Reflections looks back at Carolina Coca-Cola's gift to the City of Sumter of a meeting and dining place known as the Coca-Cola Community Room. The grand opening for this facility was scheduled for November 1941. The structure was advertised as "the …
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Reflections looks back at Carolina Coca-Cola's gift to the City of Sumter of a meeting and dining place known as the Coca-Cola Community Room. The grand opening for this facility was scheduled for November 1941. The structure was advertised as "the most beautiful and best equipped building of its kind in the Carolinas, if not in the entire South." The photos and information used for this article were secured from The Sumter Item archives.
Under the direction of Mr. A. T. Heath, the architectural firm of W.E. DuRant Jr. and Francis James was retained to design and supervise the construction of the beautiful new Coca-Cola Community Room. The building consisted of a dining and meeting room; the dimensions were 36 feet wide and 60 feet long. It was designed to seat 200 people comfortably for a banquet. Tables and chairs to accommodate a capacity crowd were included in the equipment available to patrons.
Located behind the main room was a "completely electrically equipped kitchen, a ladies' lounge and a hall. The kitchen was provided with every convenience modern ingenuity could devise. A large electric range, electric refrigerator, electric frying stove and grills for steaks and chops were included in the equipment. All smoke and odors are quickly removed by a suction fan." The building was heated by steam in the winter, and air conditioning was used in the summer. The architects developed a unique concealed fluorescent lighting system. This system proved effective in providing a soft, diffused illumination. "Modern and comfortable fiber furniture and beautiful fiber rugs were in keeping with the overall beauty of the dining room. The walls and ceilings were light-colored plaster in an attractive design. The floor was of large red cement blocks in keeping with the Coca-Cola motif."
As the name implies, the Coca-Cola Community Room was for the use of the people of Sumter, according to Mr. Heath. He also noted that the "use of the room and kitchen is free to any club or civic group in Sumter. Mr. Heath will make no charge for the use of the kitchen or any of the equipment. The equipment includes china, silver, towels and linen." All of the facilities as well as the equipment comes at no charge to any organization or individual who may reserve the building for any date that is not already scheduled.
"Any caterer or individual may be engaged to prepare and serve meals. Clubs and individuals reserving the building or dinners are free to make their own arrangements for the preparation and serving meals. By eliminating all overhead incident to the preparation of a meal or a banquet," Mr. Heath said, "I see no reason why better meals at less cost cannot be obtained by clubs and individuals using the room."
Mr. Heath desired that the community take full advantage of the new facility and use it often.
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