Our 14 acres of landscapes in the heart of Robert Mills Historic District feature heirloom plantings popular with gardeners over the past two centuries.
Looking to take a stroll or enjoy your lunch in an historic outdoor setting? Three of our historic gardens are now open for visitation. You can find more details regarding our re-opening in our FAQ. Plus, you can now buy plants from our historic gardens through our plant sale.
The gardens at Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion, Seibels House and The Museum of the Reconstruction Era will be open to the public as follows:
Seibels House (1601 Richland Street): 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday - Friday
Robert Mills (1616 Blanding Street): 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday | 1 - 4 p.m. Sunday
Hampton-Preston (1615 Blanding Street): 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday | 1 - 4 p.m. Sunday
The Museum of the Reconstruction Era: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday | 1 - 4 p.m. Sunday
Hampton-Preston and Robert Mills open garden hours are extended to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
Our History is Alive
Experience 150 years of local history right down the road at Historic Columbia’s public gardens. Have a picnic at the elaborate gardens of the Robert Mills House, wander through the grounds of the newly restored Hampton-Preston Mansion or visit the outdoor museum at the Mann-Simons Site and see how our history is alive.
Robert Mills Gardens
Due to its use by educational and religious institutions, grounds of the Robert Mills House never featured ornamental gardens. After Historic Columbia saved the property in 1960, gardens were created. Today, the gardens are a novel combination of an early 1970s landscape plan, featuring hallmarks of 19th century English design, and species and cultivars native to eastern North America. Open to the public and available for special event rentals, the grounds of the Robert Mills House are an inviting green space set within an urban environment.
The Hampton and Preston families ensured that the four-acre grounds around the mansion signaled their extensive wealth and influence. Through enslaved labor the landscape was transformed into regionally-acclaimed gardens that contained a remarkable collection of native varieties and plants from around the world. One of Columbia's most heavily documented historic estates, Historic Columbia is recreating the gardens in the spirit and design of the antebellum era. The second phase of this transformation is schedule for completion in May 2018. Learn more about the garden's rehabilitation.
Seibels House Garden
Long celebrated for its beauty, the Seibels House garden is often mentioned in 19th- and 20th-century travelogues and articles. The garden received a comprehensive transformation in 2007 through the vision of contemporary horticulturist A. Jenkins Farmer, featuring a revitalized landscape that merges existing historic elements with heritage plantings to showcase the contributions of generations of gardeners.
Gardens of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home
Reportedly designed under the influence of Jessie Wilson, the future president's mother, the landscape was divided into the formal front yard and working back yards, which included vegetable and flower beds as well as a kitchen house, privy and carriage house. While little documentation of the property exists from the time of the Wilson family's occupation, records indicate that roses, tea olives, crepe myrtle, japonica, and other shrubs were planted in the front yard, implying its use as a decorative garden area. Rehabilitated in 2013, large magnolias line the front of the property, shading a Victorian garden in the spirit of Jessie Wilson’s vision.
Looking for something specific?
Visit our Garden Search to find exactly what you're looking for. With detailed information about every plant in all six of our historic properties, this database represents a wide swath of the diverse flora native to South Carolina.
This campaign was made possible by a grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.