Go On a Scavenger Hunt in Downtown Columbia

By:Kerry Egan

Date:12/1/2014

When you think of Columbia, you might think of USC's Gamecocks or the State House's lobbyists. But did you know that there are secrets to discover all over? 

Print out this page for your family, and let them search for these hidden treasures on Columbia's Main Street. Start your hunt in Boyd Plaza, right in front of the Columbia Museum of Art.

Ready, set, go!

1. Can you find the girl and the lamb playing by the wall of moving water?

The little girl and lamb are a lovely bronze sculpture called "Le Jeunesse" by Paul Silvestro, circa 1920-30. It's in the corner of the plaza, to the left of the front doors of the museum. There are several other sculptures in the plaza. See how many you can find!

Now cross Main Street and head left for just a little while.

2. Can you find Godzilla watching you?

"Godzilla" is actually a playful piece of art made from a traffic barrel! He lives in front of Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse and is the work of M. Sean McGuinness, aka "That Godzilla Guy."

Turn around and walk back toward Hampton Street. From now on, the treasure hunt will always take you in the direction of the State House and stay on Main Street, but you'll have to look on both sides of the street.

3. Can you find the chain holding the buildings together?

The chain is an enormous sculpture called "Neverbust" by the artist Blue Sky. The 25-foot steel chain hangs 10 feet high in the air between two buildings and over a public green space on the 1500 block of Main Street. As massive as it is, it was installed in secret in the early hours of a Sunday morning in 2000.

4. Now find four fierce lions. How much time will it take you?

The lions are found on the big freestanding clock in front of Sylvan's Jewelers. The gorgeous clock, installed in 1906, is quite rare. Only a handful of this model exists today, but Columbia has two of them. You can see the other on the corner of Main and Washington.

Cross Hampton Street and continue toward the State House.

5. Can you find 20 palmettos growing way up high in the air?

The Palmetto Building at 1400 Main St. is now the Sheraton Hotel. Look up above the second story windows. See the palmettos carved into the granite? The building was completed in 1913 and, at the time, was the tallest building in all of South Carolina.

6. And now, dear Dr. Watson, who is the most famous detective of all, so far from home here in Columbia?

Sherlock Holmes is here in Columbia, in a stained glass window on the side of the Palmetto Building. This was once the entrance to a now defunct restaurant, the Sherlock Holmes Pub. The restaurant is gone, but Sherlock remains.
Cross Main Street to the west side.

7. Can you discover the brave young woman who stood up to injustice?

On the corner of Washington and Main, a placard tells the awesome story of Sarah Mae Fleming, a 20-year-old woman whose civil disobedience in 1954 led to the integration of Columbia's public bus system. There are six other placards along the west side of Main Street that tell the story of Columbia's civil rights struggles.

Cross Washington Street and keep heading toward the State House.

8. Can you find the loveliest meter maid in town?

"Lovely Rita the Meter Maid," a delightful, kid-pleasing, hilarious sculpture by Matthew Kramer, is located at the southwest corner of Washington and Main — in front of the City of Columbia Parking Payment Center, of course.
Once again, cross back over to the other side of Main Street and keep heading to the capitol. 

Rita the Meter Maid on Main Street
Spend an afternoon looking for some of Columbia's hidden treasures — including Lovely Rita, who can be spotted on Main Street — on this scavenger hunt.


9. Can you find 38 tiny watery whale's tails? Or maybe they're actually liquid palm fronds?

This lovely, long foot fountain is located in the plaza at 1320 Main St. What do you think this fountain looks like?

10. As you continue your walk down Main Street, can you find 27 cherubs dancing?

Located at 1332 Main St., the Equitable Arcade Mall is an architectural and historical treasure. In the ornate carvings on the building, you'll find the dancing baby angels. The inside of the building is a breathtaking, unsung gem. It's filled mostly with artist's studios now, but was built in 1912 as Columbia's first indoor shopping mall. Make sure you take a few minutes to peek inside, and you'll wish all shopping malls today were built like this one.

11. In the little park at the corner of Lady and Main streets, can you find the windows to nowhere?

Look at the brick building that forms one border of the little park. You'll see window indentations in the wall that have been bricked and grated over — windows to nowhere.

12. Can you discover who Lady Street was named after?

It's Martha Washington, the first First Lady. On the southeast corner of Lady Street, a historical marker tells the story.

Keep walking toward the State House and cross over Gervais Street. You've made it to one of the loveliest places in all of Columbia — the gardens surrounding the State House. Now it's time to start exploring. The next few clues will be even more challenging, because you won't have any directions. You'll just need to wander through the grounds to discover these treasures.

13. Can you find the president who might have some trouble walking?

Right in front of the State House, at the base of the big steps, is a statue of George Washington with a broken cane. The cane was broken by Union forces during General Sherman's occupation of Columbia.

14. Can you find rocks from four different countries?

Rocks from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana and the Congo are found on the African-American History Monument. This monument, the first of its kind at a state capitol, explores and commemorates the history of African-Americans from the time they endured the journey to America through present-day successes.

15. Can you find the man with a walrus mustache?

A statue of Wade Hampton, a former governor of South Carolina and a Confederate cavalry leader, shows a man with some very impressive facial hair. Does it remind you of a walrus, too?

16. Can you find six stars in granite walls?

On the State House building, six bronze stars mark the places where Union cannonballs chipped away at the granite walls. Instead of repairing the damage during two subsequent renovations, it was preserved and the stars were placed.

17. Can you find a tree of steel?

The Iron Palmetto is just what it sounds like — a life-sized metal sculpture of a palmetto tree. It commemorates the South Carolinians who died during the Mexican War.

18. Can you see a giant castle across the street? 

The castle is actually a church — Trinity Cathedral. Located at 1100 Sumter St., the construction on the church began in 1845. If you can, it's well worth your time to wander the beautiful grounds, with ancient, massive trees and graves of many famous South Carolinians. The church also offers tours of the interior, though not in summer. 

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