Aerial view of the University of South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena during construction

Colonial Life Arena after completion

The online exhibit presented here is the culmination of a years-long project to begin telling the living history of a Jewish family and the business they developed, creating deep roots locally and growing dramatically during its eighty years of operation in Columbia, South Carolina.

Kline Iron and Steel Company (1923-2003), known for its high quality products and services, had a reciprocal reputation of loyalty and respect between employees and owners. Through the thirty-plus oral history interviews in this exhibit, narrators share their stories of family, community, friendship, and work. As recalled by many, working with Kline was like being part of a family. That feeling likely contributed to the unusually low employee turn-over rate.

A brief History of the company is described using a timeline depicting the company’s milestones over its eighty years, including the early lives of the company’s founders, Myer and Philip Kline.

The Huger Street plant: bottom left 1997; bottom right 1952

Aerial view of the Kline plant on Huger Street (forefront), to the left a textile mill (later to become the state museum site), and far back the South Carolina Penitentiary, 1866-1995 (photo by Russell Maxey)

West Columbia plant, 1999

The Interviews are available in both audio and transcript form and include a brief summary of each. All interviews were conducted by oral historian Andrea L’Hommedieu, as part of her work in the Department of Oral History. The voices are rich and varied and the interviews are meant to illustrate first-hand knowledge and perspective of the Columbia-built company and the people who were part of that growth. Because the founding brothers, Myer and Philip Kline, and Philip’s son, Bernard, are no longer living, it was important to capture some of that family history through interviews with family members.

There are several interviews with Jerry Kline, who led the company for  twenty-five years.

Over three hundred Photographs capture a visual history, including such themes as welders, engineers and others in their working environment, early photos of the Kline family, and company recognition events.

Printed Materials include several issues of The Fabricator newsletter, Kline advertisements, and promotional booklets with full color photographs of completed projects.

The Tower Projects page includes visual examples of tower projects and provides information about the towers including geographic location, size, and date of erection.

The Structural Projects page includes visual examples of structural projects as well as a list of projects completed during the company’s existence.

Golf ball with iconic Kline Iron & Steel logo