Established in 1929, the Curtiss-Wright Hangar, located in Columbia, South Carolina’s historic Rosewood community, has called the famous Owens Field Municipal Airport home for just shy of a century. As one of only seven remaining 85 Curtiss-Wright Hangars left in the United States, the hangar at Owens Field is a shining example of the significant contributions the air transportation industry made to both the city of Columbia and the state of South Carolina as a whole. American icons such as Amelia Earhart and Franklin D. Roosevelt graced the historic airways in the 1930s, and with aviation on the rise in the state, the hangar soon became the headquarters of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. After falling to disuse in the 1980s and secured for rehabilitation in 2016 by Hangar Preservation Development, LLC, through the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC), the Curtiss-Wright Hangar at Owens Field is now the Hunter-Gatherer Brewery. Offering craft beer, bar food and large event space, the brewery has become a new focal point of the Rosewood neighborhood, stimulating the local economy and uniting a community through valuable educational programs and inclusive activities designed for the whole family.
A Brief History
The Curtiss-Wright Hangar was originally built in 1929 as the first building at the Owens Field Municipal Airport, which served as the area’s primary operating terminal until the 1960s. American Aviation pioneers Glenn Curtiss and the Wright Brothers took on the project when the two companies merged to keep up with the rapidly developing industry. The hangar’s initial purpose was to house airplanes for passenger and airmail services, but as aviation grew, so did the airport. As the industry boomed, the hangar became the headquarters of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. Later, it provided a space for the civilian flight training program, and its final use was for general aircraft maintenance. Notable figures, including Amelia Earhart and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, flew into Owens Field to experience the innovation fist-hand, underscoring the Curtiss-Wright hangar’s significant place in American history. After being left vacant in the 1980s, the hangar fell to disrepair. Water intrusion in the roof, walls, windows and basement caused the hangar to deteriorate over time, leaving the existence of the historic building hanging in the balance until it was saved from imminent demolition in 2016 by Hangar Preservation Development, LLC.
About the Rehabilitation
During rehabilitation, the hangar’s 13,000 square feet of space was transformed into a brewery and event space. The observation deck area was patched and sealed, the hangar doors were strengthened, light fixtures were retained and rewired, the roof was replaced and the exterior was repainted to reflect the same aesthetic it held when operating at its peak. After months of research and trials, 1,644 energy-efficient window panes were installed to solve the issue of glare for pilots flying into the airport. Among the more interesting preservation efforts is the recreation of a number of historic signs located throughout the building that had become mere traces of what they were before, including the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service logo.
The Hunter-Gatherer Brewery is a locally-owned light manufacturing and distribution operation featuring a 527-gallon brewhouse and a series of 10-foot-tall fermenting tanks and bottling, conveyor and packing operations. In addition to production, the brewery is also a taproom and event space, and the facility is open for public tours. Serving their brews on tap along with bar snacks, handcrafted pizzas and specialty cocktails, the reimagined facility is a new staple in the local community. The observation deck overlooks the commuter airport in the Rosewood neighborhood, allowing for patrons to enjoy their specialty food and drinks while watching airplanes as they take off and land. From organizations like the South Carolina Philharmonic, the Midlands Astronomy Club and the South Carolina State Museum to local food and wine festivals and farmer’s markets, the Curtiss-Wright hangar now hosts a variety of events, entertaining, educating and strengthening the Rosewood community.
The reinvented hangar has become a catalyst for growth in the local area, encouraging the pursuit of additional historic rehabilitation opportunities in the state with its success. With plenty of event space perfect for meetings, concerts and local festivals, the Curtiss-Wright Hangar went from a dilapidated eyesore to a neighborhood hotspot. Whether with your friends enjoying a delicious cold brew listening to your favorite local artist or gazing up at the stars learning about the exciting world of astronomy with your children, there’s something for everyone at the restored historic facility. The new Curtiss-Wright hangar now insights an inclusive and progressive culture, fostering positive relationships and bringing in new opportunities for educational activities and other unique experiences, all while preserving an integral piece of American history.
The development team consists of local developers Robert Lewis, Scott Linaberry, Will Brennan, and Chris Rogers.