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  • New Life for Old Buildings

    Last week, while teaching at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, a student asked If had ever been to the “lunatic asylum.”

    When I sought clarification — it was at the end of the morning lecture, after all — the student noted it was the site of the former South Carolina Lunatic Asylum, the 181-acre stretch of land about a mile from Columbia’s central business district.

    Built in the 1820s and gradually expanded throughout the 19th century, the sprawling site was closed and completely abandoned more than two decades ago. But like other adaptive reuse projects that have become popular in recent years, such as the former American Tobacco Company complex in Durham and the site of the D.C. prison in Lorton, this sprawling complex is going through a rebirth of its own.

    Now known as the BullStreet District, the still developing site houses Segra Park, a minor-league baseball stadium baseball park, as well as a 108,000-square-foot office building and space for various retail stores.

    The centerpiece of the project is the renovation of the Babcock Building, constructed in the mid 1880s and now in the decaying state you see here. The building, which is more than 200,000 square feet, eventually is scheduled to be converted in to more than 200 apartments.

    I wasn’t able to go into the building — no trespassing signs are everywhere and security is much tighter than it was in years past — but took these shots to provide another demonstration in visual storytelling for the students.

    Hope you enjoy them.

    To see more photos from this project, go to my Facebook album here.