Situated on the northeast corner of Blossom and Henderson streets, the Woman’s Club of Columbia building has been a downtown landmark for 77 years. Erected in 1941, the venerable structure stands as a physical testament to generations of women’s activism that began during the Civil War and grew in intensity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Women’s Club of Columbia
As community activists during this period, women frequently challenged social norms and broke down gender barriers by assuming roles traditionally played by men. Amid the social upheaval spawned by the Civil War Columbia women factored heavily into the war effort at home organizing wayside hospitals and fundraisers for support of the troops. Their efforts continued during the post bellum period to memorialize their fallen brothers, sons, fathers and husbands.
Beginning in 1926 and running through 1940, minutes from the Woman’s Club continuously show the desire of the women for their own clubhouse that would provide the club a sense of permanency through a dedicated venue within the city and promoting cohesion within the group.
Erected just before the United States’ entry in World War II, the Woman’s Club building represents a late expression of the neoclassical style of architecture, which had enjoyed a significant following since the 1920s. The prominent Columbia firm of Lafaye, Lafaye and Fair designed the handsome structure whose style makes a social and political statement.
Over the years the building has not only been used exclusively by the Woman's Club but by many people and organizations in Columbia. It has been the venue for wedding receptions, dance recitals, and ballroom dances of generations of many Columbia children and young teens, under the direction of Mrs. Isabel Whaley Sloan [daughter of W.B. Smith Whaley] and Mr. Simpson Zimmerman [son of Christie Powers Zimmerman and brother to Christie Zimmerman Fant], who still resides here in Columbia.
Currently, the University of South Carolina Development Foundation owns this historic structure. It has been uninhabited for more than a decade and is suffering decline as a result. While the structure is sound, it was built in a floodplan, which presents a challenge to any development.
The building and the three-acre land on which is sits is on the market for $1.9 million. The building has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and has not been occupied for more than five years. Both of these criteria make the site eligible for various federal and state tax credits as well as a local tax abatement when rehabilitating the property.