Elmwood Park is a residential neighborhood in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina’s revitalized downtown area, and contains one of the largest collections of early twentieth century homes remaining in the city.
In the early nineteenth century, the area north of Columbia was home to John and Sarah Taylor’s 250-acre Tickleberry Plantation. After Sarah passed away in 1842, the plantation was divided between their six children and one granddaughter. In 1852, approximately 100 acres of the plantation was converted into a cemetery when the child of a South Carolina College professor passed away. An adjacent plot from the Taylor plantation was converted to a new fairground, and hosted the South Carolina State Fair from 1856 to 1861, and again from 1869 to 1903.
By the early twentieth century, the State Fairgrounds, as well as some sparse residential and industrial buildings, occupied the area just beyond the northern border of the original planned city. The Elmwood Avenue of today was known as Upper Street. The fairgrounds and racetrack were owned by W.A. Clark, Charles Logan and the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society of South Carolina.
In 1903, State Fair moved to its present location along Bluff Road, and on September 28 of that year, Mr. Clark sold 24 acres to the Richland Real Estate Company for subdivision. This property extended from Park to Lincoln Streets, and included a piece between Lincoln and Gadsden from Chester to Confederate. This original subdivision was named “Elmwood” as designated on a plat map filed on Sept. 9, 1903; the first lot in Elmwood was sold to Ms. Annie Elizabeth Boozer on January 2, 1904.
On November 29, 1903, Charles Logan passed away. As part of his last will and testament, he bequeathed four acres of land on the north side of Elmwood Avenue, between Lincoln and Gadsden Streets to the City of Columbia to be used as a site for a school. The title would transfer upon the death of his wife, Louisa Logan.
On May 11, 1905, Louisa sold the remainder of property behind the designated school acreage, between Lincoln and Gadsden Streets to Robert Lancaster of the Richland Real Estate Company. This tract contained the old race track, and was designated as “Elmwood Park.” Billed as “The Great Event,” these lots were offered to the public at a grand auction sale held May 11 thru 13, 1905. These auction dates are generally recognized as the formal establishment of the Elmwood Park neighborhood.
In 1908, the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society began selling the former fair grounds, located to the west of Gadsden Street. The first sale of 5-1/4 acres was to R.C. Shand Engineering Company on March 23, 1908. The remainder of the land was purchased by G.A. Guignard and was subdivided into lots during May of 1909.
As the neighborhood quickly grew, the residents petitioned the City of Columbia for annexation. A referendum was held on December 10, 1907. The vote in the neighborhood occurred at the residence of Mr. John Rodgers at 2230 Lincoln Street. During the City Council meeting of December 16, 1907, the results were announced and the territory was duly declared a part of the City of Columbia. The vote in the city was 54 for and five against; in the territory, 27 for and seven against. With this vote Elmwood Park was the first expansion of the city’s territory beyond its original boundaries.