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Columbia SC
Historic House Museums

Hampton-Preston Mansion - built 1818 HAMPTON-PRESTON MANSION - This mansion was built in 1818 for Ainsley Hall and purchased by Wade Hampton I in 1823 for his wife, Mary Cantey Hampton. Wade Hampton I was an experienced soldier from the Revolutionary War and a general in the War of 1812. At the time of his death in 1835, he was considered the wealthiest man in the United States The house was occupied by the Hampton family for 50 years. The Hampton's daughter, Caroline Hampton Preston, and her husband, John S. Preston, a wealthy lawyer, planter, banker, and politician, traveled frequently between the mansion and other family plantations in Louisiana and various European cities. Other Hamptons made their mark on South Carolina history. Wade Hampton II grew up at Woodlands, the plantation on the Congaree River and lived at Millwood, another plantation outside of Columbia, when he married. He was the wealthiest of all the Wade Hamptons. His son, Wade Hampton III grew up at Millwood. Hampton III commanded the Confederate Calvary during the Civil War and later went on to become Governor of South Carolina.

During the Civil War, the Hampton-Preston Mansion was seized and used as the Union Army headquarters for General John A. Logan. It was spared for this purpose while three other Hampton family plantations were burned. The home was sold outside the family in 1873 and was used as a College for Women until it was later restored to its antebellum appearance. The home contains Hampton and Preston family furnishings and memorabilia dating back to 1810.

Location: 1615 Blanding Street

Robert Mills House - built 1823 ROBERT MILLS HOUSE - Designed in 1823 by Robert Mills, the first federal architect of the United States. Robert Mills designed the Washington Monument and the U.S. Treasury Building and many other notable structures. It was built for a prominent local merchant, Ainsley Hall. When Hall died before the home was completed, his wife was forced to sell the home. The house was later purchased by the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1831 and used for this purpose for almost 100 years.

Later the home was used briefly by Winthrop College and later by Columbia Bible College. The house was threatened with demolition in 1960. Saved by the efforts of historic preservationists, who later formed Historic Columbia Foundation, the house was restored, the outbuilding rebuilt, and the grounds developed. The Robert Mills House and Park is an elegant Southern estate built on four acres of land. It now houses a Regency decorative arts collection and Regency style furniture in addition to French Empire and American Federal furniture. The grounds are a finely manicured, peaceful park.

Location: 1616 Blanding Street

Mann-Simons Cottage - built 1850 MANN-SIMONS COTTAGE - This home, built in 1850, was purchased soon afterwards by Celia Mann. She was a slave in Charleston who purchased her freedom with money she earned as a midwife. Celia Mann walked to Columbia and lived in her home as a free black citizen. She lived in this home while the Civil War burned through the city in 1865. She died soon after, in 1867. Her descendants lived in the cottage for over one hundred years. In 1970 the home was sold to the Columbia Housing Authority.

This historic structure was also threatened with demilition, but through another grass-roots effort, the cottage and the histories of the Mann and Simons families were preserved. The cottage contains some family pieces.

Location: 1403 Richland Street

Woodrow Wilson Home - built 1872 WOODROW WILSON BOYHOOD HOME - This home, built by Woodrow Wilson's parents in 1872, served as his home during his teenage years. Young Wilson lived in the home 1872-1875 from the age of 16 through 19. Wilson's father taught at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was Pastor for a few years at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia. Woodrow Wilson later served as the 28th President of the United States. Young Woodrow and his parents moved from Columbia in 1875, but his parents later chose Columbia's First Presbyterian Church yard as their final resting place.

The house, a Vistorian structure in the mode of a Tuscan villa, contains Wilson family memorabilia, original gas lighting fixtures and the bed in which the future President was born. The garden features magnolias planted by Mrs. Wilson over 100 years ago. A room in the house depicts the life of President Woodrow Wilson with pictures and artifacts.

Location: 1705 Hampton Street

Tour Information:

More Information: Historic Columbia Foundation

All tours begin at the Robert Mills Gift Ship in the East Flanker of the Robert Mills House. Tours are conducted Tuesday through Saturday from 10:15 to 3:15, hourly. On Sunday, the tours are hourly from 1:15 until 4:15.

Call (803) 252-7742 for more information.

Photographs by Mel Coker.

Columbia SC real estate