Historic home set to have new tenants as soon as next month

The W.B. Smith Whaley house was built in 1892 and then became the Dunbar Funeral Home in 1924.

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)–The historic home on the corner of Gervais Street and Pickens Street in downtown Columbia will soon have new tenants.

The W.B. Smith Whaley House was built in 1892 and then became the Dunbar Funeral Home in 1924.

The home is currently being renovated into six apartments and coffee shop by Mashburn Construction.

The site’s Preservation Consultant, Janie Campbell, says the new use of the property has to keep its historic nature.

“It had to retain the character defining features so again the parlors, the main staircase, the windows, the exterior materials, so all of that comes into play. All of the fireplaces and all of the different moldings throughout the house show its age and how it’s changed over time as it was added to a couple of times throughout its lifespan,” says Campbell.

Mashburn Construction’s site manager Lee Gaymon says Mashburn has found a niche in renovating historic buildings, and knows this one in particular is important to many residents in Columbia.

“I think most people that have lived in Columbia for a long time know the history of the house. A lot of people have had loved ones who have had funerals in this house, so people know the house. And I think everybody is excited to see this project completed,” says Gaymon.

While the kitchens will be a little more contemporary, the hardwood floors, many of the bathroom fixtures, and much of the overall floor plan, will remain in tact.

“So there was a separate garage on the property that is no longer extant but that is where they kept all of the hearses. I think the 2nd floor was used as showrooms for caskets, but all of the embalming was done here as far as I know. There was a crematorium on site. Funerals were held here. So I think it was a pretty full service business,” says Campbell.

And would the Whaleys and Dunbars be happy with the new tenants?

“I think they would be really excited. I think Whaley would love that it’s turning to residential use. I think Dunbar would be happy that it’s being put back in place after they vacated it. So I think everyone in Columbia is excited to see it come back to life,” says Campbell.

Categories: Local News, Richland