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Next year, one of Columbia’s oldest buildings – the Hampton-Preston Mansion – will turn 200 years old. This bicentennial anniversary coincides with many improvements to the Richland County-owned property. The 1818 landmark structure will receive a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and major stucco repair. Enhancements to the site’s gardens will involve two-acres of new plantings, pathways, lighting and benches. New interior and exterior interpretative exhibits will offer guests unprecedented information about the property’s evolution from an urban estate to a museum site in 1970.
To date, Historic Columbia has received nearly one million dollars from Richland County for capital repairs; support from the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation to complete the entire Phase Two of the Hampton-Preston Garden Rehabilitation with a cost of nearly $400,000; as well as $35,000 from the Richland County Conservation Commission and $8,000 from South Carolina Humanities to expand interpretive content and educational tools and $25,000 from Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Connected Communities grant to enhance public visitor amenities in the garden. In order to ensure that the site’s historical integrity is realized and this multi-phased effort complete, we need your support.
During the 1969 rehabilitation, researchers uncovered evidence of the hallway's original appearance before new plasterwork was installed.
This 200th anniversary offers the rare opportunity to act on research findings made during the building’s initial rehabilitation in 1969, when then-director and curator William Seale discovered evidence of decorative finishes that originally graced the mansion’s formal hallway. Insufficient funding at that time prevented the room’s re-plastered interior walls from being scored and sand-painted to mimic ashlar, or cut stone, an effect that would have been consistent with the building’s early 19th-century construction and aesthetics. Additionally, wall-to-wall floor coverings, which most likely would have involved a painted floor cloth, could not be replicated and installed.
Thirty years later, Historic Columbia reinstalled the hallway's original archway and grain-painted elements of the room. However, circumstances prevented scoring the walls and texture painting them to mimic cut stone.
Implementing these decorative finishes in 2018 will result in the site more realistically conveying the period in which the estate functioned as one of the capital city’s most renown antebellum residences. “This remarkable property, which has survived for two centuries, is a natural place to discuss the forces that have shaped our community today. Holistically representing the site’s past, through its museum collection, its gardens and the stories we tell sheds light upon its owners, its enslaved workers and later occupants. Realistically portraying period settings, including the replication of their historic finishes, allows Historic Columbia to more authentically convey the past,” says Director Robin Waites, who asks you to support this year’s annual fund whose proceeds will underwrite the $35,000 project.