Damon’s restaurant demolished to make room for future USC alumni center
A demolition crew on Friday tore down the old Damon’s restaurant at the corner of Senate and Lincoln streets to make way for a new alumni center for the University of South Carolina.
My Carolina Alumni Association members and school officials were on hand to see the walls come down to start construction on the new building.
“We’ve waited 160 years for our spot and we’re glad to tear it down,” alumni association Executive Director Jack Claypoole said.
Claypoole said that Damon’s was a well-known spot but that the new center will be a welcome place for the university’s more than 270,000 alumni.
The 63,000-square-foot alumni center will replace the restaurant, which was 6,200 square feet. The center will house 12 meeting and conference spaces, as well as a main ballroom that is estimated to be 10,000 square feet and to hold 500 people.
Claypoole said the meeting and ballroom spaces can be rented out to alumni and the community to host weddings, conferences and other events. Besides housing staff, the center also will offer training and professional development classes to alumni.
The total cost of the project is a little over $26 million, which Claypoole said was funded privately by donations from the alumni community.
Former students in attendance of the demolition were relieved and excited to finally get a place specifically for alumni.
Jackie Montgomery said she was thrilled about the new center. For her, Carolina is a family affair. Not only is Montgomery an alumni — having earned a masters from the university’s College of Mass Communication and Information Studies — but her husband graduated from the university’s law school. His father and grandmother are also alumni.
“USC does span generations,” Montgomery said.
Prior to obtaining the new place, alumni staff had been housed in several locations near the campus. Claypoole said that the alumni association wanted to move from a location that only housed staff to a fully-functioning center that could service former students as well.
University officials had been planning for a place for alumni for the past 10 years. Two years ago, the school bought the Damon’s property. Claypoole said that groundbreaking will take place during USC’s homecoming Nov. 1 and that the building should be ready for business by spring 2015.