•The Imperial Cleanup Project•
While in Lake City, South Carolina, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the old tobacco building is currently being renovated. Several of the construction workers spent part of their Christmas holiday participating in the project. A project that seems to be planning to turn this historical building into a meeting space for future community events.
Not a whole lot of history exists about the Imperial Tobacco Company building. It was built around 1912, that much was easy enough to find out. It contained a steam drying room, tobacco presses, an engine room, and a whole lot more. A lot of which I simply don’t understand. From what I could tell a lot has been lost to time. I got to see a small glimpse of the interior from one of the outside windows. The floors were dirt and the entire place seemed gutted. Around back I found a partially destroyed smokestack and lots of activity.
The construction group that I spoke with had been working energetically but was kind enough to take a moment to explain what was going on. Leo Garcia III and his group were in the middle of repairing the front portico when I arrived. The full extent of restoration work to be done seemed extensive. I didn’t know how they expected to accomplish so much. I was assured that his construction group was up to the task and working hard to complete the job.
It looks like GLCCDO (Greater Lake City Community Development Office) has purchased the property in the hopes of doing much more than making this into a meeting place for community events. The plan seems to be a complete retrofit of the interior. Only the exterior will be retained and renovated back to its original appearance. Parts of the building may be used for office space, art exhibits, and other rental services.
Given the decline of tobacco use over the years I suppose it is only fair that they make the best use of the building as they can. I have seen too many buildings like this one being slowly reclaimed by time. The plan seems like a good one and I was really glad I stopped by to see what was happening in Lake City. Hopefully, I will drive by again next year and be able to check out this new community center.
Location: 33.86911, -79.75629
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