On the National Register of Historic Places, what was known as the Babcock Building, with its famous raised cupola and 12-sided dome, became a notable part of Columbia’s downtown skyline after construction began in 1857. Video of the fire showed that dome and cupola slide off the burning structure, collapsing into the inferno below. The new building in the multistructure complex was designed by George E. Walker, a Charleston civil engineer and architect who came to Columbia in 1854 as the constructing architect for the Statehouse, becoming a resident of the city, according to the South Carolina Historical Society.
The central portion, in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, with an end-gabled core roof surmounted by what would become its iconic dome, was designed by Pennsylvania architect Samuel Sloan, according to the state Department of Archives and History.
The building was named for Dr. James Woods Babcock, superintendent of the South Carolina State Hospital from 1891 to 1914.
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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; The Associated Press, Meg Kinnard