1914 1/2 Main Street1914 Main Street
Site of The Columbia Bakery
Russian native Sam Zusman moved to Columbia in 1921 and opened the Columbia Bakery, at 1914 ½ Main Street, what was then the city's only Jewish bakery and the only bakery to use a brick--as opposed to gas--oven. Advertisements in the 1920s and 1930s touted Zusman's specialties: rye and pumpernickel breads, initially sold only at the Main Street storefront and the Assembly Street market. Additionally, Zusman made special breads from recipes designed for allergy sufferers and diabetics and had them shipped them around the Southeast and to several multiple Columbia-era hospitals. By 1936, the bakery’s goods were also available at Rivkin’s Delicatessen and at 1330 Assembly Street, where Zusman briefly opened a second branch.
For decades, the Columbia Bakery was the most popular among the Jewish merchants on Main and Assembly streets (it counted both the Louries and the Gergels as regular customers) and also counted among its customers members of the Greek, Syrian, and Italian communities. Most people coming downtown stopped into The Columbia Bakery to purchase their breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, and to have conversations within the wonderful aroma of fresh baked goods. The business operated until 1963, when lightning struck an electricity pole right outside the bakery, traveled into the business's fuse box, an caught the building on fire. Ron Port, eldest son of George and Celia, shared his memories of that day. According to the family, the bakery’s famous recipes-kept in a little notebook behind the counter-were lost in the fire.