1649 Main Street

1649 Main Street

Columbia, SC


One of the oldest surviving buildings in Columbia’s Main Street Commercial Historic District, 1649 Main Street had fallen into deep disrepair after many years of vacancy. A phased rehabilitation began with preserving the building’s historic details and creating viable shell space for future tenants. Tenant upfits created vibrant and varied spaces for hospitality in the building’s basement, first, second, and roof levels.

The first phase of rehabilitation restored the building’s historic storefront system along Main Street, removed modern carpeting that obscured historic wood floors, and removed a late 20th-century mezzanine and drop ceilings to expose historic trusses and pressed tin ceilings throughout. Sections of the sidewalk were removed along Blanding Street to provide daylight to the subgrade level and create a garden-level patio and leasable space in the basement. These early treatments attracted the attention of local business owners charmed by the building’s reinvigorated character and eager to capitalize on its location in the heart of Columbia’s Main Street district.

Chef-driven local restaurant Hendrix undertook the first tenant upfit in late 2018, reimagining the second and rooftop levels of the building. Interior brickwork, ductwork, hardwood floors, and wood trusses remain exposed in Hendrix’s spaces, recalling the building’s long history as a retail store and the grocer from which the restaurant takes its name. Modern suspended staircases provide access between floors without hindering open floor plans, maximizing the building’s narrow footprint to accommodate as much seating as possible. Preservation of the building’s historic windows allows natural daylight to flood the building’s interior and provides a picture window view of Main Street below.  A new decking system constructed to support the rooftop bar effectively stacks the bar above the older roof. This enables the bar to hold large numbers of people while preserving the building’s historic structure. Positioning the suspended stair to the rooftop along the building’s south wall maintains visibility of the building’s historic roofline from street level. To this same end, cable railings along the roof’s edge provide security while preserving historic sightlines. Large modern windows in the staircase enclosure provide rooftop guests with unobstructed views of the city skyline and shelter in case of inclement weather.

The second tenant upfit began in late 2019 and created custom spaces for the beloved local dance club The Woody on the basement and street levels. On the street level, granite-topped bars and cozy seating are arranged around a spacious open dance floor. High windows on the north wall and the glass storefront along Main Street permit daylight to the interior, highlighting the historic pressed tin ceilings high above. The DJ booth is suspended over the building’s main entry, maintaining unobstructed views of the restored storefront.

Rehabilitation of 1649 Main Street has continued the revitalization of Main Street northward, expanding one of Columbia’s primary business and arts and entertainment districts while preserving an important vestige of the city’s architectural and economic history. 1649 Main Street’s successful rehabilitation is a testament to adaptive reuse as an economic development tool in urban cores.

Photography by Brian Dressler.

original construction
awards for adaptive reuse
The Woody project image
The Woody project image


2021 Merit Award – Adaptive Reuse
AIA – South Atlantic Region

2021 Preservation Award – Revitalization
Historic Columbia

2021 Honor Award – Historic Preservation
Preservation South Carolina, SC Department of Archives and History, and the SC Office of the Governor

2020 Citation Award – Adaptive Reuse
AIA – South Carolina Chapter

2020 Citation Award – Adaptive Use
AIA – Columbia Chapter

2019 Golden Nail Award
Columbia Chamber

The Woody project image
The Woody project image
The Woody project image