Historically Complex: The Podcast
Historically Complex: The Podcast
Dr. Lydia Mattice Brandt guides listeners through the complicated histories of key monuments on the South Carolina State House grounds.
What do the monuments represent? How can we know? Historically Complex, a new podcast, peels back the layers on the history represented at the South Carolina State House.
Dr. Lydia Mattice Brandt, associate professor of architectural history and art history at the University of South Carolina, is the experienced voice and guide of this narrative-style podcast. Turn the series on in the car, house, or, ideally, while walking the State House grounds and listen to Brandt as she positions each monument in its historical moment. Use our online walking tour to follow along, find your way, or to see historic photographs.
This podcast series is another tool in Historic Columbia’s efforts to drive conversations about the grounds and how historic places are interpreted in the community. While the podcast doesn’t take a position on what listeners should think or what should happen to the monuments themselves, it does take the view that monuments often tell us more about the moment in which they were erected than the historical person or moment that they commemorate. Since Columbia’s founding in 1786, the grounds of the South Carolina State House have grown from a four-acre site bounded by Richardson (Main), Gervais, Assembly and Senate streets into a 22-acre complex featuring seven buildings and more than 30 monuments. South Carolinians have constructed, altered and reconsidered this space for more than 230 years — and continue to do so today.
Use the web-based State House House Monuments Tour as a companion to the podcast, whether to view images of the monuments while listening at home or to explore the site's history more while on foot.
Stream the Episodes
Episode 1 presents an overview of the South Carolina State House grounds, asking what purposes the grounds serve and for whom. Brandt introduces the overall intent of the podcast: to understand what monuments mean through an analysis of the monument and an examination of the history of those who built and paid for them. Click here for a captioned version of this episode.
Episode 2 examines the origins of the State House between the 18th century and the Civil War. Brandt sheds light on the first statue on the grounds – the George Washington Monument – and the ways in which South Carolina politicians used the State House and art to argue for the righteousness of slavery. Click here for a captioned version of this episode.
Episode 3 discusses the construction of the State House in the 1850s. Brandt contextualizes the building — and the sculptures by Henry Kirke Brown on the north side of the building — with the politics of the era. Click here for a captioned version of this episode.
Episode 4 focuses on Reconstruction Era South Carolina following the end of the Civil War. This episode includes a look into the Confederate Monument and the construction of narratives of white supremacy, including the Benjamin Ryan Tillman Monument. Click here for a captioned version of this episode.
Buy the Book!
Dr. Lydia Mattice Brandt’s new book The South Carolina State House Grounds: A Guidebook is available for purchase at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills. The book is the first comprehensive narrative of this important site at the heart of the Palmetto State.
Questions or Comments?
Thank you for your interest in this project. The sources used on this tour and in Dr. Brandt's forthcoming book can be found here. We hope you will purchase the guidebook this May, which thoroughly cites this published and unpublished material, much of it unused in past academic work about the State House. If you would like to offer feedback, we invite you to fill out this short form.