Chicora College Yearbook Memories

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For sisters Elizabeth (McElveen) Yountz, Robin (McElveen) Ragans, and Dale (McElveen) Jaeger, a recent visit to the Hampton-Preston Mansion was an exciting opportunity to see Chicora College, the Alma Mater of their grandmother Sarah Cornelia Cockfield. “It was a real thrill to see her in the annuals and see the ‘dorm’ room that she experienced,” said Elizabeth (Cornee) Yountz.  Cockfield, who grew up in Johnsonville near Lake City, graduated from Chicora in 1918. Historic Columbia was pleased to offer the sisters access to our collection of Chicora College yearbooks which contain many photographs of their grandmother that they had not seen before.


The  Presbyterian College for Women merged with Greenville’s Chicora College to form Chicora College for Women in 1915.  The school remained on Blanding Street at the Hampton-Preston property until 1930.






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Gee, Do They Still Make Aluminum Christmas Trees?

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IMG_5970 Nope, but we found one!

Urban legend has it that the popularity of aluminum trees like this one declined sharply after the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas Special. In the cartoon, he picks a scrawny but natural tree instead of Lucy’s preference for “the biggest aluminum tree you can find.”  The natural tree leads to Charlie Brown re-discovering the true meaning of Christmas. Once Linus’ blanket was thrown around the base of that needle-dropping pine, the aluminum Christmas tree was doomed.

This glittering survivor, and the suitcase, reminds us that the Hampton-Preston mansion was once a hotel for tourists. At the height of the aluminum Christmas tree fad in the late 1950s and mid-1960s, there were over thirty manufacturers of silver trees in the United States. This tree, made by the Peco Company in Austell, Georgia, had never been opened or used before it was donated to Historic Columbia in 2013.

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Celebrate the Holidays with Historic Columbia!

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HP Holiday Toys

The holiday season is nearly upon us, and Historic Columbia is pulling out all the stops. Starting Friday, November 21, see a variety of holiday decorations and traditions in the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Mann-Simons Site. Guides will provide stories of holidays past in Columbia and discuss how families decorated and entertained during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Historic Holiday Tours are free for HC members, $5 for youth and $8 for adults, and tours run through January 4 with special events and programs happening along the way:

  • Santa Signing. Saturday, Nov. 22. Visit the Gift Shop at Robert Mills for a storewide one-day sale of 30% off all holiday trim décor and gift items! Our Victorian Santa will visit from 1 to 3 p.m. to sign free coloring pages for the little ones and take photos. Families will be able to buy a Santa Key and Reindeer Treats to help Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve and enjoy cookies and drinks while shopping. During this free event, register for giveaways for a great holiday stocking packed with or for a beautiful holiday wreath for Mom or Dad.
  • Historic Holidays Family Day. Saturday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. Enjoy the holidays in the decorated Robert Mills House and learn about the history of several holiday traditions while enjoying holiday crafts and activities as a family. Family Day is free for adults and HC member youth and $6 for non-member youth.
  • Choir Showcase & $1 Tours. Saturday, Dec. 6 at noon. Local elementary schools will provide musical entertainment in front of the Robert Mills House for the community. This event is free and open to the public, and HC invites you to enjoy special $1 Historic Holiday Tours during the event.
  • Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides. Friday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Visit the decorated halls of our historic house museums on a guided candlelight tour. Enjoy musical entertainment and children’s activities while celebrating the holidays with HC. Before or after your house tour, enjoy a carriage ride through the Robert Mills historic district. Carriage rides are $5 per person, and tours are $12 for adults, $8 for youth and free for HC members.
  • Breakfast with Santa. Saturday, Dec. 20 at 8 a.m. Enjoy a continental breakfast in our cozy Carriage House while listening to seasonal music. After breakfast, take a festive tour through Hampton-Preston Mansion, see a Victorian Christmas tree and make a holiday craft. Don’t forget to get a picture with HC’s Victorian Santa Claus! Admission is $10 for HC member adults, $3 for HC member youth, $12 for non-member adults, $4 for non-member youth ages 4 to 12 and free for kids 3 and under.

For more information on these events or to reserve your spot, please call 803.252.1770 x 23 or email

Events aren’t the only way to celebrate with HC this season. Give a one-of-a-kind present and support Historic Columbia by shopping at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills; visit to find more about upcoming sales and events.

Thinking about renting a Historic Columbia property for your event this winter? Schedule your event by November 30 and save 15%! For more information, contact Heather Bacon-Rogers at, and learn more about the properties available for rent at

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Historic Artifact Spotlight: The Horses of Hampton-Preston

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This guest blog was written by HC Director of Cultural Resources John Sherrer.

For many Columbians the Carolina Cup marks the beginning of spring and an opportunity to don festive clothing and dust off tailgating finery for one of the social events of the year. More often than not, eyes are trained on the latest fashions—Lilly Pulitzer, LaRoque and Vineyard Vines—than on the four-legged fascinations charging along the racecourse. While the “look” may be quite different, the pastimes contemporary partygoers pursue nonetheless have deep roots in local history. Camden and Aiken may hold the distinction of being horse towns today but Columbia claimed that moniker during the 19th century.

Connections to that Columbia’s equine past remain within Historic Columbia’s museum collection, which features no fewer than five very significant artifacts formerly owned by the socially prominent Hampton and Preston families, the former of which was well known for its breeding of fine race horses. Two of the most famous pieces are portraits by artist Edward Troye (1808-1874). The first, HCF1972.104, portrays Marie West and foal, Cornelia, sired by Priam, and the second, HCF 1972.105, showcases another Hampton family horse, “Fannie.” Celebrated for their anatomically accurate depictions, Troye portraits remain highly prized artifacts among art collectors today.

The families’ interest in horse racing was also manifested in two silver vessels. Inscribed, “Won by Ormond for Harriet,” HCF1972.143.1, is a coin silver ewer made by the Baltimore silversmith firm of S. Kirk and Son. The other coin silver piece, HCF1972.144.1, is the work of Bailey and Kitchens from Philadelphia, and includes likenesses of a mare and foal among its extensive repoussè details. Lastly, the international appreciation of horse mastery is embodied in a delicate gold and amber riding crop (HCF1985.4.1) formerly owned by Sarah Buchanan Campbell Preston, aka “Buckie” Preston. Famed for her beauty, Buckie’s prowess in the equine arts caught the attention of Napoleon III, Emperor of the Second French Empire, during her time abroad before the Civil War. His thoughtful gift to her bears her nickname and retains its original presentation case!

These tangible links to the past tell us much about those citizens who came before us while illustrating how the foundation of today’s interests was established long ago. To learn more about the Historic Columbia’s museum collection or to visit the historic house museums under the stewardship of Historic Columbia, visit

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Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides Shine a Light on Historic Holiday Spirit

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Join Historic Columbia for its annual Candlelight Tours and Carriage Rides on Friday, Dec. 20.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., visitors can explore the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Mann-Simons Site by candlelight. HC’s historic house museums are decorated for the season and give a glimpse into the holiday traditions of Columbians from 1825 to 1900.

During your visit to Historic Columbia, enjoy musical performances by Corner House at the Robert Mills House from 7 to 9 p.m. and by Jennifer Hill at the Hampton-Preston Mansion from 6 to 8 p.m. Before or after your house tour, take a carriage ride through the Robert Mills Historic District for only $5. Don’t forget to stop by the Gift Shop at Robert Mills for the holiday open house throughout the evening for a storewide sale as well as refreshments, holiday tunes and a chance for register for HC’s happy holiday gift basket giveaway!

Candlelight Tours are free for HC members, $8 for adults and $5 for youth. Reservations are not required, and the last tour starts at 9 p.m. For more information, call 803.252.1770 x 23 or email

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Historic Columbia Celebrates Fall with Scarecrows in the Garden, A House in Mourning

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Fall is nearly here, and Historic Columbia is ready to celebrate the season with two popular annual exhibits, Scarecrows in the Garden and A House in Mourning.

Scarecrows in the Garden

Scarecrows in the Garden displays handcrafted scarecrows from local families, classrooms, businesses and organizations through the month of October. The free exhibit is open during regular touring hours and also includes a scavenger hunt and a search for the “Sneaky Steve” scarecrow.

  • Scarecrows in the Garden Contest. Registration ends Sept. 27. Enter your ghoulish, traditional or historical scarecrows in our contest; prizes include cash, awards and tour passes. The cost is $10 for families, individuals and classrooms and $20 for businesses and organizations.
  • Sculpting Scarecrows Weekend Workshop: Sunday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. Take a lesson in scarecrow creation and take your scarecrow home or enter it in the contest. For $15, participants receive helpful instructions, assistance and a scarecrow kit.
  • Scarecrows in the Garden Opening Reception and Awards: Sunday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. The exhibit debuts as local celebrities and community leaders judge the best scarecrows. Admission for HCF members is $5 for adults and free for children and for non-members, $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 6 – 12, and free for kids 5 and under.
  • Scarecrows in the Garden Family Day: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 12 p.m. “People’s Choice Award” and “Best Class Crow” winning scarecrows will be announced as children enjoy a variety of activities and games that highlight the importance of the fall harvest and Halloween’s history. The event is $6 for the first child and $3 for each additional child or free for HCF members.

A House in Mourning

From Sept. 27 until Halloween, A House in Mourning at the Hampton-Preston Mansion will introduce visitors to 19th century mourning traditions and compare them to ones we observe today. Strict social customs required Victorian Americans to publicly demonstrate their sadness in specific ways, including stages of mourning clothing. Today, mourning the loss of a loved one is thought to be much more private than in the past- but is it really? The exhibit will show that our modern forms of public mourning, including Facebook pages, roadside memorials and tattoos are not so different than those of our Victorian ancestors. The exhibit will be incorporated into regularly scheduled tours of Hampton-Preston Mansion, and admission is $6 for adults, $3 for youth and free for Historic Columbia members.

Historic Columbia is inviting the public to contribute to A House in Mourning by collecting current pictures and stories of public mourning. Use the hashtag #HouseInMourning on Twitter and Facebook throughout the month to share photos and experiences with HCF. (Not all submissions will be used in the exhibit.)

Don’t miss our other upcoming events this fall!

Happy Hour History Tours: Main Street
5:30 pm on Fridays, September 20 & 27,  October 4 & 11 | 5:30 – 7 pm
$20 HCF members | $25 Non-members

Early Adventures: Pumpkin Patch
By reservations during October
$6 per child (ages 3 – 10)

Spirits Alive! Cemetery Tours
Thursday, October 10 | 6:30 pm – 9 pm
HCF Members: $5 adults, $3 youth | Non-members: $10 adults, $5 youth

Second Sunday Stroll: Melrose Heights
Sunday, October 13 | 2 pm
Free for HCF members | Non-members: $6 adults, $3 youth

Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ
Thursday, October 17 | 7 pm
Palladium members $20 | HCF members $30 | Non-members $40

HCF Annual Meeting
Monday, October 21 | 5:30 – 7 pm
Members Only | Free

If you have any questions about any of our fall events, please call 803.252.1770 ext. 23 or email

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Scarecrows in the Garden Featured on WIS, WLTX and WACH Fox!

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For the last five years, Historic Columbia Foundation has offered a FREE Scarecrows in the Garden Exhibit. This year the Hampton-Preston Mansion hosts more than 30 uniquely-crafted scarecrows from area businesses, schools, families and organizations. The family-friendly exhibit has been getting some attention from our local media partners.

On Tuesday, October 2, WIS TV hosted their live 5 -7 am broadcast from the Hampton-Preston Mansion gardens. They highlighted the Hampton-Preston Mansion Garden Rehabilitation project and the free Scarecrows in the Garden Exhibit. Check out the accompanying online article here.

A week later, WLTX News 19 visited the Hampton-Preston Mansion site during one of our Early Adventure Pumpkin Patch programs. Check out the video & article online here.

WACH Fox highlighted some of the Foundation’s fall programs also. Check out the online article here.

About the Exhibit:
The FREE Scarecrows in the Garden Exhibit is open during touring hours, Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 4 pm and Sunday 1 – 5 pm. Take a stroll through our historic Hampton-Preston grounds and garden to view dozens of uniquely-crafted scarecrows from area businesses, schools, families, and organizations. The exhibit showcases ghoulish, historical, and colorful scarecrows for all to enjoy. Find our “Sneaky Steve” scarecrow who is hiding somewhere on the grounds but moves to a new location each week.  Also, enjoy a scavenger hunt and select your favorite scarecrow.

Vote for your favorite scarecrow on Facebook today! Scarecrows in the Garden events are sponsored by Palmetto Parent.

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A Call for Entries: Annual Scarecrows In the Garden Contest at Historic Columbia Foundation

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Historic Columbia Foundation is seeking handcrafted historical, ghoulish or traditional scarecrows for their annual Scarecrows in the Garden Contest, sponsored by Palmetto Parent magazine. The deadline to enter the contest is September 24, 2012.  All scarecrows will be displayed on the grounds of the historic Hampton-Preston Mansion from September 30 – October 31, 2012 during Historic Columbia’s annual Scarecrows in the Garden Exhibit. Community leaders and local celebrities will select the best scarecrows and the public is encouraged to vote for the “People’s Choice Award” and “Best Class Crow.” Prizes include cash, trophies and tour passes.

The cost to enter is $10 for families and individuals; $10 for classrooms (“class crow”), and $20 for businesses and organizations.  Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation. To enter, visit More information may also be found by calling (803) 252-1770 ext. 24 or emailing

High resolution photos from past year’s are posted on the Foundation’s Flickr account for immediate download.  Direct link:  (click on desired photo thumbnail, right-click to select “large” photo size, then click “download large size of this photo”).  Members of the media are encouraged to contact Ashley Tucker at 803.252.7742 ext 16 or for more information.

Other Scarecrow Events Include:

Sculpting Scarecrows Workshop: Saturday, September 22, Noon – 2 pm
Meets at the Hampton-Preston Mansion, 1615 Blanding Street
$20 for families and $25 for organizations (includes contest entry fees)

Those interested in entering the Scarecrows in the Garden Contest are encouraged to attend the Sculpting Scarecrows Weekend Workshop on September 22 from Noon – 2 pm. Participants in the workshop will create and decorate a spooky, dazzling, or life-like scarecrow during the workshop.  The workshop is not required for participation in the contest, but is available for those interested. Participants should come to the workshop with a clear idea of what they’d like to create, bringing items from home to personalize their scarecrow.  Materials provided in the workshop: hay, PVC piping, string, and other items. Scarecrows can be taken home, or for an additional $5, entered into the contest.  Reservations required (online at, by phone 803.252.1770 ext. 24 or by email  Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation.

Scarecrows in the Garden Opening Reception and Awards: September 30, 2 – 5 pm
Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens, 1615 Blanding Street
Members: Adults/$5, Children/Free
Non-Members: Adults $7, Children 6-12 $4, Children 5 & under Free
Extra Exhibitor Passes: Adults $5, Children 6-12 $3, Children 5 & under Free

The winners of this year’s Scarecrows in the Garden contest will be announced during the opening reception and awards on September 30. Judging will take place from 2 – 3:30 pm; awards for the business/organization and family/individual categories will be announced at 4 pm. Activities include a Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt, $1 highlight tours of HCF’s House in Mourning exhibit that feature fashion, practices and traditions that were customary during the Victorian Era. HCF will also be offering participants the opportunity to see Dreadful Sorry at 5 pm. This short film was taped in the Robert Mills House. While you are here don’t forget to vote on your favorite scarecrow and “Class-crow” and let us know if you can find Sneaky Steve. Admission includes children’s crafts, light appetizers, beverages and family fun. This is a rain or shine event. Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation

Annual Scarecrows in the Garden Exhibit: September 30 – October 31
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm; Sunday: 1 pm – 5 pm
Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens, 1615 Blanding Street
FREE and Open to the Public

Take a stroll through the recently installed gardens at the historic Hampton-Preston Mansion (1615 Blanding Street) and view dozens of uniquely-crafted scarecrows from area businesses, schools, families, and organizations during this FREE public exhibit during the month of October. The exhibit showcases ghoulish, historical, and colorful scarecrow entries from this year’s Scarecrows in the Garden Contest. Activities also include a scavenger hunt and locating the “Sneaky Steve” scarecrow.

A House in Mourning: September 30 – October 31
Part of the regularly scheduled Hampton-Preston Tour
$6/adults, $3/youth, Free for members

Mourning the loss of a loved one was much more public for Americans during the 19th century than it is today.  The sadness a family felt was outwardly shown by more than just the wearing of black clothing, however.  There were certain customs observed such as covering mirrors that seem quaint to us today but were important for Victorian Americans in order to properly honor the deceased.  During the month of October, the Hampton-Preston Mansion will feature many of these mourning traditions.  Guided tours will discuss the role and importance of stages of mourning during the 1860s as a part of our regular daily tours. Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation.

Historic Hauntings Cemetery Tours: October 11, 6 – 8:30 pm (last tour starts at 8:30 pm)
Elmwood Cemetery, 501 Elmwood Avenue
$10 non-members/$5 for children of non-members (17 and under);
$5 members/$3 for children of members (17 and under)

Join Historic Columbia Foundation and Elmwood Cemetery staff for guided tours presenting some of Columbia’s eerie and peculiar past by the light of the full moon. Admission includes tour of Elmwood Cemetery, light snacks and a take-home craft for children. Reservations requested. Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation. Purchase tickets online here:

Family Day: October 27, Noon – 2 pm
Children are invited participate in a variety of autumn activities that highlight the importance of the fall harvest and history of Halloween. Scarecrows in the Garden People’s Choice Award winner will be announced. $6 for first child/$3 for each additional child/free for members. Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation.

Pumpkin Patch Early Adventures: October 2012 (month-long)
Available to private groups of 10 or more children (ages 3-8 years old).

Historic Columbia Foundation’s Early Adventures program is designed especially for daycares, birthday parties, schools, churches, clubs, and learning centers. During the month of October, Early Adventures groups will dress up like scarecrows and play games in the gardens.  Activities also include searching for a scarecrow on the loose.  All programs include story time, games, crafts and snacks and 2 activity leaders. Games and crafts will be determined according to participant’s age group.  Each program last approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the number of participants. Reservations required. $6 per child. Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation. For more information, please contact Sarah Blackwell at or 803.252.1770 ext. 33. 

Historic Columbia Foundation was founded in 1961 by a group of preservationists determined to save the Ainsley Hall House, known today as the Robert Mills House.  More than four decades later, Historic Columbia Foundation manages four historic house museums and their associated artifacts, and tells the stories of people, places and progress in Columbia and Richland County. For more information, please visit


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Garden Projects from Hampton-Preston and Robert Mills Houses featured in The State Newspaper

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Last week The State newspaper visited the Robert Mills and Hampton-Preston properties to take a look around the newly completed garden projects. Both properties underwent major changes to their landscapes during the last six months.

Read about the newly installed “My Mother’s Garden” and the first phase of the Hampton-Preston garden revitalization online here.

For more information on all of our gardens, click here.

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