Built between 1890 and 1895, this one-story Columbia Cottage was home to Modjeska Monteith Simkins, considered the matriarch of South Carolina’s Civil Rights movement.
Home to Modjeska Monteith Simkins from 1932 until her death on April 5, 1992, this one-story cottage was used for lodging and as a meeting space for local and national civil rights leaders and NAACP lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall during a time when blacks were excluded from city hotels.
Simkins worked for social reform all her life, during a time when it was not only difficult for her to be of color but also a woman. Heavily involved with the NAACP and other activist groups, Simkins' most significant work was on the 1950 South Carolina Federal District Court case Briggs v. Elliott, a lawsuit that called for equalization of black Clarendon County Schools with white schools. This case was eventually reworked as one of several cases that directly challenged the "separate but equal" doctrine in the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In 1981, a coalition of civil rights groups including the Columbia NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, the National Council of Negro Women and the Urban League honored Simkins for her untiring efforts to aid the underrepresented and underprivileged. Later, she received the state's highest honor from the governor, the Order of the Palmetto, for her lifetime of work.