By Isabelle Mandell
My family moved to Columbia when my father got offered a job as a professor at the University of South Carolina. I was born within the year, the youngest of four children. We traveled a great deal during my childhood and adolescence. My undergraduate degree was from the University of Colorado and I went to the University of Oregon for my Ph.D. My mother asked me how much farther west I planned to go.
But, I moved back to Columbia. I was eight months pregnant and had bought a house in Eau Claire solely through online pictures and a drive by viewing over a Christmas visit home. I loved that yellow house and I loved my neighborhood.
With thoughts of another child and my beloved bungalow seeming too small, I moved to Old Shandon. I have lived in my “new” yellow house for almost 17 years now. It was built in 1896 and is an ongoing project, as all old houses are. It has a spacious lot with many trees. In an ongoing annoyance for every dog I’ve owned, it is a haven for squirrels.
My story is a way to establish my place, my personhood, my belonging to this city. I could have lived anywhere. I am a psychologist, and, as you know, we are needed everywhere. But, I chose Columbia.
Columbia is my place. I grew up here, I’ve raised two children here, I’ve lived in my Old Shandon neighborhood for nearly 17 years. I love my city.
As a part of my commitment to my place I have been active with different nonprofit organizations, in my neighborhood, on City of Columbia and State of South Carolina boards, in political campaigns, in my children’s schools, and as a friend and neighbor. The one nonprofit board I currently serve on, and the one that satisfies my desire to contribute to my community is Historic Columbia.
If you value this city and its stories, then you should be a member of Historic Columbia. If you drive down the streets of Shandon and admire the bungalows and tree lined streets, if you relish the revitalization of downtown Columbia, if your child has come home from school happily discussing what they learned from a visitor who came to their school with a trunk of artifacts and cool stories, if you feel pride when you drive friends by the newly renovated Hampton Preston Mansion & Gardens, if you care at all about what happens in this city, about your place, then you should be a member of Historic Columbia.
At a basic level our mission is preservation. This does not mean that we want every building preserved in amber, but we do believe that buildings that are historically significant (like the Women’s Club on Blossom Street, just torn down) should be carefully considered for reuse and integration into creative planning. We provide education, advocacy, preservation and community.
As we near the end of our fiscal year, we are embarking on a membership challenge of signing up 100 new or renewed members by June 30. We know you care about Columbia, and we need you to care about us. To sweeten the deal, anyone who joins or renews by June 30 will be entered to win a #HistoryIsCool gift basket (worth $200), which includes all kinds of cool ways to get to know your city.
Preserve your place, where you live and what you care about, by joining or renewing today.
Historic Columbia Board of Trustees and Development Committee Chair