The historic building in downtown Lake City was built between 1913 and 1920 as a men’s clothing store called L.T. Coward and Company. By 2002 the building was occupied by King’s Beauty Supply, and today it is a commercial duplex housing the Lake City Partnership Council and a restaurant known simply as the Downtown Bakery and Deli existed there for quite some time. Now, the restaurant has been rebranded as Bakers Sweets, which has a similar feel to its predecessor with expanded options.
Like many areas in Florence County, Lake City has seen revitalization efforts over the past several years. Today modern businesses occupy historic buildings, and the farming community that is transforming into a cultural hub. Along with the Downtown Bakery and Deli and the Lake City Partnership Council, the historic Bean Market has become a community and event site, and Jones-Carter Gallery occupies a former feed-and-seed warehouse. The Downtown Bakery and Deli serves up specialty treats and lunches to locals and visitors arriving for the annual ArtFields festival, a nine-day event held each spring. The Lake City Partnership Council is a non-profit community organization seeking to provide funding and resources for the betterment of Lake City.
L.T. Coward and Company is listed in the National Register as part of the Lake City Downtown Historic District:
The Lake City Downtown Historic District is a collection of sixty-two commercial buildings, forty-four of which are contributing to the character of the district, which illustrate the commercial development of the town between roughly 1910 and 1930. The district’s buildings reflect the one- and two-part commercial blocks found in towns throughout the nation, and represent stylistic influences ranging from the late Victorian period examples displaying elaborate brick corbeled cornices and pediments to the more simplified and stripped down Depression-era examples with typical low relief detailing and vertical piers. Corner stores and banks featuring either a Classical or Renaissance Revival style and the brick depot and surrounding brick warehouses help anchor the district along both the town’s Main Street and its broad intersecting railroad corridor.
Lake City once had the most diversified agricultural market in both North and South Carolina, marketing such produce as strawberries, snap peas, cucumbers, squash, limas and other assorted vegetables. From its season opening the last of April through the end of July, the city’s agricultural market sold assorted produce. From August 1st until late autumn, the area operated as the state’s second largest tobacco market. As a result of the growth of agriculture in the area in the early twentieth century, the downtown area businessmen began replacing older frame buildings with new brick structures. The success of local cash crops gave a more expendable income to the average farmer in Lake City and was extremely instrumental in changing the face of the downtown area.
Reflections on L.T. Coward and Company
Contributor Linda Brown shares, “The charming back doors the Downtown Bakery and Deli and the Lake City Partnership Council add a homey touch to the Village Green in Lake City. Although the front entrances to these businesses are on Main Street, they are also accessible for the parking lots on the Village Green, with inviting seating in case you want to eat your lunch or bakery snack outside.”
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