From 1932 until her death in 1992, Modjeska Monteith Simkins’ home in Columbia, SC served as a key location for civil rights and social justice activities. In 2017, Historic Columbia received an African American Civil Rights Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. This grant is partially funding continued rehabilitation at the Modjeska Monteith Simkins Site, ensuring that we can continue the legacy of our state’s fiercest civil rights activist.
The Columbia Cottage style home, located one parcel south of the southwest corner of Elmwood and Marion streets, was built sometime between 1890 and 1895 according to existing maps, although its architect and builder are unknown. Over several decades, Simkins boarded key Civil Rights figures at her home, which also served as a place for developing and organizing legal strategies on issues with local, state and national significance. Under the stewardship of Historic Columbia the last twelve years, the site has been used as an educational and public meeting space.
Historic Columbia broke ground on December 10, 2019. Some of the main items in the scope of the site's rehabilitation include:
- Window restoration – total window restoration and re-installation, as well as removal of windows not original to the site / new reproductions to match, and window frames all being prepped and repainted. Window restoration by Shenandoah Restorations.
- Foundation and brick repairs – new footings and piers in a few areas where settling compromised the foundation.
- Plaster repairs – the settling of the foundation, as well as the usual and expected cracking that occurs in plaster walls and ceilings, has resulted in damage throughout the house, calling for plaster repairs.
- Trim and door repairs – minor interior and exterior trim repairs, door hardware repairs, new cabinetry/counters and an updated “break room” in the kitchen.
- MEP repairs – new HVAC system and insulation in attic and crawlspace; repairs and updates to the electrical and plumbing systems.
- Handicap accessibility – paved driveway to handicap parking space and new ramp at the rear of the building.