Homeschool Program

All homeschool students are invited to participate in Historic Columbia’s Homeschool Friday programs on the first Friday of the month. Each month’s program is from 10 - 11:30 am and includes hands-on activities while students learn and explore different themes and historic sites at Historic Columbia. Homeschool Friday programs are designed for students of elementary and middle school age levels.

Homeschool Friday is open to families and homeschool groups of less than 10 students. For larger groups, we recommend arranging a separate visit to explore that month's topic. Program participants should gather in the Gift Shop at Robert Mills on the day of the program unless otherwise noted.

The cost is per student, with an accompanying adult free. Homeschool Fridays are $5 for HC members, $6 for non-members and $8 for both members and non-members at the door.

Reservations open on August 1. If you have questions, would like to be on our mailing list, or if you would like to register for the entire year of Homeschool Friday programs, please contact Celia Galens, Engagement Coordinator, at or 803.252.1770 x 26.

2016-2017 Homeschool Friday Programs

September 2 | The Vista Tour

Historically a residential and light industrial district, the Congaree Vista was once the transportation hub of the city, dating back to before the Civil War. Students will learn how the railroads played an influential role in the Vista’s development. We will visit locations that were wayside hospitals during the Civil War, cotton warehouses, passenger depots, early automobile dealerships, and more. We will also see how the revitalization of the Vista, beginning in the 1970s, has sparked redevelopment featuring lofts, apartments, townhouses, restaurants, specialty shops, and offices.  We will meet off site for this tour at the corner of Pulaski and Gervais Streets.

October 7 | The Mann-Simons Site

The Mann-Simons site will celebrate its Grand Re-Opening at the Jubilee Festival this September! Students will have the opportunity to explore the newly re-interpreted site and to learn how a middle-class African American family lived in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Originally purchased by former slaves Ben Delane and Celia Mann in c.1843, the Mann-Simons site served as the location of a lunch counter, a grocery store, and a family residence, and remained in the family until taken over by eminent domain in the 1960s. The Mann-Simons Site has been closed to the public for a little over a year to allow Historic Columbia to reinterpret the history of the many generations that lived and worked there, so we will be one of the first groups to experience the exciting new exhibits and hands-on activities that the site has to offer!

November 4 | Fort Jackson

Fort Jackson is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year! In honor of Veterans Day, which falls on November 11th, students will explore Columbia’s military history and learn about the US Army’s largest Basic Combat Training Center. Originally opened to train US troops during World War I, Fort Jackson today is responsible for half of the US Army’s basic combat training and trains sixty percent of women entering the Army! Students will participate in fun activities and get to see images of Fort Jackson and its soldiers throughout the past 100 years!  

December 2 | Entertainment and Education in Richland County

Like we do today, Columbians in the past had a variety of places to gather and learn. Come hear about some of the neat places of the past, such as the Fairgrounds, the Opera House on Main Street, local movie theaters, and more! We'll identify places on historic maps and explore what movies Columbians catching a show could see in the early 20th century. We'll also learn about the history of local education and the variety of schools that students attended in Richland County; we'll even get to see a 19th century schoolbook! 

January 6 | The Robert Mills House as Seminary

Few people realize that the Robert Mills House was never used as a private residence; shortly after it was completed, the home was turned into a seminary!  This program will explore the history of the site as a seminary and as other religious and educational institutions, and students will get the opportunity to explore a new exhibit focused on the seminary. Activities will also incorporate some of the key individuals associated with the seminary, including Woodrow Wilson’s father, Dr. Joseph Wilson.

February 3 | Technological Changes in the 19th Century

Explore the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Woodrow Wilson Family Home to learn how mass-production and new technology changed the way we lived in the 19th century.  Students will learn about changes in lighting such as the movement from candles to oil, gas, and electricity.  See how we heated our homes, used the restroom, operated businesses, traveled and purchased food.  Horses and walking are so 18th century while trains, trolleys, bicycles, and horseless carriages are the new talk of the town.  Students can take part in hands-on activities such as looking through a stereoscope, similar to 3D glasses.

March 3 | Planning a Capitol City

The Capitol City was chartered on March 22, 1786, before the city even existed.  How would you have designed Columbia when it was created?  Through a series of activities, we will examine how Columbia became the first planned state capitol in the country. Students will learn how the city developed during the past three centuries and how state government components were included from the beginning.

April 7 | Historic Gardens

Homeschool students will learn about 19th century gardens and planting techniques in this hands-on program.  Students will work with a Master Gardener to use proper techniques such as planting seeds, watering them, and fertilizing plants.  In addition, students will learn about heritage plants, including some recently brought to Historic Columbia!  They will also learn how herbs in the 19th century were used as medicine, seasoning, and in other ways such as mosquito repellent.

May 5 | Arsenal Hill Tour

Named for the military academy established here in 1842, Arsenal Hill includes the Governor’s Mansion and grounds, the Matthew J. Perry Courthouse, Finlay Park, and a diverse residential history. As the highest point within the capitol city's downtown area, Arsenal Hill became a desirable residential neighborhood for white elites during the antebellum era and then for middle- and working-class African Americans during the later 19th and 20th centuries. We’ll explore the areas’ rich history including residential, industrial, commercial, religious, educational, and governmental sites.  We will meet off site for this tour, exact location to be determined.