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Archive for the ‘Blossom Street’ tag

Jasmine Deli & Cafe, 601 Main Street: January 2013   no comments

Posted at 1:34 am in Uncategorized





Jasmine Deli & Cafe was the follow-on operation to Baker Brothers American Deli in the Addesso building at the corner of Main and Blossom. I'm unsure if it was connected with the Jasmine Buffet on Two Notch or not.

At any rate, they have moved out and Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint is moving in.

Written by ted on January 25th, 2013

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Master Clearners & Laundry, 1907 & 1908 Blossom Street: October 2012   3 comments

Posted at 12:27 am in closing



Here is another Master Cleaners location. This one is rather interesting because it comprises two buildings on either side of Blossom Street. The odd location is the drop-off point, and the even location is the actual cleaning, storage and pick-up point. I suppose I have driven past this spot at least once a week for the past decade or so without noticing this!

Currently, it being Five Points, the drop off location has quickly become a de-facto free-parking lot.

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Written by ted on October 31st, 2012

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The George Rogers Mural Experience / Booker T. Washington School, Blossom Street: 1990s   30 comments

Posted at 12:22 am in closing

Today's pictures come from commenter Alaska Jill, who says:

Booker T. Washington School/George Rogers Mural: I knew I'd best get
pictures of those while I could, too. These were taken on a chilly
Sunday afternoon in February 1999. The mural of George Rogers was a
Blossom Street landmark and could not be missed.

George Rogers and I were at Carolina together, though to the best of my knowledge, we never crossed paths. What I remember though, is that his winning the Heisman Trophy in 1980 was a big deal. A *really* big deal. Quite possibly a deal that was visible from earth orbit, and influenced local gravitational fields..

It was also somewhat of a surprise. I clearly recall that in the run-up to the award announcement, the Daily Gamecock ran an editorial under the head By George, He hasn't got a chance! enumerating all the reasons why it wasn't going to happen. Not being a sports fan myself, I recall the campus events around John Lennon's death that same year more clearly, but I was certainly aware big events were afoot!

I'm not sure when the murals went up, but they were, as Jill says, landmarks for many years. (The road near the stadium and fairgrounds was renamed for Rogers in the same period). I have the vague memory that the Booker T. Washington building itself was at one time a public high school before the property was taken over by USC. I think both the mural and the building came down while I was living out of town, or at least I have no memory of what happened. Today I can't exactly match where it was on Blossom with what's there now...

George Rogers played pro ball until 1987, and is now retired. Wikipedia doesn't really say anything about him after that. It would not surprise me if he had a car dealership or a real estate business somewhere.

(Thanks to Alaska Jill).

UPDATE 18 July 2018 -- Here are some more pictures from commenter JHT who says

You can see this was taken before he was even drafted into the NFL as it is blank.




Written by ted on March 24th, 2012

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Gibbes Machinery Company / Gibbes Volkswagen, Southwest Corner of Blossom & Assembly Streets: 1999   42 comments

Posted at 11:56 pm in Uncategorized

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

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American Apparel, 610 Harden Street: Early Feb 2011   13 comments

Posted at 9:40 pm in Uncategorized

American Apparel was a clothes store on Harden Street, next to the old Hiller Hardware. I gather that it served the young, hip, crowd, which is, um, not me.

In fact, for years, I didn't even know where the store was, just that it had a series of mildly risque ads on the back page of the local alternative weekly, The Free Times. These were constant fodder for the paper's Rant & Rave feature, as here, for instance.

When I went by on Saturday 5 Feb, there was still music playing from the store's door speakers, and two guys hanging around like they were supposed to be loading stuff out of there but couldn't get inside.

Doing a little googling turns of the surprising (to me) fact that American Apparel (AMEX: APP) is the largest clothing manufacturer in the United States.. They also seem to have had a good bit of financial trouble in their retail arm lately, as detailed in this WSJ piece and this "Open Market" piece (which also has an image of an ad they could never have run in Columbia..)

The company's web site goes even farther with ads -- DEFINITELY NSFW!

(Hat tip to commenter Jennifer)

UPDATE 12 September 2011 -- The follow-on operation, Urban Thread & More is open, and apparently has been at least since 16 April 2011:

Written by ted on February 6th, 2011

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Baker Bros American Deli, 601 Main Street Suite A: Spring 2010   10 comments

Posted at 11:31 pm in closing

According to this press release Baker Brothers American Deli came to South Carolina on 29 November 2007, with the opening of the Lexington store. That was to be the first of three stores in the Columbia market. I believe this store, beneath the upscale Adesso condos (themselves built on the site of the former mini-mall housing Pappy's and Robo's Video Arcade) was the second Columbia location. A google search suggests the third store was at 1730 Main Street, but I can't bring that one to mind without driving by.

At any rate, according to the franchaise map here all the South Carolina stores are now gone. The map is actually rather interesting in that persuing a Texas, Iowa, Indiana and Kentucky stragegy seems a bit unusual. Things could apparently be going better though, since apart from Texas (which is the home state and has 12 locations) each other state has only one. I never ate at Baker Bros. From the menu and web site, it seems sort of like another McAlister's Deli, a restaurant I never really warmed up to.

As mentioned by commenter Dave, the next business in this slot looks to be a yogurt operation called Yog Hut. My impression based on peering in the corner entrance is that Yog Hut will not be using the full Baker Bros space though.

UPDATE 21 May 2010: Commenter ChiefDanGeorge says the Yog Hut entrance is a different space, so I've added a picture of the Main Street doors. He also suggests that the Yog Hut opening is stalled.

UPDATE 8 July 2010 -- Well if it was stalled, it's unstalled and open now:

(Hat tip to commenter Mike)

UPDATE 28 June 2019: Add tags, map icon.

Written by ted on May 20th, 2010

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Hardee's, 550 Assembly Street: Early 2000s   22 comments

Posted at 10:37 pm in closing

There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the Hardee's which once sat at the corner of Blossom & Assembly Streets, but it's a memory of a somewhat less grandiose scheme of things in that area.

I do remember two things in particular about it:

1) It was the first place I've ever seen ruin a toll-house cookie. I stopped there once feeling a bit snackish and could not finish the thing. It was like they cooked it on the same griddle with the burgers or something. At the time at least, Hardee's could do sweet, something they proved with their cinnamon-raisin biscuit, but not, apparently, after 10:30 am..

2) While the restaurant was on the way down, and maybe after it closed, the side of the parking lot facing Assembly street was filled with used cars for sale.

It's not clear to me what they are building, or going to build, there, but it couldn't have worse cookies...

UPDATE 19 June 2021: Several things. First, this building has long since been razed, and now the property is Innovation Center. Second, I will be adding the correct street address to the post title, third, I will be updating the tags and, finally I will be adding a map icon.

Written by ted on October 28th, 2009

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Hiller Hardware, 600 Harden Street: 26 September 2009   16 comments

Posted at 11:37 pm in Uncategorized

Although there was another, more old-school Hiller Hardware down somewhere in the Vista, this is the one I knew from my childhood as my mother liked to look at the non-hardware, gifty, stuff from time to time when we were in 5 Points. I always thought the place was pretty cool too because of the hardware (not the gifty stuff!) and because, if memory serves me correctly, they often had junior science experiment type kits for sale as well (I suppose that was gifty under some rubric, but it wasn't painted or ceramic..)

Hiller had its own parking lot, as well as metered spaces in front and on the sides, and it was one of the odder lots in town. There was an entrance on Blossom Street by the store back door, and another entrance on Hilton Street which you would not expect at all. The second entrance comes down a rather steep hill and the whole thing is banked like a racetrack. One of my cousin's boyfriends liked to drive up around the bank at an insane speed when the store was closed. It was pretty scary and I was never tempted to do it myself (I did come in from Hilton a number of times myself at a sane speed). It appears that in later years, the Hilton entrance was roped off.

When I heard the store was closing a few months ago, I went by for the first time in years. It hadn't been too picked over at that point, and I got some light bulbs, WD-40 and dust-off spray. The place was still much as I recalled it with the no-nonsense hardware section and the gifty knick-knack sections living together in harmony.

Why did the store close, well, this State story cites the interminable 5 Points street work and big box stores. I'm pretty sure it was the later.

It's an old story in retail. We say we like mom & pop stores, but we shop where there's acres of parking and the stock is both a bit deeper and a few cents cheaper. I'm no different -- as I said above, it had been years since I was in Hiller but I've been to Home Depot or Lowes probably a hundred times in the same period.

It appears to me from the plywood sheeting over some of the front and side windows, that the store was vandalized (or burglarized) at least twice in its final months, and that is a real shame.

The good part of the Hiller closing (again from The State story above) is that the owners own the lot outright, so they will do OK under the new arrangements. In fact, it appears that the incoming bank will only be leasing the property, so they or their heirs will be able to make other deals in the future as well.

Lots of pictures after the jump.

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Written by ted on September 27th, 2009

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The Towers, Corner of Main & Blossom: September 2006   111 comments

Posted at 10:22 pm in closing

[ Welcome LinkedIn visitors. If you enjoy this USC rememberance, you may also like Bell Camp, The Russell House Theater glory days, The Golden Spur, The Shuttlecocks, and The Wade Hampton Hotel -- Ted ]

If this post works out, it will be the most pictures I've had for a single closing, and the most intermixed the text and pictures have been. We'll see how it goes.

Also, I've been looking at my web statistics, and it seems to me that most people aren't clicking on the pictures to get the full-sized versions, so I'll just mention it explicitly: If you click on the pictures, you get bigger versions (usually).

So what can I say about The Towers? Well, I've heard many people call them the armpit of USC, and I've heard other people suggest that if USC were a dog that needed its temperature taken, The Towers were where the thermometer would be inserted. None of that is wrong. Still, I spent a good chunk of time there, and when I heard they were all going to be torn down, I'll admit I was sorry.

Somehow, even after I knew the end was near, I never got around to taking many pictures of the outside of the towers. In fact, this one is about it. I was eating at Moes, when I remembered I wanted to take some shots, but all I had in the car was a crummy disposable camera, so the focus is pretty bad, and I didn't bother to get an unobstructed shot for some reason:

I read in The State that there was going to be a Towers farewell reception, and that in avance of that, the Housing department would be offering farewell tours:

Bid Towers a fond farewell

Former students who once lived in the Towers, or honeycombs residence halls at the University of South Carolina may visit campus for a farewell reception and tour of the halls on Aug. 25.

Originally a complex of six buildings built in 1958 and 1965, the Towers will be replaced with a residence hall and academic center for South Carolina Honors College students.

The buildings will be demolished in September.

The Aug. 25 event is free and will take place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the lobby of Towers.

Leading up to the farewell event, USCs housing staff also will give tours of the Towers on weekdays from 9-11 a.m. and on Saturdays from 2-4 p.m. Tours are by appointment only.

Because interest in the event and the tours is expected to be high, the university is asking people who plan to attend the Aug. 25 event or to schedule a tour to notify housing staff online at

I signed up for a "by appointment only" tour on 24 Aug, and as I turned out to be the only person there, was able to see exactly what I wanted to. Douglas was my Tower so I did a tour of my old floor.

Here is the elevator lobby for Douglas. The elevator in a men's dorm led a rough life. Half the time it was broken, and the other half, it was strewn with pizza boxes and reeked of vomit. There was very little notion of dorm security in 1980, so if the elevator were broken, you could just take the stairs, which opened unsecured to the plaza outside.

Here is my room, Douglas 618. Since it was directly in front of the elevator, it later became an RA room. The peep-hole is a later addition. And yes, I did unscrew the number-plate and now have it at home:

When you first come into a Towers room, you immediately see the "honey-comb" veil blocks which form the wall to the "patio" which is entered from two sliding glass doors. (In practice, these were "barely sliding" glass doors):

After that, you notice the two cots, one along each wall. These appear to have been upgraded from the models which "graced" the buildings when I was there. The arrangement is a bit different as well -- we had study carrels against the back wall of the rooms, and the carrels also acted as de-facto headboards for the cots:

If you walked out onto the "patio", you had a grand view -- of the towers opposite you (assuming you got close enough to the veil blocks to look through them anyway). If you click the picture for the high-res version, you will observe that the Tower opposite almost looks like it has a pattern in its veil blocks which might make letters. That's possible. Often things were spelled out by putting soft-drink cans (shiny-end out) into the veil blocks recesses in patterns. It wouldn't surprise me if after years you ended up with coke stains almost making ghost letters:

I found that someone who had the room after I did was a bit of an artist. Here are two pretty good chalk drawings done on the 618 patio (and by "pretty good", I mean "a lot better than I could do"):

Here's something we definitely didn't have in the 1980s, an RJ-45 ethernet network jack. It's hard to imagine now, but ethernet was at that point an almost experimental technology, and wiring a building for ethernet meant stringing yellow 3/4" cable everywhere. You actually had to cut the cable into two segments to install a new tranceiver (unless you used "vampire" taps). What we had was a black, rotary dial telephone in each room, and that was it. And forget cable! If your room faced the right way, you might be able to pick up WIS. WLTX or WOLO were pretty iffy (though if you were on the west side of Douglas, you could pick up Channel 6 out of Augusta sometimes). One factor in the demise of the Towers was that Gen-Xers & Gen-Yers just wouldn't put up with the kind of stuff we thought was normal (and we walked barefoot through the snow to grammar school, uphill both ways!).

Here's another amenity we didn't have in the 80s: Any kind of thermostat, or as this appears to be at least some sort of fan control for the heat and AC. I suppose there was a thermostat somewhere in the building when I was there, but as far as I could tell, the climate control worked by running the heat full-blast, all the time during the winter, and running the AC full-blast all the time in the spring and fall. What this meant in practice was that our only mechanism for temperature control was the patio doors. On the coldest days, you had to leave them half open to the outside so the furnace wouldn't bake you out of the room. I suspect orbiting satellites could pick up the temperature increase around the towers as every room vented its excess heat that way.

Here's the view from the patio towards the door. These were two student rooms, and each of us had an open closet with a chest-of-drawers:

As you might imagine, the bathrooms in the Towers were every bit as palatial as the rest of the dorm. Here is a sink, and the plumbing access panel which was just as rusty, and paint-chipped in the 80s as it is in this picture.

Here is a whole row of sinks. There was another row on the opposite side of the bathroom, and when the dorm was occupied, each had a mirror above it:

Here is one of the showers in the communal shower stall. (I brought a screw-driver with me, and stole one of the knobs). You can't see it in this picture, but the shower stall was set off from the rest of the bathroom by an entrance with a raised tile "curb" so that the shower water didn't run into the rest of the bathroom. At some point before I got there, several of the residents figured out an interesting property of the shower room. It was tiled from floor to ceiling, and the doorway was ony four feet or so wide. They procured, from somewere, a sheet of plywood five feet or so tall, and more than wide enough to block the shower entranceway. They plugged the drain in the shower floor, put the plywood across the entrance and turned on the water. The water started to rise, and gradually the water pressure glued the plywood across the doorway in an almost watertight fashion: Presto! Instant indoor swimming pool! I had thought this was probably just a Towers legend, but I later learned that it did indeed happen. Of course, being college students, and male, no one thought about the weight of the water and the strength of the floor. Luckily, it held:

I said "communal shower" above, and in the 80s it was. It appears that sometime later, in an attempt to spare just awoken eyes from truly scary sights, they installed private stalls:

Here is the Towers Farewell Reception on 25 Aug 2006. Note the Towers T-shirts being sold and worn:

Here is the historical information on Douglas:

And here is the historical information on Snowden (which was supposed to be pronounced "Snau-den", though it was universally pronounced like the frozen precipitation) and the girls' dorms, Baker and Burney, which were torn down well in advance of the rest of The Towers:

'Cocky', or 'Big Spur' or whatever he is called nowadays was there for the festivities:

There was a raffle as well as an auction and they had audience volunteers do some of the announcements.

And finally: THE END. (Click to play video):

So there you have it. Yes, it was the armpit of USC, but darn it, it was the armpit I lived in, and eyesores that they were, I do miss The Towers.

UPDATE 13 October 2009: Here is a postcard view of The Towers, and the text from the back. I really should put it at the top of the post, but that would mess up the flow of the post as I wrote it.


Designed by the architect of the U. S. Pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair, Edward P. Stone. Built in 1958 each unit houses 250 students. Outside grill reduces air conditioning by 1/3 and shades four foot balcony that juts from each room

UPDATE 15 Jan 2011 -- Commenter Paul sends these to links to pictures taken at the 2006 Towers Reunion:

Set 1

Set 2

UPDATE 23 September 2023: Here are some good stories from The Towwers.

Also updating tags and adding a map icon.

Written by ted on March 14th, 2008

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