Springer Opera House (103 E 10th Street)
The State Theater of Georgia was built in 1871 by Francis Joseph Springer. The building originally had a grocery store and bar on the corner, but in the early 1900s the Springer Hotel above was opened and the theater changed. The recent $11 million restoration is the largest one since the Springer was saved from the wrecking ball in 1964. It has been brought back to its Victorian look of the 1900s.
The Rankin Arts Center (1004 Broadway)
The northeast corner of 10th Street and Broadway was purchased in the 1828 lot auction for $1,250.00. It was originally known as the Columbus Hotel, but changed to the Rankin Hotel in the late 1800s. The Rankin was a social center in Columbus during the 1890s. It is now restored as executive suites, offices, and classrooms for the Performing Arts Center and CSU.
Iron Bank Coffee (6 11th Street)
Local industrialists established the Georgia Home Insurance Company in the 1850’s. This bank building, later known as First National Bank, was a symbol of the town’s commercial and industrial wealth. The façade, designed by Samuel Hatcher, was cast in Pittsburgh, PA. Construction was started prior to the Civil War, but the builders had to hide the cast iron parts during the war. Construction was completed after 1865.
CB&T (1019 Broadway)
The company began in 1888 with an encounter between a worker and an executive at a Columbus, GA textile mill. The worker’s dress became tangled in factory machinery, and money she had sewn into her hem spilled onto the floor. Explaining she felt this was the safest place to keep her savings, a mill executive offered instead to secure her money in the mill safe and pay her interest. That same service was soon offered to all the workers, and those deposits marked the beginning of Synovus.
On May 31, 1930, the Columbus Savings Bank and Third National Bank were merged, and have continued under the name of the Columbus Bank and Trust Company to the present date. The company built a comprehensive financial services company that today operates in five states across the Southeast and will officially change its name to Synovus in 2018.
CSU Nursing School (17 12th Street)
Completed in 1931, the Ledger-Enquirer Building was constructed by the R.W. Page Corp. It was designed by Columbus architecture firm of Smith and Biggers and is the finest example of the Mediterranean Revival style in Columbus.
Mirabeau B. Lamar established the paper, The Columbus Enquirer, in 1828 when Columbus was founded. Lamar left Columbus and went on to become the Second President of the Republic of Texas. The Ledger was created as a second daily paper for the community in 1886. The two dailies would join under R.W. Page. The Ledger-Enquirer remained in this location until 2015.
Eagle and Phenix Mill Complex (1201 Front Avenue)
Originally named the Eagle Mill, this site provided supplies for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Eagle Mill was burned in Wilson’s Raid on Columbus April 16-17, 1865. The owner, William H. Young, rebuilt the mill immediately and added Phenix to the name to represent the mill rising from the ashes. It was one of the largest mills in the south and provided jobs in Columbus until 2003. It has been adaptively re-used for condominiums, restaurant space, and apartments.
Subway (1123 Broadway)
Dr. John S. Pemberton, physician, pharmacist, and manufacturing chemist, was one of many druggists in Columbus. This was the site of one of his drugstores in town. Dr. Pemberton was a partner in six firms from 1857-1869. All of his drug stores had a soda fountain dispensing sparkling drinks for ten fruit extracts with soda water. His French Wine of Coca, later known as Coca-Cola, was marketed as a tonic and a soda fountain drink. The name would officially change to Coca-Cola when Dr. Pemberton moved his family to Atlanta in 1869.
Chili Thai (19 West 10th Street)
In 1905, a new cola drink was originated in the basement of the wholesale grocery business at this location, where Claud A. Hatcher, a pharmacist, began formulating beverages to please thirsty customers. His concoctions included Royal Crown Ginger Ale, Cream Soda, and various Melo fruit drinks. As these products gained popularity, Hatcher created Union Bottling Works and in 1911 moved the business to the corner of 10th Street and 9th Avenue. Another flavor, Chero Cola, was introduced in 1912, and by 1925 there were several hundred franchised plants throughout the South and into the Midwest.
Nehi, a line of fruit-flavored soft drinks known to be “Knee High” great in flavor, was introduced in 1924. Royal Crown Cola – soon to be nicknamed RC Cola – was launched in 1934, becoming the flagship brand. RC was the first cola produced in cans, the first local company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and first to produce a calorie-free cola, Diet Rite, in 1962. Today, RC Cola continues to be sold in more than 50 countries.
Columbus Convention and Trade Center (801 Front Avenue)
The Iron works served Columbus with jobs, iron products, the Confederate Naval Shipyard, and supplies for the Confederacy during the Civil War. They also produced the first ice machines, steam engines and boilers that were manufactured for Confederate Navy Gunboats, as well as cannons for the Confederate Army.
It sits at the original site of the steam boat landing where supplies came up and down river (from Apalachicola). It was burned during Wilson’s Raid on Columbus April 16-17, 1865. It was rebuilt and operated until the late 1960’s. It served an economic power house for this city and the State of Georgia. The complex became the Columbus Convention and Trade Center in 1979 and is one of Columbus’ first examples of adaptive re-use.
Marriott Hotel (800 Front Avenue)
George Waldo Woodruff established Empire Mills in 1861. The mill ran night and day during the Civil War and was spared in 1865 when Union Troops burned all non-food producing industry in the city. By 1887, it was the largest meal and flour mill in the South, operating 36 roller mills with a capacity of 600 barrels of flour per day. Empire also produced Graham flour, bran, grits, and cornmeal – all ground on eight runs of horizontal stones, some of which are displayed on this site.
The mill was also an early example of adaptive re-use. It was renovated and expanded in 1980 to become a convention hotel for the new Columbus Convention and Trade Center (historic Iron Works) across the street.