Historic Columbia Foundation Awarded Grant From AT&T for Mann-Simons Learning Our History Project

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Historic Columbia Foundation was awarded a $11,500 grant from AT&T in support of the Mann-Simons community engagement project. The Learning Our History Shaping Our Future project utilizes the Mann-Simons Site and Modjeska Simkins House to expose youth and elders to local African American history in a way that facilitates empowering intergenerational contact. The project also aims to expose youth and seniors to new technologies, and effectively promote citizen engagement. 

AT&T presented a check to the Historic Columbia Foundation at the Jubilee Festival of Heritage on Saturday, August 18 at the Mann-Simons Site.

The grant from AT&T supports a partnership between Historic Columbia Foundation, the University of South Carolina, Richland County School District One and the Booker-Washington Heights Neighborhood. Approximately 40 C.A. Johnson High School students and 40 Booker-Washington Heights neighborhood alumni will participate in the Learning Our History-Shaping Our Future project over a six-month period beginning in September 2012.

The project will use local history as the catalyst to extend meaningful outreach programs to high school students and senior citizens and enable the foundation to build greater organizational capacity for community engagement.

“We cannot fully appreciate where we are and where we’re going until we know where we’ve been, until we know our history.  The Historic Columbia Foundation’s ‘Learning our History – Shaping our Future’ project will help students and adults better understand our community’s African-American heritage,” said Ted Creech, External Affairs Director for AT&T South Carolina.  “By adding new technologies and new ways of experiencing the Mann-Simons Site and the Modjeska Simkins House, The Historic Columbia Foundation will be able to more meaningfully engage the community in more than two centuries of local history.  AT&T is very pleased to assist with this outreach.”

The Mann-Simons site, one of only a few sites in South Carolina once owned by freed African-Americans prior to the Civil War, and the Modjeska Simkins House, the former residence of the woman largely considered the “matriarch” of Civil Rights in South Carolina, are two of seven historic properties managed by Historic Columbia Foundation.

Members of the media are encouraged to contact Ashley Tucker at 803.252.7742 ext 16 or atucker@historiccolumbia.org for more information.

About Historic Columbia Foundation:
In November 1961, a small group of individuals intent on saving the Ainsley Hall House from demolition, officially incorporated as the Historic Columbia Foundation. Over the next five decades the organization, which was founded on the premise of preservation and education, would take on the stewardship of seven historic properties in Richland County. Today, the organization serves as a model for local preservation efforts and interpretation of local history. The 50th Anniversary year of Historic Columbia Foundation (which officially began on November 13, 2011) will include a variety of community celebratory events. Visit http://www.historiccolumbia.org for details.

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Web: http://www.historiccolumbia.org
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/discoverhistory


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Early Columbia Lecture Series Part Three Kicks Off September 4!

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In honor of our 50th Anniversary as an organization, Historic Columbia Foundation is pleased to offer a three-part Lecture Series on the history of Columbia, South Carolina.

We invite you to join us for Part III of the Early Columbia Lecture Series, hosted by historian and author Warner Montgomery, Ph.D. Part III of the series will cover the Twentieth Century: Columbia Celebrates 200 years, meeting Tuesdays, September 4 – October 9.

Topics Covered During Each Lecture (Part III):
Sept 4: Boom, Bam, Boom (1920s, 1930s, 1940s)
Sept 11: Main Street: Business and Commerce
Sept 18:  Urban Renewal and Suburban Annexation
Sept 25: Desegregation and Local Control
Oct 2: Schools, Hospitals, and Public Services
Oct 9: Mayors, Leaders, and Vision

Optional Bus Tour: Sunday, September 16, 2012, 2:00 PM -5:00 PM
Meets at the Seibels House, 1601 Richland St

Columbia Revisited will be used as the textbook for this series. If you would like to pre-purchase a copy, please indicate so on your registration form. The cost will be $26.95 for members of Historic Columbia Foundation and $29.95 for all other participants.

About Warner M. Montgomery:
Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D, graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of Michigan, began his professional career as a teacher and coach at the new A.C. Flora High School in Forest Acres in 1960. After teaching in Thailand, Michigan, Ohio, Africa, and Canada, he returned to Columbia in 1989 as owner-publisher of the Columbia Star newspaper. He is now retired and writes and teaches about the history of Columbia.

Cost / Registration Information:
The cost for Part III of the series is $50 for HCF members (or $55 with bus tour), $60 for guests (or $70 with bus tour), and $35 for students with valid ID (or $45 with bus tour).

Register by downloading the print-friendly registration form.  You may also wish to print the Lecture Series outline (takes a moment to load – includes dates/times for all three parts) to keep on file. Then, email your registration form toreservations@historiccolumbia.org OR mail to 1601 Richland Street, Columbia, SC 29201.

Click the button below to download the registration form.  Email your registration form to reservations@historiccolumbia.org OR mail to 1601 Richland Street, Columbia, SC 29201.

Historic Columbia Foundation Columbia Lecture Series

Questions? Contact Ann Posner at (803)252-1770 x 24 or email reservations@historiccolumbia.org.

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WLTX News19 Features the New Outdoor Museum at Mann-Simons

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Friday afternoon WLTX News19 reporter Sydney Cummins visited the Mann-Simons Site to learn more about the recent additions to the property. The new (free) Outdoor Museum at the site will debut at the Foundation’s 34th Annual Jubilee Festival of Heritage on Saturday, August 18. To check out the story online, click here or click the video below.

 For more information on this free festival that runs from 11 am – 5 pm at the Mann-Simons Site, visit our calendar listing here. New this year, the Foundation will also host a FREE Panel Presentation to better explain the project and as well as the discuss the importance protecting our historic assets and how the disciplines of archaeology, historic preservation and public history can be used to achieve a better understanding of important historic properties. This free panel is Thursday, August 16 at 6 pm at the Big Apple.

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Preservation Matters: Columbia, SC | Re-imagining the Past: Mann-Simons Site Focus of New Approaches to Interpretation

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For more than 30 years visitors to the tidy 19th-century cottage at 1403 Richland Street in downtown Columbia learned of Charleston native Celia Mann, whose journey from enslavement to freedom and relative prosperity in the antebellum capital city gave rise to subsequent generations of entrepreneurs and leaders within its African-American citizenry. This story and the land on which Mann established her life in Columbia have been celebrated during the Jubilee Festival of Heritage each August since 1978.

Now, after seven years’ worth of concentrated archaeological and documentary research, this important South Carolina historic property is poised for a significant reinterpretation, dynamic in both content and presentation. Visitors to the 34th annual event will have an opportunity to begin viewing the site as never before, physically, historically and even philosophically.

The first change, and perhaps the most subtle, that guests will encounter is the renaming of the property, which for years was referred to as the Mann-Simons Cottage. While it was commonly known that the family’s holdings included far more buildings than the extant cottage, the sole survivor of urban renewal efforts in 1970, most people viewed that structure as the property’s most important facet due to its understood physical link to Celia Mann. However, subsequent architectural study of the building, performed within the past two years, determined that the association with Mann was faulty – the cottage’s date of construction fell between 1873 and 1880, well after the matriarch’s death in 1867. This discovery, coupled with extensive evidence discovered during archaeological excavations (and admittedly a change in the way significance is perceived through the discipline of archaeology), led Historic Columbia Foundation to look more holistically at the property, hence its name change to the Mann-Simons Site, which is what all official documentation has referred to since 2011.

Soon thereafter, Dr. Jakob Crockett, Archaeology Coordinator for Historic Columbia Foundation and primary investigator for the Mann-Simons African American Archaeology Project, developed a focus exhibit within the cottage that highlighted themes of identity vis-à-vis mass production and the consumption of goods during the Jim Crow era, as embodied by artifacts recovered from a lunch counter the family ran from 1891 until 1909. His efforts marked the first time since 2001 that the Foundation had created an entirely new exhibit within the building and the first involving materials that he and archaeologists working under his guidance had recovered at the site.

Moving beyond the assets found below ground Historic Columbia Foundation staff then pondered ways in which the Mann-Simons Site’s past may be interpreted in further compelling new ways. Inspired by three-dimensional representations of former buildings at St. Mary’s City, Maryland, Benjamin Franklin’s House in Philadelphia and Pole Green Chapel, near Richmond, Virginia, Foundation staff conceived of erecting ghost structures, or frames, representing the exact placement and footprints of buildings that stood at the Mann-Simons property during the early 20th century. This vision became a reality during the spring of 2012 following a year-long partnership with students and faculty of Richland School District One’s Heyward Career and Technology Center, dedicated volunteers and corporate partners in erecting four steel structures.

This August, these impressive frames will mingle with tents and displays at Jubilee and visitors to the site will, for the first time since 1970, be able to appreciate the former complexity of the Mann-Simons households. By late fall wayside signage and an enhanced website, products partially underwritten through a Humanities CouncilSC grant, will accompany these skeletal structures, so that by 2013, visitors to this National Register of Historic Places-listed site will experience well beyond a fragment of what their forebears could. Through these dynamic interpretive tools the Mann-Simons Site’s significance will be more fully appreciated by visitors to South Carolina’s capital city.

Worth a Thousand Words

Redevelopment of the west portion of the block bounded by Marion, Calhoun, Bull and Richland streets was in the planning stages by the late 1960s, as real estate appraisals of properties there and in the surrounding blocks were made to determine values for parcels needed for construction of a high-rise apartment building by the Columbia Housing Authority. From these appraisals contemporary audiences have invaluable photographs of the Mann-Simons family’s former holdings. Image courtesy Columbia Housing Authority 

Preservation by Association
Slated to meet the same fate as the Mann-Simons family’s other former properties, the 19th-century residence located at 1403 Richland Street, shown here in 1975, fortunately survived. The preservation of the building, at that time believed to once have been the home of family matriarch Celia Mann, was the result of tireless efforts on the part of community leaders and the concern of family member Robbie Fabreka Atkinson, pictured at center.

Imagining What the Building Should Have Looked Like
During the rehabilitation of was then known as the Mann-Simons Cottage, historic preservationists attempted to restore the building to what they felt it should have looked like historically. Their end result included some changes that ultimately presented the building as it had never appeared before, such as at the structure’s north elevation where the removal of a bathroom led to the full extension of the rear porch. In reality, since its construction in 1904, the porch always had featured this modern day convenience.

A Striking Contrast
Its restoration completed in 1978, the former Mann-Simons family’s house then stood in stark contrast to its new neighbor to the north – a modern high-rise apartment building.

Studying What They Left Behind
Assistant Archaeologist Joseph Johnson and Archaeology Coordinator and Primary Investigator Dr. Jakob Crockett study some of the thousands of diverse artifacts uncovered during multiple excavations at the Mann-Simons Site between 2005 and 2012.

Hands-On History
Students under the guidance of master pipe fitter Marc Crockett (standing at top right) and Dr. Jakob Crockett (crouching at top right) assemble the framework for the former store located to the east of the still-standing, late-1870s/early-1880s house. 

A Lasting Impression
Visitors to the Mann-Simons Site will soon enjoy a free outdoor museum experience where they will be able to better understand how the family’s property once looked, how they used it over time and what archaeological evidence they left behind for contemporary audiences to piece together various ways of understanding their experiences from the 1840s through 1970. Frameworks such as this for 1904 Marion Street and wayside signage featuring historic images and QR codes with links to greater information will soon offer guests a wealth of information not previously available.

Ways to Get Involved:

1. Become a member of Historic Columbia Foundation.
 For as little as $35 (individual), your membership cost helps Historic Columbia Foundation in our local preservation and education efforts. Learn more…

2. Visit our historic house museums and gardens, including the Mann-Simons Site, Hampton-Preston Mansion, Seibels Garden, Robert Mills House & Garden, Woodrow Wilson Family Home (open the first Tuesday of the month for hard hat tours). Learn more…

3. Donate to Historic Columbia Foundation in honor of our 50th Anniversary. In an effort to save the Robert Mills House from demolition 265 visionary individuals, families and businesses each contributed $1,000 (equivalent to a $7,341 gift in 2011!) to Historic Columbia Foundation between 1961 and 1964. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Historic Columbia Foundation, our Board of Trustees invites you to continue the legacy of the 265 founding leaders by being among the first 265 donors to make a contribution to our 2011 – 2012 Anniversary Campaign. Your gift may serve as a memorial or honorarium and may be directed to benefit our special projects, endowment or general operation fund as noticed in 50th Anniversary donation form here.

4. Become a fan of Historic Columbia Foundation and Preservation Matters on Facebook.(Facebook.com/HistoricColumbia andFacebook.com/PreservationMatters)  and/or follow us on Twitter (@histcolumbia). Your likes, comments and retweets help us spread the word about our organization.

5. Volunteer for Historic Columbia Foundation. By volunteering for Historic Columbia Foundation, you meet new people, visit historic sites, and discover the culture and lifestyles of South Carolina’s capital city and Richland County. Spend as little as six hours per month, or volunteer each week with us fulfilling our mission to nurture, support, and protect the historical and cultural heritage of Columbia and its environs through programs of advocacy, education, and preservation. Learn more about becoming a volunteer (and the many volunteer benefits) here.

6. Spread the word about our 50th Anniversary by posting a link to this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and/or your website.

7. Encourage your employer to support Historic Columbia Foundation. Much like the 1,000 visionary donors in 1961, sustaining the efforts of Historic Columbia Foundation for the next 50 years will require donations not only from individuals and families, but also from local businesses. You can learn more about our business partners here. Contact Wendi Spratt in our development office at 803.252.7742 ext. 12 orwspratt@historiccolumbia.org.

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Hough: We can’t afford to lose our history | Op-ed in The State Newspaper

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The recent demolition of the George Elmore Five and Dime has been garnering much attention within the Columbia community. Mr. Hough, a radio executive in Hemingway, is the chairman of the S.C. African American Heritage Commission. Hough’s op-ed was featured in The State newspaper on Wednesday, August 8. Click here to read the piece.

Other stories about the George Elmore Store below.

Tuesday, August 7: Historic Site Now Nothing More Than Rubble, WIS News 10 feature.

Sunday, August 5: Iconic Civil Rights Building Torn Down in Columbia, feature in The State newspaper.

Sunday, August 5: Store’s Destruction Spurs Efforts to Preserve Other Columbia Landmarks, feature in The State newspaper.

Tuesday, July 31: Civil Rights Site Praised – Then Razed, feature in The State newspaper.

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Historic Site Now Nothing More Than Rubble | WIS News 10 Features George Elmore Site Demolition

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The recent demolition of the George Elmore Five and Dime has been garnering much attention within the Columbia community. WIS News 10 visited the site of the former Five and Dime story yesterday to speak with Robin Waites, Historic Columbia Foundation’s Executive Director, as well as members from the community and Mayor Steve Benjamin.

To view the video online, click here.

Other stories about the George Elmore Store below.

Wednesday, August 8: Hough: We Can’t Afford to Lose our History, op-ed in The State newspaper.

Sunday, August 5: Iconic Civil Rights Building Torn Down in Columbia, feature in The State newspaper.

Sunday, August 5: Store’s Destruction Spurs Efforts to Preserve Other Columbia Landmarks, feature in The State newspaper.

Tuesday, July 31: Civil Rights Site Praised – Then Razed, feature in The State newspaper.

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