Hampton-Preston Reopens

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By: Robin Waites, Executive Director


Thursday, May 10th 2018

At Historic Columbia, we have the great responsibility of being the stewards of the unique Richland County-owned site that is Hampton-Preston. Since reopening the Woodrow Wilson Family Home in 2014, our organization has shown an unwavering commitment to tell a more complete and inclusive history at all the sites that we manage. With support from many in the community, you will experience the Hampton-Preston Site in new way.

When you enter the home, you will experience renovations that underscore the wealth of the white families who lived here and the extraordinary skill and craftsmanship of the enslaved people who built the house. You will be introduced to Maria and William Walker, siblings who were enslaved workers and John and Caroline Preston who owned them. You will learn about the time, energy and expertise that it took to run this extensive household and 4-acre estate. You will see the maps, wills, census records, photographs and portraits that encourage critical thinking about whose history is preserved, how it is recorded and then how a person’s story is told.

side view of houseAs you walk through the grounds, you will get a sense of the extensiveness of the design as well as the incredible variety of plant materials – both native and exotic that flourished her in the 1850s. You’ll learn about the enslaved labor that made these gardens one of the most renowned in the region. You will see images of the site being enjoyed by students at Chicora College. And hopefully you will consider the ways that you can take advantage of this free, public green space in the center of our city that is open for you to enjoy.

Throughout many years of this effort, we have had great partners. Our project architects: 1x1 Design and Lord Aeck Sargent, General Contractors Mashburn and Hayhill, Palmetto Decorators and Dillon Construction. I also want to recognize our extremely dedicated and hard-working staff who have been here almost around the clock the last several weeks to make possible the interpretive enhancements and renovation improvements that you see at the site.