Historic Homes and Gardens to Tour in Columbia, South Carolina
There south is well known for its history and the Historic Columbia Foundation has ensured that some of history still remains in the area. With a number of historic homes, ranging from those owned by the well-known and famous, to those built by former slaves, each home has a story to tell. And some of these homes include some fabulous gardens to enjoy. So take a day and experience some of history by visiting one or more of the following historical homes of the area.
The Robert Mills House was built in 1823 by the countries first born and trained architect, Robert Mills. The house was built for Ainsley Hall, a wealthy local merchant, and his wife Sarah, but Mr. Ainsley died before the home was completed and his wife sold the home. It was then saved from demolition in 1960 and was established for tours. Because gardens had never been established on the grounds, these were lavishly designed to make the grounds more presentable and to allow for the home to be rented out for special occasions. The home sits at 1616 Blanding Street in downtown Columbia and can be toured from Tuesday to Sunday, except when in use for a special event.
The Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, located at 1615 Blanding Street in Columbia, was established in 1818 by Ainsley Hall for him and his wife, who then sold the house in 1823 to Wade Hampton I. The Hampton and Preston family was forced to sell the 4 acre estate after the Civil War and since then it has passed through a number of hands. The home contains a number of original pieces of furniture and includes a history of the home since its conception to date, as well as a detailed history of urban slavery in the area. The home and gardens were set up for tours in 1970 and the antebellum gardens are currently being revitalized to their original beauty. The home can be toured Tuesday through Sunday.
The Mann-Simmons house, that is located at the corner of Richland and Marion Streets in Columbia, was one of the first homes built in the area by former slaves. The site originally housed a number of other buildings, to include a grocery store and a lunch counter, but over time these were torn down. In their place were established “ghost structures”, framework to identify how the original site was laid out. The site was owned by the family beginning around 1843 through 1970. The house was restored and is one of the few sites of its kind in the State. Tours of the home are available from Tuesday through Sunday.
The Woodrow Wilson Family Home, built in 1871, was the family home of a 14 year old “Tommy” Woodrow Wilson, who then went on to be the 28th president of the United States. The Wilsons only lived in the home for 3 years before young Tommy’s father had to move his post to Wilmington, North Carolina. The home was closed in 2005 due to deterioration, but has been restored and was reopened in early 2014. Extensive research was conducted prior to remodeling in order to have the home resemble that of the time the home was established. A variety of interpretive displays have been set up in the home to education visitors about that period in history. The home can be toured Tuesday through Sunday and is located at 1705 Hampton Street in downtown Columbia.
The Modieska Monteith Simkins Cottage, built in 1890, was home to South Carolinas matriarch to the Civil Rights movement. Home to this amazing woman from 1932 until her death in 1992, the home was used for meetings, as well as lodging for high ranking NAACP officials who were not allowed to stay in the local hotels. Ms. Simkins spent her entire life working for social reform, with her greatest achievement being the 1950 South Carolina District Court Case Briggs v. Elliott, a lawsuit addressing equality of education for blacks in Clarendon County of the State. This later led to the “separate but equal” doctrine in the Supreme Court Case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. She eventually went on to receive the Order of the Palmetto by the governor for her work in helping the underrepresented in the State. The Modieska Monteith Simkins Cottage located at 2025 Marion Street, is currently not open for tours, but can be rented for meetings and other events.
The Siebels House and Garden, located at 1601 Richland Street, were established in 1796. It has passed through a number of hands over the years, and with each passing a variety of additions and modifications having been made. The house was donated to the Historical Society in 1984 and is now used for offices and rental space. The fabulous gardens have been highly praised in a variety of magazines and were revitalized in 2007. The house and gardens are open to visitors Monday through Friday and are available for rent for special occasions, such as weddings and receptions.
As you can see, the Historic Columbia Foundation has been busy trying to preserve a little of the history of the area through some of its landmark homes and gardens. Be sure to take some time and enjoy a tour of some of these homes that will take you back in time. And if you have a special event you are planning, maybe one of these fabulous homes or gardens will be the perfect backdrop for your event.