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Historical Renovations Part II: Who's That Lady

In case you missed the news, Seibels is partnering with M.B. Kahn Construction Company to complete renovations of its historic headquarters located at 1501 Lady Street. The project is currently in full swing and is scheduled for completion in 2018. As you may recall, the 1949 portion of the building has been added to the National Register of Historic Places and is now listed as a City of Columbia landmark. 

As we are right in the midst of renovations, here’s a quick project update:

  • The renovation of the sub-basement is now complete. Employees are using the sub-basement as a transition room while they wait for their assigned floors to be renovated. Once renovations are complete, the sub-basement will serve as Seibels Catastrophe Claims Center.
  • The demolition of the basement and first floor in the 1977 wing is now complete.
  • Design plans for the back lobby, including furniture and signage selection, are being reviewed.
  • Potential scope changes have been generated to repair the 1949 windows, replace the 1977 ground floor windows, and clean/seal the building exterior.
These are just a few of the main renovation highlights happening at Seibels. As mentioned in a previous post, the 1949 wing of the Seibels building will retain its historical character and features with the renovation. As an example, “Fallout Shelter” signs will undergo restoration and be returned to their original place over the stairwells leading to the basement floor.

A fun historical fact: During the period of the “Cold War” (1945 – 1990), this sign identified an area that would serve as a fallout shelter – a place of refuge and safety - in the event of a nuclear war.

During a large portion of this period of time, Columbia civil defense authorities would test sirens that were located throughout the city every Saturday at noon. While these were just test sirens, a real air-raid siren signaled in the event of a nuclear attack. If you were in a large, well-constructed building like Seibels, you would follow the Fallout Shelter signage to safety.  

A shelter would typically contain canned foods, water, medical and other supplies. More recent nuclear events that occurred at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (1979-Pennsylvania), Chernobyl (1986-Russia) and Fukushima (2011 Japan) proved that fallout shelters located near a nuclear event probably only would have delayed the inevitable outcome.

By preserving historical artifacts such as these civil defense signs, Seibels is able to honor its history and share it with others. This is just one example of how history is still alive at Seibels. Check back in for more updates on the renovations at Seibels. 


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