Modern photo of Ballenger Building, intersection of S. 9th St. (front) & Cherry St. (side)
2003 photo of southeast corner of Ballenger Building while undergoing renovation (Sheals)
2003 photo, detail of front facade before renovation of storefront (Sheals)
Backstory and Context
The Ballenger Building began in 1892 as G. F. Troxell's furniture store on the corner of S. Ninth and Cherry streets. The building was owned by the Ballenger Stone and Implement Company. The basement of the building in 1895 contained a soda water bottling business, to take advantage of a natural spring which had occupied this location. Before the Ballenger company bought the property, a Frenchman named Rene Butel operated a small bottling plant in this spot, producing soda water, birch beer, ginger ale, and other drinks.
The rear ell of the building, from a 1904 expansion, has its own entrance and address (811 Cherry Street). since the ground level slopes down along Cherry, the third level of the ell is the same level as the second story of the main block along S. Ninth. The street level of the ell is the basement level of the main block. The building features limestone foundations and brick walls. Troxell's furniture store moved to another downtown location by 1909, when this building was the furniture store of S. M. Meyers. By 1917, the Meyers furniture store was gone and Troxell's was back in this location.
By the early 1920s, the owners of the building were the Ballenger and Stone Realty Company. After the building was sold to the Taylor Company in 1927, a major remodeling episode took place in 1928. Afterwards, the building housed three levels of furniture; Taylor also had purchased the Troxell furniture company. By the early 1930s, the furniture company was located only in the rear ell of the building; the furniture store remained on this Cherry Street location into the 1940s. By 1933, the main, front part of the building contained a Safeway grocery store. Safeway opened in Columbia in another location nearby on N. Eighth Street in 1932, until they moved to the S. Ninth Street Ballenger Building the following year. This was the only Safeway store in all of Columbia until the early 1950s. The tenancy of Safeway in the Ballenger Building ended in the early 1950s, when they moved to a larger, freestanding structure west of the commercial district.
The next tenants of the Ballenger building, the H. R. Muelller Florist shop, remodeled the store front and the interior before opening in 1952. The florist shop occupied the main spot on S. Ninth for several decades. The second story housed offices. The 1980s brought more remodeling of the storefront and the introduction of a restaurant tenant on the ground floor. It continued to house restaurants into the twenty-first century. The 2003-2004 remodeling aimed to install a storefront more in keeping with the 1930s architectural style and to return the ground floor to its original open floor plan. The building currently houses legal and other business offices on the second floor and Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company on the ground floor of the S. Ninth Street original building. Kaldi's has been around since 1994 but moved into the space in the Ballenger Building in 2007. The coffee shop is popular with the local college crowd, and offers espresso, sustainable brews, and fruit smoothies as their specialties.
The Ballenger Building, NRHP-listed in 2004, is significant in local commerce as one of the longest continually-occupied commercial structures in downtown Columbia. It also is significant as an example of the two-part commercial block, the typical commercial building in downtown. The Ballenger Building illustrates the architectural decorative use of terra cotta, popular from the 1910s into the 1930s.
Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company. Columbia, Kaldi's Coffee. January 1st 2020. Accessed March 18th 2020. https://kaldiscoffee.com/pages/location-columbia.
Sheals, Debbie. NRHP Nomination Form for Ballenger Building. National Register. Washington, DC. National Par Service, 2003.