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Five Points Association Presents: The Unveiling of Centennial Plaza, Featuring a Tribute to Colonel Jack Van Loan

COLUMBIA, S.C. (November 4, 2016) – Five Points, Columbia’s original village neighborhood, has begun its next 100 years with the continuation of Centennial projects and beautification efforts in 2016. The Five Points Association and its gracious partners within the community have collaborated on the construction of Five Points’ Centennial Plaza, located at the intersection of Blossom Street, Congaree and Santee Avenues, since early 2015. The Five Points Association will now join the City of Columbia and other honored guests to officially unveil the Centennial Plaza in a ceremony on Friday, November 11th, 2016.

The completion of the Centennial Plaza will culminate efforts of Five Points’ Centennial Year, and will perpetuate the rich history of the village neighborhood as the third water feature to be built in its footprint since the mid 1990’s.  This beautification effort and tourism initiative would not have been possible without the generous support of the City of Columbia, Richland County, the Columbia Development Corporation, the Columbia Rotary Club, TD Bank, and many others.


Ceremony Information:

  • Date: Friday, November 11th, 2016
  • Time: 3:00pm
  • Location: Intersection of Blossom Street, Congaree and Santee Avenues
  • Free and open to the public

*Please note, limited seating will be available

Ceremony Highlights:

  • Unveiling of Five Points’ third water feature


    Col. Jack Van Loan

  • Unveiling of tribute to Col. Jack Van Loan
  • Speeches by: The Honorable Joe Wilson, The Honorable John Courson, The Honorable Steve Benjamin, DOT Commissioner John Hardee, The Honorable Seth Rose and Five Points Executive Director Amy Beth Franks
  • Music by Fort Jackson’s 282nd Army Band
  • Posting and Retirement of Colors by USC Air Force ROTC Color Guard
  • Static displays featuring vehicles from the Vietnam Era, provided by The Celebrate Freedom Foundation
  • Presence of The Patriot Guard, a volunteer honor guard

Five Points Centennial Plaza Features:

Water Feature

The Centennial Plaza will feature a 6’ rotating granite kugel, a floating sphere fitting in a similarly shaped pocket, which is able to rotate by floating over a film of pressurized water and can be safely interacted with. The kugel will weigh over 30,000 pounds, making it the largest in the state of South Carolina.

A Tribute to Colonel Jack Van Loan

Included in the Centennial Plaza will be a bronze statue of Col. Jack Van Loan, US Air Force Retired. Col. Van Loan was a pilot during the conflict in Vietnam, and a POW for nearly six years in North Vietnam. Since his return to Columbia, S.C. in the 1980’s, he has been a valuable and cherished member of the Five Points  community.

Centennial Tree and Landscaping

The construction of the plaza provided an opportunity to plant several new canopy trees and flowers, enhancing the previously empty space.  Five Points has also planted a Centennial Tree, which will grow and thrive as the neighborhood continues for another 100 years.  Additionally, the curb lines of Blossom Street, Santee Avenue and Congaree Avenue have been redesigned to slow traffic leading into the Wales Garden neighborhood and to provide better connectivity between our neighboring residential communities and the Five Points business district.

About the Sculptor:

Maria J. Kirby-Smith made a vocational change after a year in her master’s program for Chinese Art History when she visited a cousin’s sculpture collection.  Her studies refocused to include hands on art at that point.  Her first public commission to sculpt Senator Strom Thurmond for Edgefield, SC, brought her back to the south. She was then commissioned in Camden, SC to sculpt three generations of Jack Russells.  Her roots in the south were cemented when a home and studio were built and dedicated to creating sculptures for the public and private sector.  Other works by Maria include O’Henry, Federal Judge Matthew J. Perry Jr., Reverend Richard Furman, Larry Doby, Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, Catawba Chief-King Hagler, Dr. George C. Simkins Jr., WWII Memorial Bristol, VA, Police Memorial Richmond, VA, American Revolution General Thomas Sumter, WWII Sailor, and WWI Corporal Freddie Stowers Medal of Honor.

About the Interpretive Prison Experience:

This is the second time this year that the creative team of Joe Wider, Clark Ellefson and Joel Hughen have collaborated on a public art project here in Columbia.  Ellefson, a well-known Columbia artist and furniture designer, established Lewis and Clark Design Studio in 1980 which became the creative anchor around which the Vista grew. Wider and Hughen have been creative collaborators for more than 35 years, creating film and television documentaries, commercials, and digital media.  As one of the first tenants in the Lewis and Clark building, in 1980, they began a long, creative friendship with Ellefson. Their first public art project together started when the Capital City Mill District Group, of which Wider is a member, recognized the need for a public art piece in the Mills Commons on Whaley Street.



About Five Points:

Five Points has served as downtown Columbia, S.C.’s original village neighborhood for shopping, dining, entertainment and personal services since 1915. Extending from the intersection of Santee Avenue, Harden and Devine Streets to the surrounding residential neighborhoods and USC, Five Points encompasses nearly 150 businesses, many of which are locally, independently owned. Five Points celebrated its Centennial throughout 2015 and kicked off the start of the next 100 years in 2016 with fresh community events, public initiatives and district enhancements.


About the Five Points Association:

The Five Points Association is a non-profit organization whose principal task is ensuring that Five Points remains an integral and important part of the City of Columbia. The Association has accomplished many major infrastructure, development and beautification projects over the years. The Association hosts annual events, such as the Chili Cook-Off and St. Pat’s in Five Points, which continue to entertain thousands of people within the City of Columbia, as well as visitors from around the state of South Carolina and beyond.

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