1619-1621 Main Street1619-1621 Main Street
Possibly built as early as the summer of 1866 on land owned by John Rawls, 1619-1621 Main Street is one of several structures on this commercial corridor built during the Reconstruction era. William and Selina Robinson owned the property as early as 1879, and it passed down to their daughters following Selina's death in 1922. The Robinsons were active members of the Jewish community in Columbia; William served as a founding officer of the Hebrew Cemetery Society, a “free cemetery or burial ground for Hebrews,” today known as the Beth Shalom Cemetery at 1300 Whaley Street. By 1898, The State newspaper referred to the building as the "Robinson building."
Between 1904-1909, the Robinson building expanded to include a large theater at the rear. On April 26, 1909, the Grand Theatre opened as a vaudeville house that offered both live performances and moving, motion, pictures. In operation from 1909 until 1914, the Grand changed ownership frequently. The building also underwent extensive renovations around 1910, which included adding the name “Robinson” to the façade. Among the more celebrated acts that The Grand brought to Columbia were the Zam Zacks, “who [did] a sensational knife-throwing act in which [a] lady [was] surrounded with knives, any one of which, if there happened a misthrow, [would have] imperiled her life,” according to The State newspaper.
In 1936, the Allan Shop, owned by the Picow family, opened in the building's 1619 address. It later became Allan’s Clothiers, which expanded to include the entire building in 1948. In 1951, Allan’s made modifications to the façade, adding pink marble, metal jalousie windows screens and a new paint scheme done with “harmonizing paint.” This is also when the oversized, neon Allan’s sign was placed on the front of the building. Allan’s would remain at 1619-1621 Main Street until the store closed its doors in 1971.
In 1983, Andy Zalkin’s Army-Navy Store relocated to a portion of the Robinson building, where it operated until 2016. In 2016, the building was bought by LTC Hospitality Services, which oversaw a major rehabilitation of the property began. The original core of the 1866 building remains intact, as does one of the building’s original windows that was obscured during the 1910 renovation. Intricate tile work and a steel beam that extended the façade from the 1910 renovation were found. Informed by the building's history and the rediscovery of the original sign from The Grand Theatre, the new restaurant and bowling alley was named The Grand on Main, which opened in late 2017.