Work begins on historic Ensor Building at BullStreet

First floor to feature restaurant and hospitality use, with office space on upper floor

Work has begun on renovations of the historic Ensor Building at BullStreet, developers announced Tuesday.

The Ensor Building at BullStreet (Photo provided)

The building, located between Spirit Communications Park and the First Base Building in the 181-acre BullStreet neighborhood in downtown Columbia, will feature restaurant/hospitality space on the first floor, including a large outdoor patio overlooking the ballpark entrance plaza, and office space on the upper floor.

Master developer Hughes Development Corp. is working with architects Studio 2LR and Buchanan Construction to upfit the building, preserving historic elements while adding modern features.

“The Ensor Building was completed in 1939 and served as a research laboratory for the Ensor Research Foundation,” noted Lara Hammond in her history of the Ensor Building, written as part of USC’s “Digitizing Bull Street” initiative.

“The building was named after Joshua Fulton Ensor, who was the second superintendent of the campus from 1870 to 1877. The intentions of the Ensor Research Foundation, founded in 1945, from the beginning were to make improvements in mental health patients and health in general.”

“The Ensor Building has its roots in innovation and research, and we are excited to be reviving this emblematic structure in keeping with the innovation theme here at BullStreet,” said developer Robert Hughes. “The first floor, with its sizable interior and huge outdoor patio, is a phenomenal opportunity for guests to have a unique dining experience right on the Spirit Communications Park plaza at the center of BullStreet.”

The two-story brick building was built in the neoclassical style, with Doric plinths and capitals and a rounded arch over the front door. Each of the two floors will offer approximately 3,800 square feet of usable space.

Which tenants will occupy the building is yet to be announced.

“As is consistent with our development strategy, our tenants make their own announcements,” noted Hughes. “When restaurant and office tenants are ready to announce, they will do so on a schedule that is optimal for them.”

“I can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed working with Hughes Development Corporation on the Bakery Building, and we are excited to get started with renovations at the Ensor Building,” stated Davis Buchanan, head of Buchanan Construction Services. “What a grand old lady Ensor is – and when finished, she’ll be a beautiful destination. It’s thrilling to be a part of what is happening in the BullStreet development.”

The Ensor Building at BullStreet is located at 2180 Boyce St., just off Bull Street, on the sprawling grounds of the former state mental hospital.

The entire BullStreet redevelopment is currently on a 20-year time frame for completion, and is expected to create an annual economic impact of around $1.2 billion.

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