(Columbia). When completed in 1913 at a cost of $300,000, the Palmetto Building in Columbia was the tallest building in the Carolinas and one of the most stylish skyscrapers in the South. Its sleek, vertical form represented the cutting edge of architectural design and added a sense of metropolitan sophistication to the skyline of South Carolina’s capital city. In a reference to the celebrated skyscraper that had been finished earlier the same year in New York City, the Columbia Record described the Palmetto Building as the “‘Woolworth’ Building of South Carolina.” Standing at the corner of Main and Washington Streets directly opposite Columbia’s first skyscraper, the National Loan and Exchange Bank Building (1903), the Palmetto Building towered over the central business district and immediately became one of the city’s most prestigious business addresses.
Designed by the New York architect Julius Harder for the Palmetto National Bank, the Palmetto Building is fifteen stories tall and is built of steel-frame construction on a U-shaped plan. The limestone base and glazed terra cotta facades feature Gothic-revival styling, foliated pilasters and entablatures, and a specially designed palmetto tree motif. The building culminates in a crown comprised of banded Gothic arches, a handsome copper cornice, and a stone parapet. The elaborately decorated ground-floor banking room features a mosaic tile floor with a palmetto tree inlay. In its form and ornamentation, the Palmetto Building reflects the strong beaux arts influence that was common among skyscraper designs of the era, and it continues to stand among Columbia’s most recognizable landmarks. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
“Architect Harder Describes Palmetto Building,” Columbia Record, December 21, 1913.