In Memoriam: Dr. William Seale, Historic Columbia’s First Professional Director 1939-1969

William Seale

Dr. William “Bill” Seale left an indelible mark on Historic Columbia and the State of South Carolina.

Serving as the organization’s first professional director and as the curator for the rehabilitation of the Hampton-Preston Mansion into the Midlands Tricentennial Exposition Center, Dr. Seale’s hiring marked the point at which the volunteer-based organization took its initial steps into professionalizing the stewardship of the historic properties under its care. Thanks to his ability to read buildings, Dr. Seale ensured that key aspects of the Hampton-Preston Mansion were saved for later preservationists to research and to use as a foundation for later improvements. During his time from the summer of 1969 through the end of his tenure with Historic Columbia in June 1971, Dr. Seale also was responsible for managing the Robert Mills House and for guiding capital and interpretive improvements at the then-Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home, today’s Woodrow Wilson Family Home and Museum of Reconstruction in Columbia and Richland County. Dr. Seale’s passing marks another milestone in Historic Columbia’s history—a history made far richer through his dedication, scholarship and continued support after leaving Columbia. “Though I never met him in person, Dr. Seale nonetheless continued to shape Historic Columbia through thoughtful conversations he had with me for more than twenty years. His insight can be seen to this day. And, I will miss him,” laments John Sherrer, Director of Cultural Resources.

Learn more about Dr. Seale’s prolific career at whitehousehistory.org.