Tag Archives: Columbia

South Carolina State Museum

Click to enlarge.

Last week I drove to Columbia, SC to visit the South Carolina State Museum.  This museum is a multi-purpose institution, with exhibits ranging from art to history to science and technology.   One of the most interesting things about the museum is the 1894 building in which it is housed.  It is a former textile mill, Columbia Mills,which was a large producer of cotton duck.  The building was given to the state in 1981 after the mill closed.

Some of the original textile-making equipment was saved, and is now installed as an exhibit.  Above are spinning machines.  The museum cleverly produced the look of many rows of machines by the use of mirrors.  There are actually only two machines.

This is a dobby loom from around 1940.  It came from a textile factory in Aiken, SC.  The cloth you see on the loom is what was being made when the factory closed in the early 1980s.

The product of the Columbia Mill was cotton duck, which is a heavy canvas used for tents and conveyor belts and such.  This is one of the last bolts produced before the “Duck Plant” closed.

A lot of the museum is concerned with cotton mill village and rural life in the past.  There was a great interactive model of a large mill village which showed how the village was pretty much an extension of the factory.  And they had a “country store” set up, with all kinds of products that made me want to go shopping.

It’s my guess that most states have a museum of this sort – a mini Smithsonian that is concerned with the history and industry and natural history of the state.  (Though North Carolina has an art museum, a history museum and a natural history museum.)  All the ones I’ve ever visited are well worth the time if only for the wonderful randomness that is often encountered.

I actually had a reason for my visit.  The museum had a special exhibition of items from Springs Mills in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  The company is best known for their production of Springmaid sheets and fabrics, but beginning in 1948 the company was also known for their racy ad campaigns.   I’ve written about this in the past, and tomorrow I’ll share a few things from the exhibition.


Filed under Museums, Road Trip

Columbia, SC Antique Shopping Scene

Columbia is one of those cities which I’d passed through dozens of times, on my way to somewhere closer to the Atlantic Ocean.  It wasn’t until I retired six years ago that I took a day and made Columbia the destination.  I was pleasantly surprised, having found nine antique malls, four of them top-notch establishments.  Well, six years later, things have changed a bit.

I recently found myself in Columbia, with a free afternoon to revisit some old favorites.  What I found will not come as a shock to anyone who regularly shops the second-hand market.  People like me expect these types of places to be in a constant state of flux.

My favorite mall from 6 years ago is now closed.  Actually, it closed three years ago at the height of the economic crisis.  My second favorite place is still doing well, but an annex building is now closed.  Two of the largest malls have become  dumping grounds for junk, though they both have a small selection of vintage clothing.  The most interesting mall is suffering from “no stuff added-itis”, meaning that it is terribly shopworn and I can’t tell that any new stock has been added recently.  And another favorite from the past is now more antique-y than antique.  They must think that decorators really care only about the look.

So what was a really great place to spend the day antique and vintage shopping is now a “I’ll stop if I have a few hours to kill” type of place.  And that’s really sad to see a formerly great vintage market just sort of, well, dry up.  Anyone who happens to find themselves in that area, email me and I’ll fill you in on the particulars of the hits and misses.

A few things of interest:

One thing I love about antique malls is they they usually have taken a big old building from a closed-down business, and have adapted it for use as a mall.  This one was formerly a dry cleaner and laundry, and was possibly something before that.  The building itself is interesting, though like many of the other malls in the area, not air conditioned.  I can’t imagine how miserable it was working in this building when it was a laundry, because it was pretty steamy on the day I visited.

Great photos of the old laundry days.

Nice selection of wearable vintage clothing.

Here’s what I mean by shop-worn.  I’m sure you noticed the dust before you even thought, “I bet Lizzie bought that.”   I didn’t buy it, but I’ve been visiting it for several years now, and will probably continue to do so.  Yes, it is completely wonderful.  Note that there are two levels.  But $175 is too much for faux reptile.  Of course the tag is so faded that I only know the price because I remember it from previous visits.

I thought this was neat.

And this:

And this…



Filed under Road Trip, Shopping