One of Columbia's oldest remaining structures, the Hampton-Preston Mansion explores the lives of enslaved workers and their planter-class owners.
Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens
Wealthy Columbia merchant Ainsley Hall and his wife, Sarah, had this mansion built in 1818. They lived here briefly, until 1823, when Ainsley sold it to Wade Hampton I, who was known as one of the South's richest planters. For the next 50 years, the estate grew to be Columbia's grandest residence under the Hampton and Preston families and the many men, women and children they enslaved. In the 100 years following the Civil War, the mansion and its touted gardens hosted many different owners, including colleges and a tourist home. After an extensive rehabilitation, the property opened to the public in 1970 as an historic site. The site is owned by Richland County and managed by Historic Columbia.
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.
Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center
Historic Columbia's hub for horticultural research and propagation
The new Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center, a state-of-the-art greenhouse located on the northwest section of the Hampton-Preston Mansion grounds, completes a decades-long vision to transform the property into a hub for horticultural research, propagation, interpretation and programming. This facility provides the organization an enhanced capacity to care for the 14 acres of grounds and gardens under its care, while interpreting the role that talented gardeners, horticulturists and garden enthusiasts—Black, white, enslaved and free—have played in shaping the capital city, which historically was (and increasingly continues to be) acknowledged for its physical beauty throughout the seasons. The greenhouse, gatehouse, and past improvements to the property and gardens have been made possible through the generosity of the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation.
Photos Courtesy of Cohn Corporation by Todd Lista with Park Avenue Photography