2017-03-17 / On Second Thought

Exploring the Irish influence on Columbia

Contributed by Historic Columbia


Seegers-Habenicht Building, c. 1850 John C. Seeger’s and Christopher C. Habenicht’s former saloon and brewery survives as quite possibly the earliest example of Columbia’s post-Civil War rebuilding. Learn about Columbia’s early saloons and breweries at Leprechauns & Libations on Friday, March 17. 
Photo courtesy of Lynn Boyd. Seegers-Habenicht Building, c. 1850 John C. Seeger’s and Christopher C. Habenicht’s former saloon and brewery survives as quite possibly the earliest example of Columbia’s post-Civil War rebuilding. Learn about Columbia’s early saloons and breweries at Leprechauns & Libations on Friday, March 17. Photo courtesy of Lynn Boyd. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the early Irish communities of South Carolina, Historic Columbia will host an Irish-themed Historic Happy Hour this Friday, March 17. Learn how Irish immigrants had the skilled labor used to build much of downtown Columbia and how modern day Columbia’s churches, state government, and infrastructure have connections to Columbia’s 19th century Irish community.

“Few people realize how important the Irish community has been in shaping Columbia’s history,” said James Quint, Historic Columbia’s director of education. “Irish laborers built Columbia’s canal and Irish stone cutters, masons, and sculptors were hired to work on the State House, an ever-present visual landmark in our city. There was even a section of Columbia called ‘New Dublin’ where much of the Irish community resided.”

Drawing heavily from J.H. Moore’s 1993 Columbia and Richland County: A South Carolina Community, 1790-1990, Historic Columbia will explore some of the important connections between the Irish and Columbia. Some interesting facts that guests will learn at the event include:

• 366 residents recorded in Columbia’s 1850 census were born outside of the United States and more than half of this number (168) were born in Ireland.

• The first permanent Catholic priest assigned to Columbia arrived in 1820.

• The original St. Peter’s sanctuary was designed by Robert Mills.

• Irish laborers dug the three-mile long Columbia Canal that was constructed between 1820-24.

“We will also discuss the breweries and saloons of Columbia’s past, which paved the way for today’s interest in Columbia’s craft beer market,” said Quint.

Dozens of images, advertisements and maps show how Columbia’s residents in the 19th century embraced the booming beer market in Columbia. From the cream ale served at Congaree Saloon in 1859 to the bottled beer being produced at Habenicht’s brewery in 1895, there were many choices for even the most selective beer drinker.

In addition, the happy hour will feature a beerthemed “Pot of Gold” scavenger hunt with a variety of prizes, including tickets to St. Pat’s in Five Points, craft beer samples, tour passes and other festive prizes. The event will be held from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Robert Mills House & Gardens located at 1616 Blanding Street. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit his toriccolumbia.org.

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