Another Amazing Jubilee!

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On Saturday, Sept. 16, thousands of people made their way to the Mann-Simons Site for the 39th Annual Jubilee: Festival of Black History & Culture.

Special thanks goes to our wonderful sponsors without whom, this festival would not be possible.

 

Thanks also to our fantastic vendors, stalwart volunteers, dedicated HC staff and everyone who came out on this beautiful day to celebrate African American music, culture and history in Columbia, South Carolina. See you next year for the 40th Anniversary of Jubilee!

For the whole album of Jubilee 2017 images, CLICK HERE.

If you joined us at Jubilee and are interested in volunteering to give tours of this important house, please consider coming to the Mann-Simons Volunteer Training on Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. to find out more!

 

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39th Annual Jubilee Honors South Carolina Musicians

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On Saturday, September 16, the corner of Marion and Richland Streets will fill with singing as the 39th Annual Jubilee Festival of Black History and Culture takes place.

This year’s festival will celebrate the lives of two of South Carolina’s most influential musicians—John Blackwell and Skipp Pearson—both of whom died earlier this year.

Blackwell was a Columbia native who landed his breakthrough appearance playing with Patti LaBelle on her Grammy-winning LP, Live! One Night Only. In 2000, Prince recruited Blackwell to play drums in his band, New Power Generation, which he did for more than a decade. Blackwell appears on several of Prince’s LPs, including 2003’s N.E.W.S.

Pearson, South Carolina’s Ambassador of Jazz, was a native of Orangeburg where he purchased his first saxophone for $.50. During his more than 50 year career, Pearson shared the stage with Otis Redding, Parri LaBelle, Miles Davis, and Sam Cooke, among many others. In 2008, Pearson performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball in Washington. For nearly 17 years, he played jazz at Hunter-Gatherer every Thursday.

To honor the memory of these two musicians, the Jubilee Festival will celebrate the musical lineage of South Carolina with a headlining performance by Cheri Maree. Maree is an international recording artist, songwriter and author who brings “soul jazz” to the center stage. A multi-talented vocalist and musician raised in Columbia, S.C., Cheri’s eclectic sound and style have graced the stage with legendary Grammy-winning artists, including Patti LaBelle, Al Jarreau, Hootie and the Blowfish and Brian McKnight.

A handful of other performances from South Carolina musicians – representing a variety of genres, including R&B, jazz, gospel and soul – will take place throughout the festival.

Jubilee will feature historic storytelling, artist demonstrations and family-friendly activities. Throughout the day, guests are invited to take house tours of the Mann-Simons Site and the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House for $1 and take the African American Historic Sites Bus Tour for $2. In addition, there will be a variety of outdoor vendors selling food, beverages, art and wares.

Historic Columbia invites you to experience the free Jubilee festival at the Mann-Simons Site (1403 Richland Street) from 11 am – 6 pm on Saturday, September 16.

This article was originally published in The Columbia Star.

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Total Solar Eclipse in South Carolina

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We were all amazed at the total solar eclipse that made its historic path over South Carolina this past Monday. Thanks to everyone who joined us from near and far to witness history in the making #OnThisSpot in Columbia, S.C.

There were a few pieces published at the end of last week that we want to highlight, just in case you missed them. The following article was published initially in The Columbia Star on August 17.

In the Path of Totality

By John Sherrer, director of cultural resources, Historic Columbia

Have you ever been in the path of something that you cannot escape? Have you ever been faced with an event that cannot be avoided? Such situations often elicit anxiety or even dread. What if you knew exactly when and where such an event was to occur? What would you do? How would you prepare?

Rather than with anxiety and dread, it has been with rapt anticipation that Columbians have readied themselves for an astronomical event noteworthy of history books. We, and the anticipated hundreds of thousands of visitors to the capital city, stand in path of totality. On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cast us in darkness. Day will become night, as this breathtaking phenomenon impacts the city like no other has in generations.

Stories of earlier solar eclipses, recorded by The State newspaper reveal the concerns, preparations and observations of our forebears while providing us with intriguing glimpses into the capital city they knew. For instance, the total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918 found Columbia lying far northeast from its path of totality. Leading up to the event, which would ultimately cast a modest shadow on the city, writers offered that, “The moon and sun in their glory cannot greatly eclipse Columbia.” Looking forward, on June 12, a correspondent concluded, “We ought to be able to pay some attention to the next eclipse, which is scheduled for 2017. The [First World] War should be over by that time, even according to . . . some of our own choicest pessimists.”

A little less than two decades earlier, on May 29, 1900, Columbians and other South Carolinians witnessed an eclipse of greater local impact, as they found themselves just outside of the path of totality for an event that engrossed most citizens but particularly “scientists, professors, students, ministers and ladies galore,” who traveled to the town of Little Mountain for a better view. Their journey involved rising early, making their respective ways to various electric streetcar stops and congregating at the train station where they boarded eight cars for the 30-mile trek.

They carried with them window panes and broken bottles caked in smoke from “lightwood splinter,” or fat wood to protect themselves from the eclipse’s harmful light. Following the event, in which animals were said to bed down for the night and birds ceased their songs, the 450-strong crowd returned to Columbia, many with “sooty nose or blackened cheek” from their protective “glasses” and several suffering from “barked shoes [and] torn dresses.” These inconveniences aside, their brush with the path of totality left many of them with an incomparable lifetime memory.

Soon, we, too, will experience an event of our lives. Unlike those of our predecessors’ our solar eclipse experience places us directly in the path of totality. But, while Columbia will be bathed in total darkness, albeit briefly, the sun and the moon will not truly eclipse the excitement and celebration citizens of and visitors to the capital city will enjoy during this once-in-a-lifetime event #OnThisSpot where #HistoryIsCool.

 

And this article was part of our #ThrowbackThursday collaboration with Cola Today.

Total Eclipses #OnThisSpot

The last total eclipse to cross the US was in 1918, but on the eastern seaboard, it only crossed through Orlando.

The last time the path of totality touched South Carolina was on May 28, 1900.

The very edge of the path skirted the City of Columbia creating a dusky haze for a few moments, according to eye witness accounts.

USC’s Garnet and Black noted that a total solar eclipse would be visible in Columbia on May 28, 1900 in their annual school calendar (they made it a holiday).

South Carolinian Oscar Montgomery Lieber (eldest son of Francis Lieber, who lived at South Carolina College and is the namesake of the admissions building) traveled to Labrador in 1860 on an “Eclipse Expedition” and recorded his findings in an attempt to have them published (it never was).

During the 1900 eclipse, some folks were not too impressed with the spectacle. John Coleman Feaster, a native of Fairfield County was a farmer who wrote in his diary on May 28, 1900: “We all saw the total eclipse of the Sun this AM, i.e. Gussie, Wife, Self, and Pen James. I plowed some corn and watermelons this A.M. Wife and Gussie gone to Pelt’s.” (But were they Bradford watermelons, tho?)

Apparently nonplussed by the potential for cosmic event, the State only mentioned the total eclipse once in their May 28, 1900 issue. The next day? Almost every page was devoted to the event.

Why should you get pumped over this eclipse? Solar eclipses aren’t uncommon. Usually, however, you have to travel out of your way to see them—swim to the middle of the ocean, freeze in Labrador, etc. Never again in our lifetimes will the path of totality cross through our backyards. So while people from Texas and Maine and Nevada are scrambling to find a Columbia hotel room, we can post up in our lawn chairs for an early happy hour next Monday.

 

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Karli & Ben at the Robert Mills House & Gardens

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We are pleased to share Karli and Ben’s enchanted ceremony at the Robert Mills House and Gardens with you.

The couple chose to host their intimate ceremony indoors, at the Robert Mills Carriage House. As thunder rolled overhead, the couple and their guests gathered together to celebrate the spirit of love and adventure.

The wedding had a refined bohemian ambiance with the bride donning a custom crown of greenery for her walk down the aisle. Not to be outshined—Ben’s bright floral-printed tie lent additional playfulness to the ceremony.

The reception was held under a tent on the back lawn with an open-air dance floor adjacent. Even rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the wedding party who chose to dance in the storm.

The grounds were given an additional aura of romance by lighting installations provided by Ambient Media. Rope lights hung from the trees to create an atmosphere of enchantment on the lawn of the Robert Mills House and Gardens.

To top it all off, the couple processed through a tunnel of sparklers at the end of the night. Their last kiss was truly a scene for the history books.

Congratulations, Karli and Ben!

Wedding Planner Alisha Millwood

Rentals Something Borrowed

Photographer Jessi Nichols 

Catering Hudson’s

Full Bar Service Ed’s Bartending

Margarita Machine Famously Frozen

Lighting Ambient Media

DJ Services Best Carolina DJ  (Mike Siomacco)

Hair 193 Hair

Make-up – Melanie Thompson

 

Karlie and Ben’s beautiful wedding at the Robert Mills House was also featured in the Budget Savvy Bride!

To rent any of our historic properties, or for more information, please contact our rental department or call at 803.252.7742 x 11.

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Experiencing the Eclipse in Columbia

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By James Quint, director of education, Historic Columbia

During its 230-year-history, many travelers ventured to Columbia in order to interact with politicians and businessmen in the budding state capital. Even more travelled here to work, to trade, or to sell their goods from the far corners of the state. Some come to learn at Columbia’s colleges and universities. Unquestionably, the most famous visitor of the 18th century was George Washington when he made his stop during his tour of the South in 1791.

On August 21, hundreds of thousands of guests will arrive in the Midlands, as it has been named the best place on the East Coast to watch the total solar eclipse with 2 minutes 36 seconds of totality. As our state prepares to welcome record crowds, city services, law enforcement, cultural organizations and a variety of other groups prepare for an influx not seen since Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1987.

While Myrtle Beach and Charleston may be viewed as the tourist meccas of South Carolina, and to be fair there are many others, including Columbia, our city has an array of engaging activities to ensure a positive experience for those visiting during this historic weekend. Residents and visitors will look to the sky at 2:41 p.m. on to see the Great American Eclipse, which may be one of the most visually impressive events of their lifetime.

Undoubtedly visitors from all over the world will want to learn more about Columbia’s history and culture, which is why Historic Columbia has planned a series of events and tours to engage them in our rich past.

Our community’s longtime connections with the military will be explored during a Historic Water Balloon Battle Happy Hour on Friday, August 18 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. This popular annual event will explore military tactics in ways that will also cool participants in famously hot Columbia with more than 1,700 water balloons. Thousands of water balloons will be discharged in four battles tracing tactics used in the Revolutionary War, World War I and later 20th century conflicts.

Tours of Historic Columbia’s four historic house museums, the Robert Mills House & Gardens, Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens, Mann-Simons Site and the Woodrow Wilson Family Home: A Museum of Reconstruction, will be offered throughout the weekend.  Each site tells a compelling story of individuals and events who have shaped the capital city and beyond.

Walking tours of Main Street and the Vista will be offered simultaneously at 9 and 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings and are perfect options for folks to explore the area’s architecture, development and history.

More than 600 people will gather at the historic Robert Mills House & Gardens on Monday afternoon to watch the Eclipse. While this event is sold out, the gardens and grounds are open daily to the public and free to access during normal business hours – so be sure to come and visit on another day.

Just as city leaders and residents welcomed George Washington in 1791, we hope you’ll join us in welcoming the thousands who will arrive in the Midlands and encourage them to learn more about our city and county. Visit historiccolumbia.org to learn more about the events scheduled during Total Eclipse Weekend.

This article was originally published in The Columbia Star.

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Total Eclipse Merchandise Now Available!

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We are getting so excited about the historic total eclipse coming to Columbia in just two weeks! Whether you’re a seasoned celestial aficionado, or a newbie to historic astronomical phenomenon, we’ve got all your eclipse viewing needs covered at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills!

Historic Columbia also has an exciting lineup planned for the Total Eclipse Weekend, including an epic Happy Hour Water Balloon Battle and special tours of Main Street and the Vista! Click here to find out more or come on by the Gift Shop at Robert Mills today! #historyiscool

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From Columbia’s Front Porches

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By Lois Carlisle

In 2009, Historic Columbia began an initiative called Connecting Communities through History, which aimed to do exactly what it says—to bring people together by sharing the stories from their own back yards. In the South, you’ll often find folks on their front porches. Some may say hello, some may throw up a hand in greeting, others stop you to talk. This is true of each of Columbia’s neighborhoods. Here are a few friendly faces you might meet on your next Sunday stroll—
John and Victoria Dozier live in the 1900 block of Henderson Street in the Robert Mills Historic District. The Mills district boasts some of the oldest and most elegantly-designed homes in the city. The Doziers’ house is no exception. Their home, built in 1890, has been in the same family for six generations. The 1900 block was one of the first blocks in Columbia where prominent African American families lived. The Doziers recently received commendation at HC’s Annual Preservation Awards for restorations recently completed on their house. “It was definitely the experience of a lifetime,” said John. “Our hope is that our children will pass it to their children.”
Erika Ryan lives in Cottontown, which lies between Elmwood, North Main, and Bull Street. Last summer, she moved into a house on Marion St. She’s glad to have relocated to the neighborhood when she did. “Since I moved in last June, the businesses on Franklin have really taken off,” she told me. The War Mouth, a barbeque restaurant and bar, and Indah Coffee have generated an increase in foot traffic since their opening. “And we’re supposed to be getting a brewery down the street, too,” Ryan said. “I really love living within walking distance of places that are becoming local main-stays.”
Jessa Ross lives off Oak Street in Lower Waverly. She likes the village feel of the neighborhood—newer housing complexes make her feel alienated and distant from the people she lives next to. “I love the houses in Lower Waverly and that all of our neighbors talk to one another,” she said. “We watch out for one another. The other day, our across-the-street neighbor told a guy to get out of our yard, but it ended up being a man our landlord hired to do yardwork. It’s eyes on the street, you know. It’s what makes this a great community.”
If you’d like to get out and greet these porch-goers yourself, Historic Columbia has you covered. We offer self-guided walking tours, group tours once each month, digital web-based neighborhood tours, and a host of other ways to get out an interact in the Columbia community. For more information, please visit our website at historiccolumbia.org/take-a-tour.

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HC’s director of cultural resources, John Sherrer gives a tour through the Historic Waverly neighborhood.

 

 

This piece was originally published in The Columbia Star on May 12, 2017.

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A Critical Time for our Nation’s Museums

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Fielding Freed, HC director of house museums

“I love museums!” The comment was enthusiastic and genuine. It came from one of South Carolina’s Congressmen last month during Museum Advocacy Day organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). A record attendance of more than 350 people from all 50 states who spent the day canvassing Capitol Hill underscored the concern over proposed cuts in federal funding for museums. Many of us do, as a matter of fact, love museums:

  • Museums are popular. There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, more than number of people who visit theme parks AND attend major league sporting events. Just one local example, in 2016 the South Carolina State Museum had over 160,000 visitors and a school visitation of 68,000.
  • Museums impact our economy. Nationally, museums sustain more than 400,000 jobs and directly contribute $21 billion to the economy each year. Here in South Carolina, where tourism is our number one industry, museums play a vital role in both entertaining our visitors (where do summertime tourists go on a rainy day?) but also educating them about the role our state has played in American history.
  • Museums serve the public. Just one example includes the twenty-five museums in our state that participate in the NEA’s Blue Star Museums initiative giving free summer admission to all active-duty and reserve personnel and their families (serving over 923,000 people nationwide).

The South Carolina delegation visiting Capitol Hill included students from USC’s Honors College and museum folks from Richland, Horry, Charleston, and Oconee counties. We spent the day meeting with our representatives to request that they maintain funding for the Office of Museum Services (OMS). The OMS, which is part of the larger Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), awards grants that help to educate students, digitize collections, and engage communities.

Here are some interesting numbers that help to explain why we felt strongly enough to travel to D.C. to represent our state’s museums in person:

  • From 2014 to 2016, 3 South Carolina museums received IMLS grants totaling $139,000.
  • During those same years, 3 NEH and NEA grants totaling $553,000 went to five museums.
  • The Humanities Council of South Carolina received $2.1 million and the South Carolina Arts Commission $2.3 million. Those funds, in turn, flowed outward and supported a wide variety of museum programs and projects.

The proposed federal budget recently submitted by the White House will directly and negatively affect the historic and cultural organizations of South Carolina. Of particular concern is the proposal to eliminate entirely the NEA and NEH.  Now is the time, if you love museums, to act. We have helped start the conversation, but now it’s up to those who value what South Carolina’s museums contribute to our quality of life to voice their support before it’s too late.

With Senator Graham

Caption: Fielding Freed with other SC delegates visiting Senator Lindsey Graham on Capitol Hill last month.

Originally published in The Columbia Star

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Absolute Slaves: Race, Law and Society in Antebellum South Carolina

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By Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate, USC

Today, South Carolina remains one of the most diverse states in the union. According to the 2015 census, nearly 37 percent of South Carolina’s residents identified as a racial minority. Approximately, 28 percent of the state’s population is African American. The state’s racial diversity is grounded in the history of the founding of the colony.

 
Closely linked to the island of Barbados, South Carolina was the only colony where blacks outnumbered whites at the turn of the eighteenth century. The arrival of African slaves and free people of color from Barbados and a limited number of white women in the colony all contributed to a society that was accepting of racial diversity and interracial relationships. Unlike other southern states including North Carolina and Virginia, South Carolina never adopted a one-drop rule and did not have an anti-miscegenation clause in its constitution until 1865.

 
Indeed, South Carolina society had changed by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Racial slavery was embedded in its society and whites viewed slavery as their key to prosperity. What did not change about the state, however, was that as such, South Carolina offers a unique opportunity to study race, law and society during the antebellum period.

 
To learn about the common-law definition of race and how it related to social and political thought on race in antebellum South Carolina, attend Historic Columbia’s Lunch and Learn series from noon – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. This session will be led by guest presenter, Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate at the University of South Carolina and will be held at the Mann-Simons Site located at 1403 Richland Street. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit historiccolumbia.org/BlackHistory, email reservations@historiccolumbia.org or call 803-252-1770 x 23.

 

This article was originally published in the Columbia Star.

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Preservation in a New Era

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by Sean Stucker, Director of Facilities

2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This act of federal legislation helped to codify and to standardize historic preservation in the United States, and it laid the groundwork for additional legislation that was passed 15 years later: the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HRTC). Passed in 1981, it provides an incentive to real estate developers to adaptively reuse certain existing historic structures. According to data from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the HRTC has leveraged more than $117 billion in private investment, has created nearly 2.3 million jobs, and has helped to rehabilitate more than 41,250 historic buildings. In South Carolina, between 2001 and 2014, the HTC created 5,359 jobs, leveraged $316 million in investment and rehabilitated 86 different programs.

Despite its consistent record of delivering reinvestment to America’s cities, the HTC is not immune to the uncertainty accompanying changes in the political landscape. One example of political change comes in the form of various proposals involving tax reform legislation. Some proposals recommend elimination of a variety of tax credits and deductions, including the HRTC, the New Market Tax Credit, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The last two are often used in conjunction with the HRTC to carry out projects in underserved communities and to provide affordable housing.

Most people agree that the current tax code is far too complicated and some level of reform is needed. However, the idea of eliminating an incentive that has year-over-year returned more revenue to the U.S. Department of the Treasury than the value of the credits proffered and that has, in the process, become a driver of downtown revitalization across the country, is shortsighted. The Treasury receives $1.25 in tax revenue for every dollar invested. Since its inception, the HTC has generated $28.1 billion in federal tax revenue for $23.1 billion in federal tax credits. This is an example of the federal government providing a small incentive to spark a very large private sector investment that yields economic activity sufficient to repay the federal investment, and then some.

Moreover, this credit is utilized by homeowners and commercial developers alike and the credits generated are often bundled and syndicated for use by major corporations, including banks and insurance companies. This speaks to the fact that it is a bipartisan benefit and positively impacts entire communities through the investment that it spurs. Restoring historic cores enhances property values and tax bases, creates local jobs and forms the “sense of place” that has become such an important factor in deciding where we live, work and play.

Columbia has grown and thrived in recent years. This growth is due to the focus on a return to our historic commercial cores, including the revitalization seen in the Vista, Main Street, Granby and Olympia Mills and in Five Points, to name a few.

Behind the scenes, the HTC has been working to effect positive changes in historic communities across the nation. Indeed, the recently-opened Trump International Hotel in the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC is a beneficiary of HTCs. Nonetheless, indications are that retaining the HTC will require vigilance and teamwork from the preservation community.

Economic opportunity and prosperity benefit both sides of the political spectrum, and the HTC has decades of positive economic data behind it. Now more than ever, we are fortunate to have organizations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the many local and statewide preservation organizations that constantly work to communicate the importance of the HTC and of other statewide and local preservation incentives.

We encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to support keeping these important preservation tax credits. Our city’s future development and growth strongly depends on these tax incentives. To learn more about Historic Columbia’s preservation efforts and for more reasons why #PreservationMatters, visit us at historiccolumbia.org.

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Caption: The future of the federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC), an incentive that was used in many of the renovations along Columbia’s historic Main Street corridor, is uncertain in changing political landscapes.

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