“Our connection to the community and the mill village is important — people have come together to celebrate in this building for more than 100 years.”
How did your business begin?
701 Whaley opened in 2008, however, the story really began when the building was originally built in 1903. At that time, the Olympia neighborhood was a bustling community of working families. William Burroughs Smith Whaley built 701 Whaley for the millworkers. It once boasted an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and a place for the community to gather and celebrate.
What differentiates your venue from others in the area?
There are three key areas that I think differentiate 701 Whaley from other event venues in Columbia. First is the history of the building. Our connection to the community and the mill village is important — people have come together to celebrate in this building for more than 100 years. The second is the environmental character of the building — lofty ceilings, expansive windows, wood floors, exposed brick and other historic details. At the same time, the building has all of the modern amenities needed to support an event space. Finally, our building is unique in the mixed use of spaces, including loft residential living spaces, four large event spaces, office space and an Art Gallery. Spaces in the building are used for such varied events as art exhibits, performance art, weddings, fund raisers, community meetings and classes, theater and even a regular Sunday service from Downtown Church.
How has the Columbia community benefited from your business?
The community has benefited from the preservation of a building that is a vital part of our collective history. The opening of 701 Whaley also expanded the capacity within our city to celebrate community events in a wide range of spaces. Our openness to include all types of vendors — from photographers, caterers, wedding and events planners, musicians, artists, florists and lighting and sound vendors — has helped support and grow local businesses in our community.