701 Whaley is a restored historic building and is a thriving community center that boasts unique event rental spaces, 701 Center for Contemporary Art, office suites, live/work lofts, and thehallway:communityart, a showcase for local artists.
The Grand Hall is a spacious 6,000 square feet with large windows, the Grand Staircase, a glass storefront, original columns and aged, distinctive walls. Inviting. Flexible. One of a kind.
The Olympia Room upstairs boasts hardwood floors, tall windows and original turnbuckle queen trusses and at 2000 square feet, is a more intimate space for rehearsal dinners, ceremonies, parties or acoustic events.
The Granby Room is a street level glass storefront space with two double door entrances and raw character of its own. It is approximately 2600 square feet.
The Market is an open room with over 3700 square feet and an additional 800 feet of covered porch. The four stately wood garage doors can be opened up (weather permitting) so you can enjoy a cocktail or a cigar on the festively lit porch.
Our spaces are a full day rental from 10am-12am except on Sundays.
Whether you’re looking for a warm intimate setting for 50 or a spacious, distinctive venue for 1000, 701 Whaley can offer you options. View the Gallery page for photos of our great spaces.
701 Whaley was built in Columbia, SC in 1903 as the company store for the area’s five textile mills. By 1909, it had quickly become a community center for the mill workers and everybody just called it “The Y”. The site included a bowling alley, barber shop, library, auditorium, gymnasium, pool, and dance hall. With dances every Friday night, a movie on Saturdays, basketball and billiards, socials and civility, this cornerstone of the community was hopping with activity for several decades. At one time, billiards were played for 2 1/2 cents a cue, while bowling was 5 cents a game and a moving picture show cost 10 cents.
In 1909, The State paper, when referring to 701 Whaley, stated: “Probably the most interesting place to visitors in Columbia is the Pacific Mills Community, and the Community Building, and when everything is considered, it is small wonder that this community, especially the Olympia Village, is so close-knit and proud. The community is really a small city in itself…” The building served many purposes until the 1980’s when textile jobs moved away.
When a large section of roof caved in during the early 2000’s, the City of Columbia condemned the building and was on the brink of tearing it down. In 2006, Richard Burts, who has years of experience developing local real estate and is an active leader in the business community, Robert Lewis, whose expertise is in the renovation of historic buildings, along with Bob McConnell, a California investor, purchased the structure with the goal of preserving and restoring this iconic building to its original appearance.
Today, 701 Whaley is a beautiful 55,000 square-foot building on the National Register of Historic Places and a great example of giving an old building new life through adaptive use. 701 Whaley is a thriving venue that boasts the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, multiple unique event spaces, office studios, live/work lofts and the hallway:communityart – a showcase for local artists.
The Pool, built in 1918 and closed sometime in the 1940s, reopened in 2022 as a unique event space. It has been beautifully renovated with a glass floor, and has soaring windows, stunning skylights, and hand-laid mosaic tiles.
Read about the open house in the Columbia Star.
Video produced by Lee Ann Kornegay.