This article originally appeared in The Post & Courier.
Before the flames rose over South Carolina’s Capital City early Saturday morning, the Babcock Building with its garnet cupola stood in polarity —a notable part of Columbia’s skyline but for some a traumatic reminder of historic abuse and neglect.
“It’s such a prominent part of the city,” said Historic Columbia preservationist John Sherrer. “It’s something people see as soon as they get here when coming in on the interstate. It’s definitely going to take a little getting used to.”
The 19th century building’s recent history has been as an architectural landmark that fell into disrepair after being abandoned before becoming the focus for the massive BullStreet District redevelopment project to turn nearly 200 acres of mostly unused property into a new destination for residents, shoppers, workers and baseball fans.
But the bulk of its history was the state’s main mental hospital.