Lorick Library

Columbia Museum of Art

Hampton and Main, Columbia, South Carolina

"Essentially an art research collection, the Library's primary purpose is to support the research undertaken by members of the Museum and Museum visitors with specific research interests."
-- William Gordon, 1985


Lee Alexander Lorick Library (Lorick Library) is part of the larger history of the Columbia Museum of Art. Before there was a building to house the collection there was an ambitious and passionate collective dedicated to bringing art and culture to Columbia, known simply as ‘The Art Association’. The social and civic leaders met in 1916 to form this organization, and charter members included the family names of Baker, Nims, and Snowden... among so many others. Upset by World war, the efforts of the association waned until 1920 at which time an alliance with Camp Jackson allowed for lectures and other artistic outlets. [1]

Old Den Pictures

Early Library Holdings

January 31st, 1927 brought The Exhibition of Paintings by Leading Living American Artists from Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. The Columbia's Friends of Art Society had no building at that time but instead held dinners and shows in hotels and private homes. A family most important to Lorick Library had their own representative, Mrs. Lee A. Lorick hosting this event with other family representatives important to the region with names like Taylor, Lillard, Fitch, Bryd and McMaster.


Walter L. Clark, President of the Grand Central Art Galleries said that, “Columbia is certainly to be congratulated on this initial great exhibition to be brought to South Carolina, and we believe this date will in future be looked back upon as the beginning of an era of marked cultural progress.” [2] And so it has --starting with paintings by artists such as Ettore Cesar and Paul King the art society began showing, accumulating a loyal following of friends and benefactors. Collectors of both paintings and books saw only fit to contribute their legacies and collections to the resulting Museum. Many of those items were writings of the artists and their works

Section of the 1950 Columbia Art Association Constitution

Homes of the citizenry were the showcases for art, music, and speakers. The State Fair awards were begun as membership varied from a low of 80 members to a high of 300. By 1930, steps were undertaken to acquire an art center. It was not until 1947 when legislation by then Mayor Frank C. Owens created a commission and the purchase of the Thomas Taylor property was finalized. The Director and Board assumed their duties formally and in 1950 the Columbia Museum of Art was officially announced in its new site.


The 1833 publication by John White, “The Unfurling of the Flag of the United States” is one such small blue hardbound book residing in Lorick's shelves. Accompanied with the original receipt for payment and a cancelled check from The Lower Main Street Bank in Columbia, this little book was sold to A.S.Salley by Augustus W. Dellquest in California in 1941 for the sum of $4.50, which was paid in cash. This book is indicative of the treasures found in Lorick Library, a small treasure of a research and reference art library.

Library Statistics for years 1950- 1974

“Virtually simultaneously with the advent of an art museum, too, there was envisioned a need for creative art education to serve informally the interests and talents of greater Columbia.” Also, “growth of facilities did not overlook those accessories for research so necessary to the educational opportunities inherent in the museum's collections, in its temporary exhibits and in its implementation of the visual arts. For such a purpose, an Art Reference Library was sought simultaneously with the opening of the exhibit galleries. By purchase, gift and inheritance the Library has grown into a most valuable accessory to almost every Museum purpose, serving staff and public and formal education over the State with what is probably the most comprehensive art reference source to be found in this area.” [3]

Construction at Taylor House, August 21, 1958

In 1980, the Museum received a Museum Services grant of $35,000 and earmarked some of the funds for cataloging the library. [4] Indicative of the types of donations the library was receiving was the Luminists Exhibition and “In Praise of America” catalogs that were given by Eddie Roberts during April of that year. The donations that Lorick received became an integral part of her collection. By the next year, the Museum library was hosting a monthly experts panel on objects of art. [5]


It became the policy of the library not to duplicate holdings from other libraries but to feature, what was not available in the Columbia area. [6]

Old Building
Thomas Taylor House - home to Columbia Museum of Art and early library.

When it came time to move…the librarian in charge, Libby Rich worked closely with Michael Roh, to facilitate the move to Main and Hampton streets when the collections outgrew Taylor house.

First Annual Report
First Annual Report (cover) March 23, December 31, 1950

Coordinating each facet of the move down to ordering archival document cases, negative envelopes, and paperclips from Conservation vendors, Libby oversaw work with the SC Archives, working to set standards for retention and storage and arranging for microfilming individual Library of Congress number cards, citing them as articles with permanent administrative value.

Old Stacks

Museum of Art Library photo by ETV 1970

For this move, each book was carefully cataloged and shelved in the new 1300 square foot facility. Volunteer Nancy Sullivan recounts carrying and shelving the books as, “Good work, and hard work we were glad to do!” [7] Scrapbooks were protected in 1992 by putting them on microfilm and potentially rare books were separated to their own shelves.

Library Kids

Museology Class of University of South Carolina (Fall-Winter 1975) in Museum Library, with instructors F. Edward Barnwell and Dr. Annie-Paule Quinsac and students (clockwise) John Larson, Jay Miller, Joan Davis, Candy Baker, Dorothy Burley, Kathy Frye, Harriet Ferguson, Alex Toomey, and Dana Marquardt. Photo by Tom Fleming, Dec 1975

The benefactor name for Lorick Library is one shared by statesmen and businesspeople, benefactresses and patrons of the arts, an avenue, a plantation, and a park. Lorick is synonymous with the Columbia and Irmo area and as such, is a most fitting name for this collection within the Museum.


Model of future Columbia Museum of Art - April 1956

Located within the Museum of Art, now housed in the facility opened in 1998, Lorick offers a collection of approximately 10,000 information items (books, pamphlets) and 3000 journals, catalogs and bulletins. The mission of Lorick Library is to serve the Curatorial staff as a reference and research library first and also to serve the larger community of students and faculty, members and art lovers.

Publicity for Lorick Library, courtesy archives

“The new museum has over 20,000 square feet of galleries able to handle touring shows and the Museum's permanent collection. South Carolina now has access to larger traveling art exhibitions - not previously possible because of limited space in the existing facility. The new facility has well-designed workspaces and storage for collections as well. The new facility contains art studios, a teacher resource center, a 150-seat public auditorium, an art library, a museum shop and a public reception space.” [8] It is hoped that Lorick will be able to become a fully automated library in the near future with its holdings made available through Inter Library Loan.

Building Committee
May, 1997 Description of building committee - note Library Consultant is Margie Herron

A city that rebuilt itself after the devastation of Sherman's attack, Columbia is a blend of planning and happenstance, a place where unusual finds wait for the patient seeker. Lorick Library has an eclectic collection waiting for the curious. Just as Lorick house survived the troops and a move to now grace Lake Murray, so too the Lorick Library Collection has grown through donations, moves and purchases.

Floor Plan
Blueprint of Lorick Library

As August Kohn, a benefactor of the Columbia Museum of Art wrote back in 1905,


“From it's location near the confluence of the Broad and Saluda Rivers and upon the falls of the Congaree (on the so-called “fall line”), as well as being at the point of convergence of the ridges or water-sheds which afforded the trails of wild animals as well as of the aborigines, the present site of Columbia was probably a natural point of meeting for the Indians before the coming of the white man.” [9]

Artist's rendering of new Museum of Art, courtesy archives

This web page created by Peggy Cwiakala, MLIS

End Notes

  1. The Columbia Art Association 1915-1975/ The Columbia Museum of Art 1950-1975: Columbia, South Carolina, A History. A publication of the Columbia Museums of Art & Science 1975
  2. Pamphlet: The Exhibition of Paintings by Leading Living American Artists from Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. The Columbia’s Friends of Art Society, Columbia, South Carolina. January 31st to February 6th, 1927
  3. The Columbia Art Association 1915-1975/ The Columbia Museum of Art 1950-1975 Columbia, South Carolina, A History, A publication of the Columbia Museums of Art & Science. 1975, page 19
  4. Pamphlet “Columbia Museums of art and science, News -- October 1980
  5. 1981 Annual Report, Columbia Museum of Art
  6. Remarks of William Gordon, cited in Columbia Museum News, V 35, No 2 Summer 1985
  7. Interview with Nancy Sullivan, October, 2005.
  8. From http://www.colmusart.org/html/s01general07.shtml (Accessed November, 2005)
  9. Kohn, August. Unpublished writing, 1905, “Columbia – Old and New, The People Are The City” from the Lorick Library Archives


  1. Interview with Nancy Sullivan, October, 2005.
  2. Lake Murray Visitor's Center. Irmo, SC
  3. Site: http://www.colmusart.org/html/s01general07.shtml (Accessed November, 2005) 
  4. Kohn, August. Unpublished writing, 1905, “Columbia - Old and New, The People Are The City” from the Lorick Library Archives.
  5. Archive picture files, Lorick Library
  6. Archive clipping files, Lorick Library
  7. Annual Reports of The Columbia Museum of Art
  8. Columbia Museum of Art Internal Publications
  9. Columbia Museum of Art and Science News pamphlets
  10. The Columbia Art Association 1915-1975/The Columbia Museum of Art 1950-1975, Columbia, South Carolina "A History".
  11. Remarks of William Gordon, cited in Columbia Museum News, V 35, No 2 Summer 1985
  12. Nancy Williams, Volunteer at Columbia Museum of Art and Lorick Library

Special thanks to:

Dr. Martin Cwiakala for web assistance
Natasha Tiniacos for research assistance
Patrick Scott, rare books director for the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina
Dr. Charles Weasmer, retired: Political Science Department, University of South Carolina
Dr. Robert V. Williams, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina



This page was created for The South Carolina Library History Project