I discovered this place many years ago when I first moved to Columbia. I had an internship downtown, and I often used this place as a shortcut to get through the block. As an added plus, it’s air conditioned, so you can get a quick reprieve from the heat of this city! This is certainly one of the most unique places I have seen in Columbia, and for that matter, just about any place I’ve been. It was nearly deserted when I was shooting, save for the lone shopkeeper who was milling about his barbershop. This is somewhat of a depressing place, as many storefronts and offices lie vacant and there are only a handful of patrons that I have ever seen in here. It has been this way for years, with very little changing since I first discovered this place long ago. I tried to bring out that feeling of desolation and stagnation with the way I processed these images. I purposefully wanted them to be dark and gritty to match the vibe I get from being in here.
The architecture is such a mashup of so many styles and eras that I really don’t know how to describe it. My first impression was that of a medieval dungeon, with those cast iron chandeliers and exposed beam ceiling. Then you notice the Roman-style tiles and intricate stonework on the columns and the walls, as well as the 70’s era pink that is coating most of the walls here. It’s truly a unique place, and it’s quirky because it has no real architectural style other than it’s own hybrid. It was a pleasure to come here and shoot this place, as there are so many things to focus on and be inspired by. If there are those of you who live in Columbia and have never been here, check it out next time you’re downtown. One entrance is right across the street from the Palmetto Building on Washington, and the other is a little ways down on Main. It’s worth the quick walk through the mall to have the opportunity to see some truly unique architecture that has been in the city of Columbia for the past 40 years, tucked away and seemingly untouched since that time.