A look at a Gervais Street ghost sign

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Columbia’s ghost signs have a history to tell
Ghost signs are the faded remnants of vintage advertisements, often painted on the sides or fronts of buildings, offering a window into the building’s past. Given Cola’s rich history, ghost signs can be spotted on buildings throughout downtown.

Prior to 1960 and the introduction of large format vinyl printing, branding + advertisements were often painted on buildings. In the Soda City, some of the most visible ones can still be seen on Adluh’s three 101-foot-high grain elevators + red neon sign, or on the front of Cola’s — which was home to The Royal Crown Cola Bottling Company in the 1930s.

As the stories of many of these buildings have been lost to time, today we’ll take a glance at the history of the building at the corner of Gervais and Lincoln Streets. It’s currently home to Liberty Tap Room, a bar + grill that serves traditional American cuisine.

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The Britt Clary building at the corner of Gervais and Lincon streets in the Vista. | Photo via Richland Library Digital Archives

Built in 1902 as a grocery warehouse by the E.A. Beall Company, buyers from small towns throughout SC would travel to Columbia to purchase pantry staples + “fancy groceries” from the food wholesaler. The building’s storefront housed the pharmacy of Mayor F.S. (Fort Sumter) Earle and was also the location of Columbia’s first post office sub-station. Later, the building was home to Britt-Clary, a food brokerage company based in the capital city.

DYK — downtown neighborhood Earlewood was named for the former mayor, pharmacist, and community leader?

After over 25 years of renovations and adaptive reuse projects to revitalize the Congaree Vista, the building was renovated in 2003.

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Located on the side of Liberty Tap Room is the Lincoln Street Cafe ghost sign. | Photo by COLAtoday

Here’s where we need your help — in the alley between Liberty Tap Room and Hampton Inn, there is a ghost sign for Lincoln Street Cafe. The only mention we were able to track down was that it was a short-lived restaurant located there in the mid-1990s.

Let us know if you know any more about this Vista ghost sign.

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