1200 Main Street
Union National Bank Building
Columbia’s second skyscraper debuted on August 25, 1913 as home to Union National Bank. Local contractor John Jefferson Cain erected the thin, 11-story office building based on a Chicago School/Tudor Gothic design rendered by architect William Augustus Edwards. Today, the landmark structure is commonly called “Number One Main," though some people remember it as the Carolina Life Building. In keeping with other architects of his era, Edwards based his design on columns found in classical architecture. The bottom two stories form the base, the middle eight the shaft, and the topmost the capital. Originally, nine pairs of gothic finials, punctuated by stepped parapets, adorned the roofline. Changes made to the building’s exterior around 1980 obscured or removed much original detail, although the structure retains its overall basic elements.