Neighborhood History

Diverse in its people and the places they call home, Columbia's Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood enjoys the benefits of being born from two different visions for early suburbanization.

Some History of Hollywood-Rose Hill

The Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood is bounded by Rosewood Drive, South Marion, Heyward, and South Harden Streets. We are a diverse community composed of young families, multi-generational families and single professionals. Hollywood-Rose Hill ("HRH" for short) has 1353 residents according to the 2010 Census.

The Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood has its origins in the early twentieth century when changes in transportation led to the establishment of suburbs south of Columbia.  Its name reflects two separate planned developments, Hollywood and Rose Hill.  These suburbs, the first to be south of the original boundary (Lower Street, now Heyward), followed the slightly earlier Wales Garden project of 1912.  

In 1915 the Columbia Electric Railway, Light, and Power Company extended the street railway system up what is now the planted median of Saluda Avenue to Heyward Street.  Trolleys, however, were soon rendered obsolete by the combustion engine.  What is reputed to be the first attached automobile garage in Columbia (1924) is in Hollywood-Rose Hill.  Buses replaced the street railway in 1936.  The two planned developments and other adjacent property with an abundance of intact pre-1950 housing have had a combined presence since at least 1981 when a strong neighborhood association was formed.

Rose Hill was the earlier of the two developments.  Its name derives from the Rose Hill Green Houses, which by 1902 were where the apartment complex on South Gregg Street and Hollywood Park are now located.  The greenhouses were owned by the Stork family.  Abraham Stork had owned the land on which a large part of the Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood is located.  The Stork family home was at 1716 Heyward Street, now the site of William and Mary Court.  In recent years elderly residents and former residents could still recall the time when “the hill” was rural, and Rosewood Drive was a shady dirt road.

William D. Melton, who from 1922-1926 was president of the University of South Carolina, was one of the developers of Rose Hill, where the first lot was sold in 1914.  Rose Hill was a rectangular, two-block-wide tract south of Heyward Street between South Gregg Street and South Edisto Avenue extending as far as Kiawah Avenue.  Development was most rapid between 1920 and 1927, after completion of the electric street railway.  Although not a part of the original Rose Hill, the Meltons also owned property between South Edisto and Harden streets.  President Melton died in 1926; his widow began to sell lots in this additional area after 1928.

Rose Hill attracted a less affluent population than the earlier Wales Garden.  Bagnal Builders did a brisk business selling Aladdin Company kit homes in and adjacent to the tract.  Shipped by railroad from the Aladdin factory in Wilmington, North Carolina, the kits included all the materials needed for quick construction.  Available in a wide variety of designs, the kits provided affordable housing for the middle class (view catalog featuring neighborhood homes).  The kits could be completely finished in three months, the framing in only one day, sparking memories of houses that seemed to suddenly appear between the time children walked to school and the time they returned.

Rose Hill Presbyterian Church was built in 1922.  In the 1920s there was also a grocery store (Fullers) across the street from the church on South Saluda Avenue, and Rose Hill School stood at the corner of South Saluda and Rosewood Drive.  Another grocery store, named the “Home Store” and, at another point, “Wales Garden Cash and Carry,” was behind Fullers on South Edisto Avenue.

W. E. Hollowell’s Holly Realty Company began to develop Hollywood in 1924.  In contrast to the pattern book bungalows and kit homes from Aladdin and other companies in Rose Hill, Hollywood was characterized by larger, architect-designed homes.  South of Heyward Street and west of Rose Hill, Hollywood combined the Frederick Law Olmstead-inspired, contour-hugging, Southwood Drive with standard rectangular streets.

Documentation has been found for more than thirty homes in Hollywood that were designed by the prominent local architect J. Carroll Johnson; features on others suggest his hand.  Trained in Chicago and at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a then-almost-obligatory European study tour, Johnson designed homes and other buildings for leading South Carolinians, such as members of the Taylor and Siebels families in Columbia and the Coker family in Hartsville.  Johnson followed the revival styles popular in the period, especially the Tudor Revival, but also introduced his own interpretations of its near relative, the Norman French cottage form.  The bulk of his homes in the Hollywood neighborhood were built between 1924 and 1926.

Johnson’s own home at the corner of Heyward Street and Southwood Drive, an example of the creative blend of the Tudor Revival and the Norman French cottage form, featured the notable first attached garage.  The garage was converted to living space long ago, but when it was built others feared that the new-fangled automobile might asphyxiate the residents.  Johnson lost his home to bankruptcy in the Great Depression.  In the 1930s and 1940s, however, bungalows and duplexes would continue to fill the vacant spaces in what has become the Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood, a product of the same transportation revolution that caused those fears.
History compiled and written by Charles H. Lesser from research by Katherine Richardson distributed in John M. Bryan, City-wide Architectural Survey & Historic Preservation Plan, Columbia, South Carolina (1993); research by the Historic Columbia Foundation;
research by Andrew W. Chandler of the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, including his 1993 University of South Carolina M.A. thesis, Dialogue with the Past: J. Carroll Johnson, Architect, and the University of South Carolina1912-1956; and Maryellyn Cannizzaro,  “Aladdin Kit Homes in Hollywood-Rose Hill,” Hollywood-Rose Hill Neighborhood Newsletter, Summer 2007.


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