Reflections remembers the proposed construction of a modern building on the corner of Sumter and Canal Streets in 1946 to be known as the Shelor Building. The building was the only vestige of art deco-style architecture built in the city.
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Webster defines art deco as "a decorative style of the late 1920s and the late 1930s derived from cubism, based generally on geometric forms and applied to furnishings, textiles, graphic arts and was revived in the 1960s." The building provided accommodations for several of Sumter's most remembered enterprises. The information and photos used in preparing this article were obtained from The Item archives.
"J. Whitney Cunningham, one of Sumter's most recognized and respected architects who died suddenly at an early age, was charged by Shelor Building Inc., to design and build a new structure on the corner of Sumter and Canal streets at a cost of $140,000. He produced a sketch of such a structure that included eight completely furnished efficiency apartments. Construction was to have started in March but was temporarily held up due to the scarcity of building materials. The contract for the general construction of the building was awarded to Avery Lumber Co. of Sumter. The structure was assigned a housing priority number by the veterans' association. The project included the construction of five store buildings, eight business offices and eight apartments - all to be housed in the same building, one of the most modern in the state. The building would be faced with porcelain enamel steel and have automatic sprinklers for fire protection. This structure was centrally heated and partially air conditioned."
"The 19,379-square-foot, two-story building housed Eden's Super Market No. 2 which formed the main unit and covered approximately 5,000 square feet of floor space. Those who leased office space included the Sumter Merchants Association; the Credit Control Bureau; Sigmund W. Stoudenmire, public accountant; and J. Whitney Cunningham, architect. In the 1960s, it was temporary home to The Item."
The building was opened in 1948 "when wide Chevys toted girls wearing poodle skirts and boys sported ducktail haircuts and lasted through the years housing numerous businesses including doctors' offices, insurance and finance companies, the Sumter County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Pee Dee Brace and Limb Co. and a drug rehabilitation program. The 45-year-old landmark was extensively damaged in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo which tore apart much of its exterior blue-and-yellow enamel tiles which were broken or missing, leaving the building in poor condition."
"The Thomas Jackson Construction Co. located in Orangeburg was selected to begin tearing down the structure. Jackson noted that it would take about two months to remove the building which was purchased by Tuomey Regional Medical Center for $131,000. The plans were to expand their parking capability by adding an additional 70 spaces. The hospital bought the property from the estate of Henry Shelor for whom the building was named. The demolition was slow in order to keep debris and dirt to a minimum. Construction for the parking lot was scheduled to be completed in March according to Gregg Martin, vice president and spokesman for Tuomey."
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