1332 Main Street
Equitable Arcade Building
The Equitable Real Estate Company—a group of Columbia businessmen headed by banker and developer Edwin Wales Robertson—hired Jonathan J. Cain to build Columbia's first indoor shopping center in 1912. The L-shaped terra cotta-clad Renaissance Revival style building (whose location was depicted in the 1919 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map) reportedly cost of $200,000 and featured an open arcade patterned after those in Italy and “electric lights in handsome bronze chandeliers, according to The State newspaper. In 1970, its open-air style was enclosed with the addition of windows near the roof. From 1972 until 1978, its basement held a series of restaurants and bars called Down Under Columbia. Under the current ownership of Peach Properties, the Arcade Mall has benefited from detailed historic preservation efforts that have revitalized the venerable landmark as one of Main Street's most desirable addresses.
Site of Parlor Restaurant
Benjamin “Ben” David (1852-1920) was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph David (dates unknown), and his siblings, Rosa (1850-1893), Wolff (dates unknown) and Jacob (1854 - 1914) in 1855. He arrived in Columbia by 1875, where he is listed as selling wine and liquors on Assembly Street. By 1880, he was living in Chester, South Carolina, while his older sister, Rosa, was living with her husband, Barnett Berman, and children in Columbia. David returned to Columbia by 1891 and for several years worked as a merchant and saloon proprietor. In 1896, he opened the Parlor Restaurant in the Kendall Building on the 1200 block of Washington Street. The Parlor Restaurant would operate for 18 years at several locations in downtown Columbia, including the site of the Arcade Mall on Main Street.
Upon David’s death in 1920, he and his restaurant were eulogized in The State newspaper:
Mr. David conducted a restaurant, where the Arcade building now stands, for many years and became widely known as the best caterer in the state. At his restaurant legislators, business men, travelers and bankers as well as others found a rendezvous. They gathered there for their meals and were always sure of polite attention and plenty to eat. “Uncle Ben” made Columbia known as the “square meal town.”
“Uncle Ben” was buried in Columbia’s Hebrew Benevolent Society cemetery alongside his brother, Jacob David.