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Carolina Paws, 4839 Forest Drive: 1 May 2012 (moved)   6 comments

Posted at 12:45 am in business

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Carolina Paws pet grooming shared the old Dobbs House building with Forest Lake Spirits until moving to 1647 Budon Court in early May of 2012.

I thought I would take this opportunity to mention not only that move, but the ongoing work in the old building. There has been a dumpster out front for several weeks, and the permits arrayed on the door indicate that the place is being upfitted for a new restaurant (or at least, I can think of no other reason for a "hood' to be installed).

UPDATE 10 April 2013 -- Well, it's official -- The Schiano's sign is up:

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Written by ted on December 18th, 2012

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Forest Lake Shopping Center, 4801 Forest Drive: 1982   8 comments

Posted at 12:09 am in attraction,business,stores

A distant view of the whole shopping center plot:

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The First Citizens stands more or less exactly where Campbell's Drugstore was:

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The new Forest Acres Town Clock:

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The Talbot's building is where the far end of the first building was:

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This is the second building of Forest Lake Shopping Center which is still standing today:

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Sakura was Christo's Roast Beef House as well as Moolan's Hide-Away, Biddie Banquet and serveral other restaurants:

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Coplon's was originally Colonial grocery:

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This was originally Dobbs House and several other restaurants:

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The Forest Lake Shopping Center Park was originally owned by Colonial and fell into disrepair after that store closed:

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This was the original location of Forest Lake TV:

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The current garden center (not to be confused with the one sometimes listed below) and Webb Rawls gallery/framing center share the old First Citizens location, with the gallery being in the old main building (the vault is still in there) and the garden center being in the drive-through buildings and parking lot. I suspect the listings below give several different bank tenants for this slot, but I'm not sure which are here and which are elsewhere in the shopping center:

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Forest Lake Shopping Center was the name of the shopping center at the North-East corner of Trenholm Road & Forest Drive, across Forest Drive from Trenholm Plaza and across Trenholm Road from Five Guys and Forest Acres Town Hall.

As I remember Forest Lake Shopping Center it never quite thrived the way Trenholm Plaza did, and over the years it gradually got a bit dowdy. In the end, instead of giving the place some TLC and a facelift, the main building was torn down to be replaced by a two new ones, a First Citizens bank and Talbot's. (Just recently the Forest Acres town clock was put up at the corner of the old Shopping Center Space).

The second original building of Forest Lake Shopping Center still stands and now houses Coplon's, Sakura and several other shops.

As you can see from the listings below, the city directory went back and forth on whether Dobb's House (in the corner of the parking lot) and the Garden Center (across Gills Creek) were offical parts of the shopping center or not. You can also see that they also incorrectly listed Trenholm Plaza fixtures Piggly Wiggly and the Post Office as being in Forest Lake Shopping Center

Rather than reproducing images from the city directories, I have opted to type them in, so search engines can find them here. That means I have probably made some typos that I will fix as they are pointed out. Also note that the early listings for the shopping center did not have suite numbers. When they started being given, I have reproduced them. Even then, not every shop was always given a number.

I have given 1982 as the closing date for Forest Lake Shopping Center because that was the last year it was a separate listing in the City Directory. Apparently at that point, they gave up running it as a going shopping center, and thereafter every shop got its own street address. However, the building was not torn down until sometime after 1984. I should have continued looking in directories after that, but for some reason I did not.

1957

No separate listing for Forest Lake Shopping Center as such was given in the 1957 city directory, but a number of the shops are listed as standalones.

Forest Lake Laundromat
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
Mayfield's Barber Shop
Cooper Agency Inc
Perpetual Building & Loan Association
Mutual Properties Inc.
Mutual Savings & Loan Co
Cooper-Shawview Hts Inc
Forest Lake Water Wks district office
Southern States Construction
Mrs. Eliz B. Bailey (liquor)
Forest Lake Hardware
Ardis Texaco Service Station
Campbell's Forest Lake Pharmacy
Piggly Wiggly
Forest Lake Beauty Salon

1958

Dodd's 5-10-25¢ Stores Inc
Mel's Kiddie Land (toys)
Lad 'N Lassie Shops Inc (children's clothes)
Brooks Brown Forest Acres Florist
Bagnal's Appliances & Paint
Your Shop (clothing)
Eau Claire Bakery
Calhoun Life Insurance
Colonial Stores Inc
The Commercial Bank & Trust Co of SC
Forest Lake Shopping Center
Carol Glass School of Dance
Gillespie's Forest Lake Laundromat
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
Mayfield's Barber Shop
Cooper Agency Inc (real estate)
Perpetual Building & Loan Association
Mutual Properties Inc
Mutual Savings & Loan Co
Cooper-Shawview Hts Inc (real estate)
Forest Lake Water Works (district Office No 1)
Southern States Construction Co
Mrs. Eliz B. Bailey (liquor)
Forest Lake Hardware
US PO
Ardis Texaco Service Station
Campbell's Drug Stores Inc
Piggly Wiggly
Forest Lake Beauty Salon

1959

Dodd's 5-10-25¢ Stores Inc
Mel's Kiddie Land (toys)
Lad 'N Lassie Shops Inc (children's clothes)
Brooks Brown Florist
Forest Lake Mens Shop Inc
Garber's Shoes
Your Shop (clothing)
Eau Claire Bakery
Colonial Stores Inc
Lampland
Perry mortage & Realty Co
The Commercial Bank & Trust Co of SC
Forest Lake Garden Center
Carol Glass School of Dance
Gillespie's Forest Lake Laundromat
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
Mayfield's Barber Shop
Cooper Agency Inc (real estate)
Perpetual Building & Loan Association
Mutual Properties Inc
Mutual Savings & Loan Co
Forest Lake Water Works (district Office No 1)
Southern States Construction Co
Mrs. Eliz B. Bailey (liquor)
Forest Lake Hardware
US PO
Campbell's Drug Stores Inc
Andrew A. Manning Jr (physician)
Elmo J. Schmidt (dentist)
Piggly Wiggly
Forest Lake Beauty Salon

1960

Dodd's 5-10-25¢ Stores Inc
Mel's Kiddie Land (toys)
Lad 'N Lassie Shops Inc (children's clothes)
Brooks Brown Florist
Forest Lake Mens Shop Inc
Garber's Shoes
Your Shop (clothing)
Forest Acres Realty Co
Eau Claire Bakery
Colonial Stores Inc
Lampland
Perry Realty & Mortgage Co
The Commercial Bank & Trust Co of SC
Forest Lake Garden Center
Carol Glass School of Dance
Gillespie's Forest Lake Laundromat
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
Mayfield's Barber Shop
Cooper Agency Inc (real estate)
Perpetual Building & Loan Association
Mutual Properties Inc
Mutual Savings & Loan Co
Forest Lake Water Works (district Office No 1)
Southern States Construction Co
Mrs. Eliz B. Bailey (liquor)
Forest Lake Hardware
US PO
Campbell's Drug Stores Inc
Andrew A. Manning Jr (physician)
Elmo J. Schmidt (dentist)
Piggly Wiggly
Forest Lake Beauty Salon

1961

Dodd's 5-10-25¢ Stores Inc
Mel's Kiddie Land (toys)
Lan (sic) 'N Lassie Shops Inc (children's clothes)
Brooks Brown Florist
Forest Lake Mens Shop Inc
Garber's Shoes
Your Shop (clothing)
Forest Acres Realty Co Inc
Eau Claire Bakery
Colonial Store's Inc
Lampland
Perry Realty & Mortgage Co
The Commercial Bank & Trust Co of SC
Forest Lake Garden Center
Carol Glass School of Dance
Gillespie's Forest Lake Laundromat
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
Mayfield's Barber Shop
Cooper Agency Inc
Perpetual Building & Loan Association
Mutual Properties Inc
Mutual Savings & Loan Co
Forest Lake Water Works (District Office No 1)
Southern States Construction Co
Mrs. Eliz B. Bailey (liquor)
Forest Lake Hardware
USPO
Campbell's Drug Stores Inc
Mrs. Theodosia G. Orr (physician)
Mrs. Serena R. Clark (physician)
Elmo J. Schmidt (dentist)
Piggley Wigly
Forest Lake Beauty Salon

1962

Forest Acres Town Clerk
Dodd's 5-10-25¢ Stores Inc
Lan (sic) 'N Lassie Shops Inc (childrens' clothing)
Forest Lake Men's Shop Inc
Garber's Shoes
Your Shop (clothing)
Forest Acres Realty Co Inc
Eau Claire Bakery
Colonial Stores Inc
Lampland
Perry Realty & Mortage Co
The Commercial Bank & Trust Co of SC
Forest Lake Garden Center
Bankers Securities Inc
Carol Glass School of Dance
Forest Lake Laundromat
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
Mayfield's Barber Shop
Cooper Agency Inc
Prepetual Building & Loan Co
Southern States Construction Co
Mrs Eliz B Bailey (liquor)
Forest Lake Hardware
Campbell's Drug Stores Inc
Mrs. Theodosia G. Orr (physician)
Mrs. Serena R. Clark (physician)
Dobb's House (restaurant)
Elmo J Schmidt (dentist)
Piggly Wiggly
Forest Lake Beauty Salon

1970

1 Forest Lake Pharmacy Inc
1a Phillips Petroleum Co
10 Forest Lake Beauty Salon
11 Dodd's 5-10-25 Cent Store
12 Flowers By Brooks
13 Norman's Lampland
14 Forest Lake Knitting Shop
16 Union Oil Co of California
16 Forest Lake Fabric Center
17 Calvert-Brodie School of Dance
18 Perry White Realty Co
19 Jack Owen Photography
20 Elmo J. Schmidt (dentist)
21 Forest Acres Realty Co
22 Colonial Stores Inc
23 Town of Forest Acres City Hall
24 Christos Roast Beef House
25 Forest Lake Radio & Television Serivce

1975

1 Forest Lake Pharmacy
1a Lob's Volley Tennis
10 Forest Lake Beauty
11 Fabrific Fabric Center
11a The Jade Clock
12 Flowers By Brooks
13 Carolina Lamp & Shade
14 Forest Lake Knitting
15 Union Oil Co of California
16 Forest Lake Drapery & Upholstery Fabric Center
17 Jack Owen Photography
18 White Realty Co
19 Ladder Escape Co
20 Elmo J. Schmidt (dentist)
Christos Roast Beef House
21 Forest Acreas Realty
22 Colonial Stores Inc
Forest Lake Radio & Television Service
23 Registered Nurses & L P N Registry
Dial-A-Sitter
Vogue Stylons
24 Calvert-Brodie School of Dance
Fabrific Fabric Center
26 The Dance Store

1980

1 Forest Lake Pharmacy Inc
10 Forest Lake Beauty Salon
11 The Lily Gilder (women's clothing)
12 Flowers By Brooks
13 The Golf Bag
14 Forest Lake Knitting Shop
15 Case Brothers House of Music
Brides of Carolina
16 Forest Lake Drapery & Upholstry Fabric Center Inc
17 Vacant
18 Capital Independent Adjuster
20 Skandia Restaurant
22 Forest Lake TV Repair
23 The Nurse Registry
Palmetto Nurses Registry Rev Richard C. Acker Director
Peachtree Nurses Registry Rev Richard C. Acker Director
Poste Bidders (printing)
Dial-A-Sitter
24 Calvert-Brodie School of Dance
26 Howard S. Denny, Jr (dentist)

1982

Last separate listing for Forest Lake Shopping Center

1 Forest Lake Pharmacy
7 The Lily Gilder (clothing)
8 Brides of Carolina
10 Forest Lake Beauty Salon
12 Flowers By Brooks
13 Heritage Printing Co
14 Forest Lake Knitting Shop
15 Case Brothers House of Music
15 Forest Lake Drapery & Upholstery Fabric Center Inc
17 The Cache Pot
18 Mitchell Music Co
20 Skandia Restaurant
21 Erik Florander
22 Forest Lake TV Repair
23 Ralph E. Walden & Associates (architects)
24 Calvert-Brodie School of Dance
26 Howard S. Denny, Jr. (dentist)

1983

Shops now listed as individual street addresses

4803 M. L. Sweets (confectionery)
4805 Majik Market Food Store No. 39
4807 The Picture Place (framer)
4809 Silver Fox Tennis Shop
4811 Forest Lake Barber Service
4813 Cooper Insurance Agency
Perpetual Trust Co
4815 Southern States Construction
4819 Schmidt Liquors
4825 Good Wood Unfinished Furniture

1984

4803 M. L. Sweets (confectionery)
4805 Majik Market Food Store No. 39
4807 The Picture Place (framer)
4809 Silver Fox Tennis Shop
4811 Forest Lake Barber Service
4813 Cooper Insurance Agency
Perpetual Trust Co
4815 Southern States Construction
4819 Schmidt Liquors
4825 Ashby's (clothing)

UPDATE 19 October 2012: I have been reminded in the comments that this shopping center pre-dates Trenholm Plaza and that the Piggly Wiggly and Post Office did in fact start here before moving across the street. (Piggly Wiggly is, of course now long gone, but the Post Office remains in Trenholm Plaza).

Forest Lake Spirits & Fine Wines, 4835 Forest Drive: Early 2012   4 comments

Posted at 1:39 am in stores

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Forest Lake Spirits & Fine Wines was one of the follow on operation in the old Dobbs House / Steak 'n Egg Kitchen building (next to Gills Creek and Forest Lake Park).

It appears that the building is now broken into three storefronts, and Forest Lake Spirits & Fine Wines was the leftmost one. You can see the attached picnic/patio area which I believe was the deck from the last time the place was a restaurant (which was well after the Steak 'n Egg era). I stopped there several times to pick up some cooking spirits for tiramisu, cheesecake and eggnog. The staff was quite friendly, but I believe that each time, I was the only customer in the store.

I'm not exactly sure when the place closed, but they are listed in the February 2012 phonebook, so I'm saying early 2012. Or, I suppose it's possible they will be back at 1:35.

UPDATE 25 September 2012 -- Something is happening here. There are dumpsters both in front and behind the building and people in and out:

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UPDATE 18 December 2012: It appears a new restaurant will be going in here. See the pictures here.

Written by ted on July 14th, 2012

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Moolah's Hide-Away, 20 Forest Lake Shopping Center: 1978   3 comments

Posted at 12:29 am in nightclub,personalities,restaurants

As far as I can tell, Moolah's Hide-Away was a fairly short lived operation, as it appears only in the 1977 Bellsouth phonebook. The restaurant was in the space once occupied by Biddie Banquet and occupied for a good number of years now by Sakura. From the ad, it appears that they were pitching it as a base-gate type operation to draw off of Fort Jackson. Wikipedia claims that the restaurant was actually operated by Moolah's daughter.

Judjing by Wikipedia, The Fabulous Moolah (real name Mary Lillian Ellison) had quite an interesting life, becoming the first woman to wrestle in Madison Square Garden. The Columbia High School graduate went on to become the most famous female wrestler of the the thirty years from the 50s into the 80s and appeared in videos with Cyndi Lauper during her wrestling era. She passed away in Columbia in November 2007.

UPDATE 10 Feb 2011: Added a better picture of the current location

Written by ted on April 11th, 2010

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The Great Christmas Day Forest Acres Flood of 2009, Forest Acres: 25 December 2009   1 comment

Posted at 12:42 am in events

Video

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The soggy aftermath at Forest Lake Shopping Center on the 26th:

Well, I was not actually going to make another post until the New Year, but I don't think I can let the Great Christmas Flood of 2009 pass without notice. As we headed out over the river and through the woods, we found out that in fact the river was over the woods this year.

As we tried to get to Trenholm Road, we found that creek (name unknown) was flooding Trenholm access from both Academy Way (first picture) and Sylvan Drive and that Eightmile Branch was flooding Gamewell Drive. Fortunately the WIllingham Drive bridge was still above water. At Forest Lake Shopping Center (Trenholm Road at Forest Drive) the Garden Center and Web Rawls Gallery in the old bank were flooded as was the whole of Forest Lake Park

In fact, water was coming over the Forest Lake Park embankment into Gills Creek at such great speed and volume that it made a line of waterfalls. As we watched, we saw several bits of flotsam & jetsam such as trash cans go over the falls. The park whirly-gig was entirely under water. We drove over to Zoe's parking lot, and I got some Quicktime video of the cataracts. There's not a lot of pictures because a) it was still raining cats and dogs & b) we were on our way out of town. By the time we got back mid-morning the 26th all the flood waters were gone though the Web Rawls and Garden Center folks were still working at recovery.

I think that makes two "100 year" floods here in the last 15 years..

UPDATE 28 December 2009: D'Oh! Video links were wrong, fixed now.

UPDATE 29 July 2010: Added the picture from 26 December.

Biddie Banquet, 20 Forest Lake Shopping Center: 1960s   3 comments

Posted at 12:10 am in historic,restaurants

OK, anyone remember this one? The ad is from the Southern Bell Columbia phonebook for 1963. Given the lead time for a yellow-pages ad, I was probably one when this was prepared, and two when it ran. The address seems to match up with the current Sakura Japanese Restaurant in the remains of the old Forest Lake Shopping Center, behind Coplon's and at the other end of the corridor from the original Forest Lake TV location.

Sakura is the only restaurant that I can ever really recall being there, but I learned from some comments here that at one time the location was Moolah's, run by (or licensed by?) a famous female wrestler. Did Biddie Banquet come before or after Moolah's? My mother used to shop at Colonial Grocery (now Coplon's) all the time so they both must have been gone by the late 60s or I would have noticed them.

I have to say that apart from my whole "I don't like chicken" thing, the bottom line

Shrimp -- Fish -- Chili

sounds particularly unappetizing, and what's the deal with the quotes on "The" Original"?

I do think the chicken art is very nice!

UPDATE 10 Feb 2011 -- Here's the Biddie Banquet location, now occupied by Sakura:

Written by ted on March 20th, 2009

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Dobbs House / Steak 'n Egg Kitchen, 4835 Forest Drive: 1970s   6 comments

Posted at 11:22 pm in historic,restaurants

The Steak 'n Egg Kitchen was in this building on the bank of Gills Creek across the street from Trenholm Plaza and in front of Forest Lake Park. Commenter Lisa B's parents ran the restaurant (and another in Cayce), and she has an interesting rememberance here.

What I remember about the place is that it had a counter fitted with round, floor-mounted, stools on which a kid could twirl for as long as a parent could stand it and unpadded booths, like at the Waffle House or Huddle House lining the outside walls. I don't remember much about the menu, though I think it inclined towards hearty breakfast and lunch fare, but I do remember one item in particular. We didn't get to go there often (and in fact generally ate only one meal a week 'out'), but when we did, I had to have "Black Bottom Pie". I don't remember what was inside the chocolate cracker crust, but whatever it was, it was good! I think it's rather interesting that with the Steak 'n Egg Kitchen, there were at least three lunch counter operations in this block of Forest Drive. The other two were Liggett's Drugstore (later Ligget Rexall) at Trenholm Plaza and Campbell's Drug Store at the other end of Forest Lake Shopping Center. All three are gone now..

I'm not sure how long the Steak 'n Egg Kitchen lasted, but I'm pretty sure it was gone by the time I started college in 1980, and think it was in fact several years before that. This article from 1987 says that the chain still had 130 units then, but that it was troubled and that the new owners were attempting a turnaround. I don't find a corporate web site, so I'm guessing it didn't work. Anyway, after Steak 'n Egg Kitchen closed, another restaurant set up shop briefly in the building (which was remodelled). I can't recall the name of the place, but I got the impression that it was family run, and it had home-made raw fries. I think there was a non-retail business after that, perhaps an insurance office or some such and then the current tenants arrived and split the building. I've bought brandy & rum for cooking from the liquor store, but I don't know anything about the other two outfits. At any rate, none of them have Black Bottom Pie..

UPDATE 30 Jan 09:

Here's the old Harden Street location (mentioned in the comments). It's now El Burrito.

UPDATE 14 July 2012: Added the full street address for the Forest Drive location, and added the "Dobbs House" name to the post title. Also added some tags.

UPDATE 11 October 2013: Here is a great picture of one of the incarnations of this location. Thanks to commenter Dennis for ferreting this out!

Written by ted on October 29th, 2008

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Commercial Bank & Trust / First Citizens Bank, Forest Lake Shopping Center: 1980s   2 comments

Posted at 10:21 pm in historic,stores

I'm not entirely sure of the details, but when I was growing up, my parents had two different banks. I suppose they had each had accounts before getting married, and decided to keep them, or perhaps there were different banks for checking and for savings (the family definitely had passbook accounts at Standard Savings & Loan). At any rate, First Citizens at Forest Lake seemed to be the one my mother stopped at most often to cash checks when in the car with us kids.

From time to time, she would go inside (and perforce drag us with her), but usually she would go through the drive-through, which we always looked forward to since the teller would usually pass out a sucker to each of us along with my mother's cash.

This particular branch of First Citizens was a bit unusual in that the drive-throughs were staffed seperately from the main building. As you can see, there was a little outbuilding by the drive-through lanes. I doubt very much that it was plumbed; I imagine the tellers had to make a trip back to the main building when nature called. Of course in those days bankers' hours were short enough that it probably wasn't a big issue.

I think the lane that was on the side of the building facing Trenholm was a drive-through as well and would have been staffed from the main building, but if I recall correctly, it was harder to get in and out of (and it may have been simply a night depository lane rather than a real teller window).

My memory on timings is always very suspect, but I think this branch closed before the main part of Forest Lake Shopping Center (with Campbell's Drugs etc) was torn down and a new First Citizens was built there, so that there was a period whn First Citizens didn't have a branch in the neighborhood.

I'm a little hazy on what happened after the bank left. I think there were a few tenants in the building before the current arrangements gelled, but I'm not sure. At any rate, I think the current clients have been there for at least the last ten years: A gallery and frame shop in the "main" building, and a garden shop in the outbuilding, teller lanes and the rest of the exterior.

I was a little surprised that the garden shop made it, as I would have guessed that that space was really to constricted to work with, but they have really prospered. I suppose the closure of Forest Lake Garden Center around where the Lazy Boy store now is opened up the area for a new store. I've been to the garden shop a few times (this spring for a pair of gloves, last year for some mint plants), but I've never been in the gallery. I like art galleries, but I always have the feeling that if one is small enough that I'll be the only person in there other than the proprietor, I'll feel like I need to buy something..

Oh, and that Flood Hazard Area sign?

They weren't kidding:

UPDATE 19 October 2013 -- Just found out the original name of this place was Commercial Bank & Trust so I have added that to the post title. Here's a picture of it in operation from 1964.

Written by ted on August 14th, 2008

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Forest Lake Park, Forest Lake Shopping Center (Trenholm Road & Forest Drive): 1970s   54 comments

Posted at 4:22 pm in attraction,historic

What does it mean to say a park is "closed"? Well, the land could be sold and built, there could be a fence to keep people out, or as in the case of Forest Lake Park, it could just have been abandoned by its owners, whoever they were.

Forest Lake Shopping Center is on the corner of Trenholm Road and Forest Drive, directly across Forest from Threnholm Plaza and has had its ups and downs. Originally, the center was anchored by Campbell's Drug Store which was directly on the corner. Down from Campbell's on the storefronts facing Forest were my longtime barbershop, a hardware store and a lot of shops I've completely forgotten. The hardware closed fairly early on (probably by 1970) and at some point a 7-11 moved into that row.

I don't remember much about the storefronts facing away from Forest except that there was a cloth shop at one time, and later some sort of clothing store where I was fitted for a suit once. Across the parking lot from Campbell's, was a small branch bank, denomination forgotten, where my mother often used the drive-through. Behind the bank was a creek, with a footbridge over it leading off into the adjoining neighboorhood.

The Campbell's block of stores was separated from another block by an access cut-through, and this other block was generally more important to us, as the main part of it (now Coplons) was a Colonial grocery store, my mother's favored place to buy groceries. I don't know exactly why this was, as even then, Columbia didn't lack for grocery stores, and there was an A&P right across the road in Trenholm Plaza. The thing I remember is that she was convinced that "Farm Charm" medium-sharp chedder was the only cheese worth buying (she convinced me as well) and "Farm Charm" was available only at Colonial or Big Star groceries. (There was a Big Star abuting the K-Mart on Fort Jackson Blvd). The block of stores with Colonial also held Forest Lake TV, where we had our sets repaired several times, and Sakura Japanese restaurant, which is still there, and must be the oldest Japanese restaurant in Columbia.

Colonial folded (I think) in the late 60s (leaving us to go over to Big Star for cheese..). I don't recall how long it was before Coplon's moved in, but I'm pretty sure it was there before they knocked down the whole Campbell's side of the shopping center (dispossessing my barbers) and put in the new First Citizens and Talbots there. The branch bank had closed by then, and its space is now taken over by a gallery/frame-shop with the outbuildings being sucessfully run by an enterprising garden store.

What does this have to do with the park? Well, my impression always was that the park was run by Colonial as a place for kids to go play while their mothers' shopped. (Yes, in those days, as long as it wasn't across a major road, you could send the kids out of sight to play!). When Colonial went under, the park stopped being maintained. Every now and then, there might be a minor repair, which I imagine the (mostly hard-luck by now) shops being dunned for, but in general there was nothing. The last major thing to happen was the carting off of the swingset, which had been swing-less for years.

Today, there are 3 fixtures. Here are two, the bench and the monkey bars:

Here's a closer look at the monkey bars:

I have a particularly vivid memory of these. Once, when my mother was shopping at Colonial, and my sister & I were playing in the park, I had one of those ideas that seems good at the time and decided that I could probably hang by my knees off of the bars across the top. As it turned out, I could. What I couldn't do, being little more athletic then than now, was get down again. After several increasingly anxious minutes of contemplating a drop onto the ground or the other bars, I sent my sister into Colonial to get my mother, who (the situation probably having been conveyed to her in a garbled manner to sound more alarming than it was) abandoned her cart and came racing around the corner. In the event, I had just figured out how to get down anyway...

Gills Creek forms the backdrop for the park, and I'm a bit surprised that no restaurant on either side of the creek has ever had a creek deck. It's rather peaceful and pleasant:

Here's Gills Creek on the other side of the bridge from the park:

Eightmile Branch forms the back boundry of Forest Lake Shopping Center and here's where it runs into Gills Creek:

Here is the park's third fixture, a merry-go-round:

Of course there is a drawback to having a park (or shopping center for that matter) bordered by creeks: Creeks rise.

Sometime back in the 90s, we had a 100 year flood in Forest Acres. At that point, a lot of Gamewell Drive was under water with parts of Sylvan Drive innundated as well. Given its position at the confluence of Eightmile Branch & Gills Creek, a good bit of Forest Lake Shopping Center was under water (most of the Garden Center area) as was all of the park. One of the local stations, I believe it was WLTX, had a crew in the parking lot shooting footage of the flood. I had to tell them they were looking at a park (I think I got on TV, but I can't recall for sure). At that point, the merry-go-round was completely invisible under at least six inches of water. For some reason, I was walking around in my flip-flops, having parked my car a good ways off. I considered wading out to the merry-go-round to ride a turn around on it to give them a good visual, but decided I wasn't going to risk my feet on who knows what washed up detritus without something more substantial shielding them. I know I took some flood pictures myself, if I ever find them again, I'll get them digitized and post a few.

Anyway, if you want to sit on a bench, climb the monkey-bars, or take a spin on the merry-go-round Forest Lake Park is still there for now..

UPDATE 15 May 2010 -- Here's a pointless quicktime video of the merry-go-round in motion from 26 Aug 2009

And here's Forest Lake Park in the snow from 13 Feb 2010:

UPDATE 10 Feb 2011 -- In April 2010, someone cut down a honking big pine tree, and put the segments around the merry-go-round:

UPDATE 4 April 2013: Tragedy!

I'm guessing that with the continuing renovations at the old Dobbs House/Forest Lake Spirits/Carolina Paws building, somebody noticed the park and the merry-go-round and decided it was a huge liability issue. At any rate, both remaining park fixtures, the merry-go-round and an old park bench have been torn out and the park is now just an empty lot except for the ring of buried bricks around where the merry-go-round used to be:

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Here's two shots from my first and only TV interview at the park on 1 March 2011:

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Written by ted on March 28th, 2008

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