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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Enjoy Cemetery Tours, Dollar Sunday & Summer Camp this July with HC!

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Historic Columbia’s house museums will be closed Saturday, July 4, but you can still get your fill of history this month with a moonlight stroll through Elmwood Cemetery, a dollar tour of Historic Columbia’s Robert Mills House and more.

Moonlight Cemetery & Secrets from the Grave Tours
Thursday, July 9 at 7:30, 8 and 8:30 pm

One hundred and sixty years of history will come to life during our popular Cemetery Tours! Grab your flashlight as we tour one of Columbia’s oldest cemeteries and discover centuries of stories etched in stone on the markers and headstones preserved within Elmwood Cemetery’s acres of carefully planned grounds. The perfect after-work activity, Historic Columbia’s cemetery tours are an event the whole family will enjoy.

HC Members: $8 adults, $4 youth. Non-members: $12 adults, $6 youth. 501 Elmwood Ave.

Mission: History Summer Camp
Monday, July 13 through Friday, July 17, 9 am – 4 pm

History will come to life through interactive activities and exploration of the gardens, grounds and houses of Historic Columbia. Children ages 8 to 12 are invited to take an adventure in time as we explore what it was like to live in the past! Each day, kids will have a mission to explore a different aspect of history including food, archaeology, music, art, storytelling and even silent film through games, crafts and play.

Registration is required. HC member youth: $160. Non-member youth: $200.

Dollar Sunday at Historic Columbia: Robert Mills House
Sunday, July 19, 1 – 4 pm

Residents of Richland and Lexington counties are invited tour one of Historic Columbia’s house museums for just $1! Each month, HC chooses one of its four properties to feature for Dollar Sunday on a rotating basis, and in July, the featured house will be the Robert Mills House.

Free for HC members. $1 for residents of Richland and Lexington counties. All others $8 adults, $5 youth. The Hampton-Preston Mansion is located at 1615 Blanding Street. Purchase admission at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills, 1616 Blanding Street.

For more information about Historic Columba and to purchase admission to these events, visit or call 803.252.1770 x 23.


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Robert Mills Goes to Belgium

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This guest blog was written by HC Director of Historic House Museums Fielding Freed.

The staff of the Cultural Resources department at Historic Columbia stays busy interacting with the public and often this means answering questions posed to us via our electronic media. Questions usually come from within South Carolina and the United States, so it was really cool to get an inquiry recently from some high school students in Belgium who asked if we had any architectural renderings of the Robert Mills House.

I was able to link them to the Historical American Buildings Survey site which contains a treasure trove of Mills’ work. I was curious to know how their project would turn out and told them so, and they promised to get back to me. Some weeks later they did, apologizing for any grammatical mistakes in their recap (I assured them that their English was much better than my French).Belgian RMH model

They explained later that:

“We are Lauren, Kiara and Samantha from Belgium, our architecture teacher gave us a list of architects and we had to pick one, we had picked out Robert Mills, the project started with finding out about everything that Robert Mills had made. In the end we also had to pick one building that we wanted to make out of cardboard. We had chosen the Robert Mills House because we all enjoyed the way it was built and the building was just beautiful in our eyes. We started with making the house, we had a few problems on the road while making it but in the end it turned out really good. We are really proud that it turned out looking really good. We hope that we can visit the Robert Mills House by ourselves one day. ”

The photograph of the trio with their project would have pleased Robert Mills, I think.  To know that his work still elicits interest and an appreciation for its beauty reminds me of why our stewardship of the site is relevant and important. Thank you Lauren, Kiara and Samantha for helping keep the memory of his architecture alive and we hope to see you walk through the front door of the Mills House one day.

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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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Call for Scarecrows: Enter Historic Columbia’s Scarecrows in the Garden Contest

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Scarecrows are invading the Robert Mills House! Enter your historical, ghoulish or traditional handcrafted scarecrows in Historic Columbia’s annual Scarecrows in the Garden Contest by September 29 to compete for cash, trophies and tour passes.

The contest is open to individuals, families, businesses, schools and organizations, and participants are welcome to enter more than one scarecrow. The cost to enter a scarecrow is $10 for individuals, families and school classrooms and $20 for businesses and organizations. Register for a scarecrow kit for by Wednesday, September 17 to help you get started on your scarecrow. Kits are $15 and will be available for pick up starting on September 18.

Enter your scarecrow at, by calling 803.252.1770 x 23 or by emailing All scarecrows must be delivered to the Robert Mills House & Gardens, 1616 Blanding St., from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28 or on Monday, September 29 from 9 am to 5 pm. You may also call 803.252.1770 x 23 to schedule an appointment to drop off your scarecrow.

Not sure how to make a scarecrow? Join Historic Columbia for a workshop at 1 pm on Saturday, September 20 at the Robert Mills Carriage House, 1616 Blanding St., to learn the skills needed to create a masterpiece. For $15, participants will receive guided instructions, a scarecrow kit and inspiration from scarecrows that have visited the gardens in previous years, and participants should bring clothes and items from home to personalize their scarecrows. After the workshop, take your scarecrow home to decorate this fall or enter your scarecrow in the contest for an additional fee. Register for the workshop at, by phone at 803.252.1770 x 23 or by email

The free Scarecrows in the Garden exhibit will be on display on the grounds of the Robert Mills House and is open to the public during normal business hours Tuesdays through Sundays from October 1 through November 2. Visit the Gift Shop at Robert Mills or Historic Columbia’s Facebook page to vote for your favorite scarecrows throughout the month.

All Scarecrows in the Gardens events are presented by Palmetto Parent. For more information about the exhibit and related events, please visit, call 803.252.1770 x 23 or email

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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Visit From Landrum to Leeds: Common Ceramics in 19th-Century Columbia!

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Visit the Robert Mills House before January 31 for your last chance to see From Landrum to Leeds: Common Ceramics in 19th-Century Columbia! Presented by Wooten & Wooten, Auctions of Fine Art, Antiques & Great Estates, this exhibit has given the public a look at Historic Columbia’s growing collection of locally made and imported ceramics.

From Landrum to Leeds explores the various dining, cooking and storage wares common in 19th-century Columbia, South Carolina, and the exhibit features ceramics in a focus gallery, as well as displayed in period-appropriate settings throughout the house. Highlights include examples from the Landrum-Stork pottery, which was located in what is today Forest Acres, Edgefield pottery and a variety of imported English ceramics.

The exhibit is shown as part of the regularly-scheduled guided tours of the Robert Mills House. Tours run at the top of the hour Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm (last tour starts at 3 pm) and Sunday, 1 – 5 pm. (last tour starts at 4 pm), and are free for HC members, $8 for non-member adults and $5 for non-member youth. Purchase tour admission at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills, 1616 Blanding Street. For more information, please contact us at 803.252.1770 x 23 or

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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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One Week Until the Palladium Society’s Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ!

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Bid on local and regional vacations, concert tickets, paintings by local artists and more next week at Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ at the Robert Mills House & Gardens!

Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ, the Palladium Society’s annual silent auction, will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17. Enjoy music by The Project, food by Scott Hall of Bone-In Artisan BBQ fame, and drinks while supporting the final stage of rehabilitation of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, South Carolina’s only presidential site.

  • A two-night getaway at Chateau Relaxo at Botany Bay, Edisto Island’s first eco-retreat.
  • Two premium tickets to see Bela Fleck perform his banjo concerto, The Imposter, in May 2014.
  • Park Hopper Passes to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
  • A three-night weekend trip to Washington, D.C.

The auction ends at 9 p.m. The event is $20 for Palladium Society members, $30 for Historic Columbia members and $40 for the general public. Admission includes food and drinks, and tickets are on sale now at

The Palladium Society is a dynamic group of young professionals who support the mission of Historic Columbia through education, social and fundraising initiatives. Members have the opportunity to:

  • Network with other young professionals who are also striving to impact the community.
  • Learn about Columbia’s significant past and have a say in its future.
  • Volunteer at exciting Palladium events, such as the annual Chili Cook-off and the Silent Auction.
  • Hold leadership positions on committees.
  • Attend social events such as happy hours, pub-crawls and other activities with other young professional groups.

Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ is sponsored by Childs & Halligan, First Citizens, Willoughby & Hoefer, Mortgage Network, Blue Moon Pet Sitters, Quackenbush Architects + Planners, Dillon Construction Services, Cohn Construction Services, 701 Whaley, Hood Construction, Whole Foods, Scott Hall Catering, Conquest Brewery, Elmo Pio wines, Palmetto Party Rental Liquid Assets, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork, WXRY and Capital Places.

For more information on The Palladium Society or how to join, please visit Questions? Contact Amy Kinard at 803.252.7742 ext. 11 or

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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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