2021 Christmas in Columbia Ornament of Opportunity – The Big Apple


In keeping with the spirit of the season, the Babcock Center Foundation proudly presents the 2021 “Official City Ornament”. This year’s ornament depicts The Big Apple.


The Big Apple, built in 1915, was originally the House of Peace (Beth Shalom) Synagogue. Its worshipers were primarily immigrants from Eastern Europe who lived within walking distance. Its interior architecture, including a notable recessed dome and a balcony, reflect its original function.

The structure gained its greatest notoriety when used as an African American nightclub in the 1930’s and became known as The Big Apple Club. It was a hub of social activity and also a place where the creativity of African American dance and music came to the attention of white Americans. The dance known as “The Big Apple”, spread across the country and some historians say it was the third most popular dance craze in the history of the United States. Swing dancers throughout the world still dance “The Big Apple” and honor its history and creative legacy.

In the 1980’s, The Big Apple was moved from its original location at 1318 Park Street to the corner of Hampton and Park Streets. Purchased by the Historic Columbia Foundation in 1993, it hosted weddings and events until it was purchased by Richard Durlach and Breedlove in August 2015 for use as an arts venue. Today, The Big Apple continues to be rented for events such as weddings, parties, concerts and meetings.

The Big Apple is listed in the National Register as the House of Peace Synagogue.