries and management and took his cars there regularly for over 20 years. Around 1962-3, he got a call from Gibbes Machinery and told him he had from "next Friday thru the weekend to come in and remove all of the Packard inventory from their warehouse. They had taken on the VW line and were expecting inventory from Germany the following week. My dad, his brother and nephews and myself spent the next three days loading a rental truck with every imaginable part or accessory off the shelves. Time passes and dad passed away a few years back. Almost all of the Packard stuff, cars and parts was sold to various buyers though there is still a 52 restored Packard and a 47 Packard limosine that I am in the process of restoring. I drove that car in high school (1966) and later in college up until 1969. It had been parked in a metal building for over 40 years. Last week while going through a separate storage garage, I found a number of Packard hubcaps for 1936-1941 packards that still were in the original Packard wrappers. Sorry for the long diatribe but did visit the Gibbes Machinery facility numerous times while they were actively selling and servicing Packards.

    Bob Turner

    8 Jan 14 at 11:12 am

  30. Had to be 62 because my parents bought a 62 Bug from them.

    Since they had the Packard distributorship,, did they have the Studes, too?

    tonkatoy

    8 Jan 14 at 12:59 pm

  31. tonkatoy...
    Thanks for the clarification on 62. It may have even been a bit earlier but not by much. I was old enough to be of some help, 13 or 14 maybe. Interestingly, no Studebaker parts were in the inventory we removed and I remember the shelves being somewhat empty when we finished. So maybe the Stufebaker dealership had already been taken over in the late 50's after Packard had gone out of business.

    Bob Turner

    23 Jan 14 at 4:47 pm

  32. My Dad had a '59 Studebaker pickup and if I remember correctly that, even though Gibbes has the Packard dealership, Hampton Motors sold Stude's. This was before the days of Hampton Pontiac and they used to be a Dodge dealership as well. Dad also bought his '56 Dodge from Hampton.

    Homer

    24 Jan 14 at 12:06 am

  33. Before the old Coliseum was built, a rest

    Frank W

    8 Mar 14 at 12:10 am

  34. The restaurant on Blossom St across from the Gibbes Co. before the old Coliseum was built was The Hitching Post. Wickes Building Supply was on the Southwest corner of Park St and Blossom in the late 50s and early 60s. The Gibbes Co was bounded by Wheat St on the South, Assembly on the East. ParkSt on the West, and Blossom on the North. If I remember correctly, the address on Blossom was 1020 and on Wheat 1029.

    Frank W

    8 Mar 14 at 12:35 am

  35. Speaking of the Coliseum, it was my uncle that did the seats and seat arrangement inside the arena itself when it was built. The Coliseum was a big deal back when it was new. The Circus just isn't the same in the Colonial Life Arena. Does anyone remember the Clyde Beatty Circus when it was in a large tent at the fairgrounds back in the 60's?

    CayceKid

    10 Mar 14 at 12:04 am

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