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Big Apple — Columbia, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Richland County  |  Big Apple

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Big Apple

Columbia‘s Big Apple has two interesting but diverse histories. Originally built as the House of Peace Synagogue between 1907 and 1910, this two-story building served as a place of worship for the Beth Shalom Congregation for almost 30 years. The congregation outgrew the building in 1935, and it was sold strictly on the condition that it would never again be used as a synagogue.

Big Apple Richland County

Ann Helms of Spartanburg, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Its new owners took that condition to heart! By 1936 the building had been transformed into one of South Carolina’s most popular African-American night clubs. It was here that locals started the dance craze that would soon be referred to as the “Big Apple.” The club quickly adopted the moniker and the new dance spread throughout the nation. (See a video of the Big Apple dance.)

Big Apple Peace Synagogue

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In the 1980s, the Big Apple was moved from its original location at 1318 Park Street to the corner of Hampton and Park streets and was used as a restaurant. Purchased by the Historic Columbia Foundation in 1993, it hosted weddings and events until it was purchased by Richard Durlach and Breedlove in August of 2015for use as an arts venue. Although the building has undergone extensive renovations, it retains many of its original features such as the domed ceiling, horseshoe arches, and stained glass windows.

Big Apple Columbia

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Big Apple

David Asiamah of Columbia © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Big Apple is listed in the National Register as the House of Peace Synagogue:

(The Big Apple) The structure located at 1318 Park Street was constructed between 1907 and 1910 as a Jewish Synagogue. Its interior architecture, including a notable recessed dome and a balcony, reflect its original function. However, the structure gained its greatest notoriety when used in the 1930s as a black nightclub. During that time, students from the nearby University of South Carolina came to observe dancers at “The Big Apple Club.” The dance, known as the Big Apple, became extremely popular and in 1937 a group of twenty-three from the Big Apple Club appeared in New York before touring the United States. After the nightclub closed, the building became a place of business and was then left vacant until its recent restoration. It is a two-story wooden edifice set upon a raised brick basement. Its gable roof is covered by tin. The structure features a projecting central entrance bay, flanked by wooden pilasters and sidelights, and surmounted by a large arch. On each side of the entrance are tall narrow windows with horseshoe arches. The side facades feature pedimented gables with a roundel.

Reflections on the Big Apple

Anne McConnell Westbury of Columbia recalls: “The House of Peace Synagogue was a great place to eat lunch in the 1980s.”

Add your own reflections here.

Big Apple Info

Address: 1000 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29201
GPS Coordinates: 34.004532,-81.037663
Website: http://www.historiccolumbia.org/rent-a-venue/the-big-apple

Big Apple Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

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7 Comments about Big Apple

SCIWAY says:
March 3rd, 2017 at 11:37 am

Try this email: badc.columbia@gmail.com Hopefully, someone there can help you!

Cleopatra Counts says:
March 3rd, 2017 at 11:29 am

I would like to know pricing on this venue for a wedding on 9/8/2018…Thank you.

SCIWAY says:
October 17th, 2014 at 8:06 am

Hi, Terry. Below your comment is a website that should put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions about renting the Big Apple. Best of luck!

Rene Terry says:
October 16th, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I was wanting to see about the charge for renting out building for a special occasion. Thank You.

SCIWAY says:
July 1st, 2014 at 8:50 am

Here is a website that hopefully can answer your questions about events at the Big Apple:

pat andrew says:
June 30th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

I would like price for use of the building. Do you have to use a certain caterer? What about the bar? Thanks. Call 803 608-0982. Jazz Concert for the summer.

Tamika Walker-Samon says:
December 28th, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I am interested in receiving rental information as well as historical information regarding the original owners of this “Big Apple” club. Very interesting story on your website.


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