Thursday, December 20, 2018

Bryce's Corner

by Paul Armstrong
August 5, 2018
modified December 30, 2018
modified March 19, 2019

Robert Campbell Bryce
Photo courtesy of Linda Jahraus
The southwest corner of Main and Blanding Streets in Columbia was known as "Bryce's Corner" before and after the Civil War. Scottish born Robert Bryce inherited the property where his father, John, built a brick building in 1824. Bryce ran a grocery and general merchandise store in the building and rented other space for retail and boarding.  The building was destroyed during the occupation of Columbia by the Union army in February of 1865 and Bryce rebuilt quickly.  He had the new brick building completed by September of 1865, advertised two offices for rent, and opened a new store, Robert Bryce and Son, which sold groceries, hardware, etc.  The property was sold in a bankruptcy sale in 1869 and Robert Bryce moved to Spartanburg where he died on Nov 13, 1874. 

From 1869 until 1926, the primary occupants of the building were grocers including Richard Allen, the Hendrix family, Robert A Young, Michael Commerford, and W T Martin.  During this time other businesses operated in other parts of the building.  These included a shoe store, a liquor store, a dressmaker, loan brokers, and a dentist.

Irish immigrant, Richard Allen (c.1830-1870), purchased the property in 1869 and remodeled or rebuilt the structure.  According to the Daily Phoenix, by October, Allen had “completed two handsome two-story buildings”.   Allen occupied the first floor of the corner building for his grocery business while he and his wife, Elizabeth, and their children resided on the second floor.  On April 8, 1870, Richard Allen died, and the property was sold at an estate sale, but Elizabeth and their children continued to reside in the building until 1901. 

Joseph Austin Hendrix (1819-1895) and Solomon Nicholas Hendrix (1829-1906) were brothers from Lexington County who married sisters Elizabeth Feaster and Irene Feaster.  By 1868, Joseph and Solomon had moved to Columbia and were running a grocery store, J A Hendrix & Bro, on Assembly Street.  After a fire destroyed the Assembly Street store, they moved the store and reopened at the southwest corner of Main and Blanding on July 6, 1870.  Joseph left the retail grocery business in the late 1870s. Solomon changed the name to S N Hendrix and operated at this location until sometime in the mid-1880s when he moved the store to the east side of the 1500 block of Main Street. 

William Tribue Martin (1840-1904) ran a retail and wholesale grocery business at 1649 Main Street from the mid-1880s until 1902 when he moved his business to a new brick complex he built at 1406-1408 Assembly Street and focused on wholesale groceries. Martin served on the boards of directors of the Bank of Columbia, the Columbia and Georgetown Steamboat Company, and the Columbia, Newberry & Laurens Railroad. He also represented Richland County at the state Democratic Convention in 1896. In addition to properties in Columbia, Martin owned farms in Lexington and Richland Counties as well as in NC. Shortly before his death in 1904, he sold his farm property along lower Assembly Street and Bluff Road to be used by the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society of South Carolina as the new grounds for the State Fair.

In 1904, Edwin Tyre Hendrix (1962-1939) bought his father-in-law’s grocery business, S N Hendrix, and renamed it E T Hendrix.  He moved the store back to 1649 Main in 1906.  Edwin’s son, Solomon E “Chick” Hendrix (1888-1940) joined the business in 1908.  When Edwin left the business to pursue other interests in 1913, Chick incorporated under the name Hendrix, Inc. and operated under this name until the corporation went bankrupt in 1924.  The store closed on November 5, 1924, but was reopened under a new corporation, Hendrix & Co. in December of that same year.  Financial troubles hit again two years later, and the Hendrix family grocery business was closed for good in 1926.

Ruff Hardware in 1969
Photo from Columbia Record
Ruff Hardware was organized in 1909 at 1714 Main Street by Thomas Douglass Ruff (1875-1930), a native of Fairfield County, SC.  In September of 1928, Ruff Hardware moved to 1649 Main Street and remodeled the building which they occupied for 50 years.  At its pinnacle in the mid 1950’s, the Ruff Hardware Company operated stores on Main Street, Five Points, and Parkland Shopping Center in Cayce, as well as a warehouse in Seaboard Park. In 1978, the company liquidated its stock and went out of business.

Hennessey's in 2011
Courtesy of
The Forum Restaurant operated at this location from 1980 to 1982.  Then, beginning in 1983, Hennessey’s Restaurant served the public from this location for 28 years, closing in November of 2011.  The building was purchased in 2016 by Main & Blanding, LLC who are restoring and modifying the building to accommodate multiple businesses. The first enterprise in the renovated building will be Hendrix which plans to open a restaurant and rooftop bar in late 2018.

  • “Assignee’s Sale of Real Estate.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, SC), May 23, 1869, page 4.
  • “Auction Sale.” The State (Columbia, SC), December 19, 1926, page 29.
  • “Brick Offices to Rent.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, SC), September 21, 1865, page 1.
  • “Crumbs.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, SC), October 31, 1869, page 2.
  • “Death of a Former Resident.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, SC), November 17, 1874, page 3.
  • “Good Things to Eat.” The State (Columbia, SC), September 5, 1897, page 5.
  • “Hendrix & Company Granted a Charter.” Columbia Record (Columbia, SC), Dec 24, 1924, page 2.
  • “Hendrix to Open New Food Store.” The State (Columbia, SC), November 6, 1924, page 10.
  • Jackson, John B. Map of Columbia, SC from An Actual Survey by Messrs Arthur and Moore Drawn by John B Jackson about 1850. Made from a copy of the original. Scale [1”=440’]. Columbia, SC: Tomlinson Engineering Company, 1931. (accessed March 2, 2018)
  • “Mr William T Martin is Dead.” The State (Columbia, SC), February 28, 1904, page 16.
  • “New Ruff Hardware Opens.” The State (Columbia, SC), April 26, 1956, page 5-C.
  • “No Lull Yet in the City’s Upbuilding.” The State (Columbia, SC), January 27, 1902, page 8.
  • “Over a Quarter of a Century.” Columbia Record Sesqui-Centennial Edition (Columbia, SC), March 21, 1936, page 5.
  • "Over 60 Years of Service to South Carolinians." Columbia Record Tricentenial Edition (Columbia, SC), September 14, 1969, page 15.
  • "Private Boarding House." Columbia Telescope (Columbia, SC), November 24, 1824, page 4.
  • “Prosperity Unabated in S Carolina.” Columbia Record (Columbia, SC), September 8, 1913, page 2.
  • Scott, Edwin. Random Recollections of a Long Life – 1806-1876. Columbia, SC: Charles A Calvo, Jr, 1884, page 52.
  • University of South Carolina Libraries. "Columbia, SC City Directories." South Carolina Digital Library. (accessed October 2, 2018)
  • “Removal.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia SC), July 12, 1870, page 3.
  • “Ruff Hardware Company Celebrates Formal Opening of Handsome New Store.” The State (Columbia, SC), September 13, 1928, page 15.
  • “Ruff Hardware Co Liquidation Sale.” The State (Columbia, SC), September 14, 1978, page 6-A.
  • “Sheriff’s Sale.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia SC), June 7, 1870, page 3.
  • “The Fire.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia SC), July 6, 1870, page 2.


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