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Wade Hampton Hotel, 1201 Main Street: Early 1980s   53 comments

Posted at 10:36 pm in closing


Looking down Main Street from the Capitol Steps. Points of interest: Foreground, bronze statue of George Washington; Center Monument in memory of soldiers of the Confederacy; left Wade Hampton Hotel; right American Sentinel

The same view today.

The buildings replacing the Wade Hampton Hotel

The Wade Hampton Hotel was a fixture across from The Capitol when I was growing up, although I don't believe I ever set foot inside. The place had a "I was built in the 1940s" look which is enhanced by the marquee shown in one picture identifying the place rather antiquely as Hotel Wade Hampton rather than The Wade Hampton Hotel.

There was a restaurant inside the hotel called Maxim's which I have an ad for somewhere that I have not got around to scanning. It was to the effect that 5 Million Frenchmen are going to the wrong Maxim's!.

By the 70s, the hotel was on a downward slide as national chains built newer properties in more convienient locations as downtown lost its pull and the Interstates came through. By the time I started college at USC in 1980, the hotel had gone under and was being leased by the University as dormitory space much in much the same fashion as Benedict's ill-fated leasing of the old Quality Inn. I don't know if similar safety considerations in the aging building brought that situation to an end or if USC just built sufficient new space (I think Bates came online about that time), but at any rate the arrangement was terminated, and nothing took its place, so the building was finally demolished in the early 80s. I think it was an early morning implosion, which I missed since I am not a morning person, but I could be wrong.

The hotel's place on the block was taken by the AT&T building (or whatever it is called now) and a new building just going up. (Was there something else there in between WH and the crooked looking glass building?)

The views from the Capitol steps are interesting. I had totally forgotten that there was parking in front of the Capitol. Also, the Colonial Life / American Sentinel / WOLO building is really hanging in there isn't it?

Finally google turns up this. This is largely a nostalgia site but lest the retro-spectacle lenses get too rosy, there's a lot to be said for the present as well.

UPDATE 8 Sept 2010: Added Wade Hampton matchbook scan.

UPDATE 25 October 2021: Add full street address to post title. Update tags. Change expired link to wayback machine link. Add map icon.

Written by ted on October 19th, 2009

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Howard Johnson's Motel, 200 Zimalcrest Drive: 1980s(?)   4 comments

Posted at 1:39 pm in closing

It always impresses me how easy it is to take a well known, well regarded brand and run it into the ground. There's no reason carved in stone as to why Sears shouldn't be the country's number one retailer. They had universal market penetration, a trusted image and core products that were consumer touchstones for quality: Craftsman, Kenmore & Diehard. Yet with all that going for them, they still fell asleep at the wheel and let Wal-Mart and even Target eat their lunch.

Something similar happened to Howard Johnson. At one time they were so ubiquitous and well known that Mel Brooks could joke about it in Blazing Saddles and be confident that everyone would get it. The chain is still around, but it's certainly not what it was. The location on Bush river continues in business as a hotel (the one in Cayce with the Cinderella carraige is boarded up). I think it's one of those generic sounding chains now with, I'm guessing, a low franchise fee. It's also got one of Columbia's several Indian restaurants. The time I went there, the food was fine, but the service was a bit slow -- it's changed ownership at least twice since then though. (My favorite Indian restaurant continues to be The Delhi Palace in another hotel over on Broad River).

(By the way, if you can't see the cat in the last picture when you click for full-size, then your browser is automatically scaling images for you, which is, in my opinion, bad. You can fix it in the browser settings [it's different for Internet Explorer and Firefox].)

Written by ted on June 10th, 2008

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