Richland County SC Cultural Resources Inventory Listing
1210-1214 Main Street
1202 Main St. Columbia SC 29201
Historic District:

Description: The Capitol Cafe building was well known for its clientele. Columbia legislators used it as a meeting place.

Historic Information
Year Built: 1871 Acres: 0.2
# Buildings: 1
Architect: Unknown
Historic Register: Yes Year: 1979 NR#: 79003361
National Historic Landmark: No

Local Historic Designation:

Year Designated:

Period of Significance: 1850-1874, 1900-1924
Cultural or Historic Significance:
Historical Topics: Architecture, Politics, Government
The Capitol Café building is the best surviving example of the Victorian commercial structures that once lined Columbia’s Main Street. The symmetrical second floor façade with cast iron balcony and window and door surround, is characteristic of late nineteenth century architecture.

Located one block away from the State House, the Capitol Café has been in the building since 1913 and is well known locally as a meeting place for legislators. Believed to have been built shortly after the War Between the States, the building was completed by 1871, although the existing double façade may have been joined after this date. Storefronts of the two story stuccoed façade have been remodeled. The segmentally arched windows have cast iron sills and cornices and the doors have identical cast iron surrounds. A balcony with cast iron railing extends across central three bays.

Over the next century, the property’s 1212 and 1214 addresses experienced a wide variety of uses with scores of businesses coming and going. Tenants included hotels, boarding houses, stores, barbershops, laundries, banks, loan offices and stores peddling drugs, liquor, candy, clothing, furniture and books. However, in 1911, what would become the building’s most enduring fixture opened at its 1210 address. The Capitol Café, a popular restaurant for legislators, prominent citizens, and every-day diners opened its doors for the first time and continued to operate at the same address throughout the rest of the twentieth century until 2002. Popular opinion has it that as much politicking and deal making occurred at the Capitol Café as it did at the State House located across Gervais Street to its south. First Citizens Bank currently owns the building, which has been vacant since the close of the Capitol Café and is in the process of determining its future use.

Listed in the National Register March 2, 1979.
Thematic Resource:
Primary Historic Use / Function: : Commerce, Trade
Secondary Historic Use / Function: Business, Restaurant
Present Uses / Functions: Commercial Occupancy: Unoccupied
Contact Organization:
Space Available: No Commercial Office Residential
Source: National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form; South Carolina Department of Archives and History (digital images); Columbia Multiple Resource Area Nomination Form (MPS008)
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Columbia, South Carolina