Bellevue Historic District
The Bellevue Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [*]
The Bellevue Historic District is a collection of 223 residential properties in the Bellevue or Cottontown neighborhood of Columbia. This includes portions of Anthony and Bull Streets, Confederate Avenue, Franklin Street, Geiger Avenue, Jefferson and Marion Streets, Summerville Avenue, and Sumter, Victoria, and Wallace Streets. The district contains 177 contributing properties. Most of the district's resources are single-family residences with some duplexes or other multi-family residences scattered throughout. The historic resources date from the early twentieth century to 1940, and are representative of that era. The majority of properties in the district were built between 1925 and 1940 and there are few post-1940 intrusions within the district boundaries.
Although several early twentieth-century house types are present, including Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival, the Craftsman/Bungalow is the most prevalent type. In general, the homes retain their historic appearance and architectural integrity. Some homes listed as contributing properties in the district have been clad in synthetic siding, but done so in a way that does not detract from the building's historic appearance.
The neighborhood's streetscapes are also largely unaltered. Old hardwoods line Bellevue's avenues, with branches creating an arched canopy overhead. In the 1970s, the city of Columbia added islands in some intersections, designed to slow the speed of vehicles crossing through the neighborhood. These islands have been landscaped by neighborhood residents to blend with the surrounding lawns and tree-lined streets.
The Bellevue Historic District is significant for its high concentration of intact examples of early twentieth-century residential architecture placed among intact historic streetscapes. It is an intact example of one of the earliest planned suburban residential neighborhoods in Columbia whose appearance has been largely unaltered by the passage of time. As one of the earliest suburban areas annexed into the city of Columbia, Bellevue played an important role in the early expansion of the capital city beyond its original northern boundary.
Bellevue, today commonly known as "Cottontown," is an early twentieth-century downtown Columbia suburb located north of Elmwood Avenue, extending roughly north to Anthony Street, west to Sumter Street and east to Bull Street. The neighborhood sits on land once owned by the Wallace family, who, in ca.1893, sold to the state property which is now the S.C. State Hospital campus.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the area near the Wallace tract was a bustling commercial district. The intersection of Main and Upper (later Elmwood) Streets was known as Cotton Town, named after the cotton storage warehouses that operated there. Grocery wholesale and retail establishments also operated in the area.
In 1896, the city expanded the streetcar line, extending the Main Street line north of Upper Street out to Hyatt Park, where a new pavilion and casino were transforming the areas north of the city limits into a center for social activity and recreation. About this time, Cotton Town assumed a new name befitting the area's more elegant image, "Bellevue Springs."
In the 1890s investors had achieved some success with a new planned residential community called "Shandon." The idea that a large parcel of land could be subdivided into streets and lots, and those lots marketed under a unifying community theme, was creating a thriving new neighborhood south of the city. A combination of factors existed in the area north of the city that could make the same type of venture successful: a thriving business district, convenient to social and recreational outlets, and easy access to public transportation.
In 1902, William Wallace registered a plat for the first suburban development on his property: sixteen lots facing Bull Street.
By 1912, lots were being marketed under the neighborhood's new name, "Bellevue." The new community was growing quickly, with new lots being surveyed between Elmwood, Main, Franklin and Bull Streets. Between 1919 and 1927, the neighborhood expanded northward to Columbia Avenue, later changed to Anthony Avenue.
In March 1913, Bellevue became one of the earliest suburban communities, after Elmwood Park, to be annexed into the city of Columbia. Communities including North Columbia, Waverly, South Waverly and Shandon were annexed later in the same year.
Bryan, John M. and Associates, City-wide Architectural Survey and Historic Preservation Plan: Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia: South Carolina Department of Archives and History and the City of Columbia, 1993.
Moore, John Hammond, Columbia and Richland County: A South Carolina Community, 1740-1990. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993.
Selby, Julian A., Memorabilia and Anecdotal Reminiscences of Columbia, S.C. Columbia: The R.L. Bryan Co., 1905
[*] Sox, C. Russell Jr. (North Main St Area Residents Assoc.), Bellevue Historic District, 1997, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.