Mann-Simons Dig in the News…

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Now that the fourth and final phase of excavations at the Mann-Simons Site is coming to a close, Historic Columbia Foundation has had the honor of being featured in the news for this notable project.

Below you’ll find quick-links to recent press about the Mann-Simons dig:

–         WIS TV’s Taylor Kearns story and video

–         The State newspaper’s Noelle Phillips “Diggin’ History” story with photos: “Excavated clues tell Columbia family’s story

If you’re new to this story, refer to Jakob Crockett’s (HCF archaeologist) guest post here to get the latest.

About Mann-Simons:
Although only one house stands today, the Mann-Simons Site historically was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African-American family from at least 1843 until 1970. The property and its multiple buildings changed considerably over time to better accommodate the needs, tastes, and aspirations of this remarkable family. Learn more…

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Fourth and Final Phase of Archaeological Excavations at Mann-Simons Site Complete

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Guest post by Jakob Crockett, Archaeologist at Historic Columbia Foundation

The exposed surface of Level 2, representing the period between 1909 and 1970. The linear space between the rows of bricks was a walkway, with plantings to each side.

The fourth and final phase of archaeological excavations at the Mann-Simons Site is complete. For three months, Joseph Johnson and I excavated 386 square feet on the southwest corner of the site. The goals were threefold: (1) more fully define the nature of operations at the lunch counter; (2) recover surviving evidence of the first-generation house; and (3) better understand how the family used this yard area over time. Although findings are preliminary, five layers were identified in the field.

Moving forward in time, the bottommost layer, Level 5, represents the pre-1870s occupation of the site. This was the period of Ben Delane and Celia Mann, who were living on the corner of Richland and Marion streets by at least 1843. Consistent with other parts of the yard, few artifacts were discovered. What was discovered was the west wall of their house, the house that existed prior to the one standing today. Represented by five post holes, the wall, running north-south, measured 15-feet (the east-west dimension remains unknown). An additional post hole was discovered underneath the Richland Street sidewalk, thought to be part of the front porch.

Level 4 represents the period between the 1870s, when Ben and Celia’s house was removed and the current house built, and 1891, when John L. Simons opened a lunch counter. The space seems to have been used much as it is today: an interface between house and street, with a few plants scattered about.

 

The five primary stratigraphic layers within the southwest yard area: Level 1 (1970+), Level 2 (1909-1970), Level 3 (1891-1909), Level 4 (circa 1870s-1891), Level 5 (pre-1870s).

Level 3 was the era of the lunch counter, 1891-1909. A rich diversity of artifacts were recovered, from expected items such as bottle caps, bones and cans, to unexpected items (at least in the quantity recovered) like 1-inch copper straight pins (over 30), unfired ammunition (over 10 cartridges) and coins. Most exciting was the discovery of a brick drain. Located within the stand against the rear wall, the open drain tied into the Columbia wastewater system, which the City began to lay in 1902.

With the destruction of the counter in 1909 came the opening of the front yard space, our Level 2. The area was heavily populated with various-sized plants and a brick-lined walkway.

Level 1 was the period 1970-today, a layer highly disturbed by construction activities after the 1970 eminent domain sale and landscaping associated with museum activities.

Post holes associated with the west wall of the house occupied by Ben Delane and Celia Mann. The post hole at the bottom of the photograph is thought to be part of the front porch.

City of Columbia workers remove a five-foot section of sidewalk along Richland Street

The skeleton of a chicken was discovered at the north extent of the excavation. The fully-articulated chicken was intentionally buried in a small grave.

Excavation is only one part of archaeology. The next steps include washing and cataloging all the artifacts, digitizing field maps, integrating new findings into previous work, and of course, figuring out what it all means. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me at jcrockett@historiccolumbia.org or 803.238.7452.

About Mann-Simons:
Although only one house stands today, the Mann-Simons Site historically was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African-American family from at least 1843 until 1970. The property and its multiple buildings changed considerably over time to better accommodate the needs, tastes, and aspirations of this remarkable family. Learn more…

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Historic Columbia Foundation Seeks Museum Shop Manager

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Do you have a passion for people and a penchant for history? Historic Columbia Foundation is seeking a Museum Shop Manager.  This self-motivated individual will develop a purchasing plan and annual budget; will be responsible for maintaining stock appropriate to the mission of the Foundation; overseeing the operation of the museum gift shop including  pricing, merchandising, developing the correct product mix; monitoring budgets and inventories; implementing policies and procedures for utilizing computerized inventory systems; keeping the Museum Shop clean in appearance and displays attractive; and representing the museum gift shop at off-site opportunities. The Museum Shop Manager is also responsible for disseminating accurate information about Historic Columbia Foundation properties, activities, and city attractions.

Qualifications:
* Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or related field; or acceptable equivalent in experience * 3-5 years of retail experience, preferably in a museum, specialty store, or bookstore; Must be able to operate a computerized point-of-sale system (POS), working knowledge of Microsoft Office; A willingness to learn and carry yourself in a professional and personable manner with diverse visitors, volunteers, and staff is essential.

Please forward resumes  to dgiles@historiccolumbia.org.

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This Week in History: January 14, 1962 – "A Merchant Prince and His Mansion"

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On January 14, 1962 an article ran in The State newspaper with the following question appearing above the headline: “Will the home of Ainsley Hall Be Saved?”  The article, entitled “A Merchant Prince and His Mansion 138 Years Ago” paints a descriptive picture of the Ainsley Hall House as it was during this critical time in the history.  The State’s Kathleen Lewis Sloan writes, “On the four acre block bounded by Blanding, Henderson, Pickens and Taylor Streets, standing in majestic splendor a lone sentinel, a last reminder of a Merchant Prince of Columbia.”  Sloan goes on to write “The mansion stands waiting.  It is waiting as a gift – if Columbians and anyone interested in preserving the historical aspects of America, and South Carolina, will provide enough funds to purchase the valuable city block that lies about its doors.”

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If you’ve been following Historic Columbia Foundation’s “Preservation Matters” posts on Facebook (link here) or on this blog, then you are familiar with what happens next.  If you’re new to this space, we’re placing a link here for you: http://blog.historiccolumbia.org/the-story-of-the-robert-mills-house-rehabilitation/.

Why “Preservation Matters”
Since its inception fifty years ago, Historic Columbia Foundation has remained true to its most basic principle – to save architecturally and culturally significant places by educating the public as to their importance. After preventing the destruction of the Robert Mills House the organization grew to further serve the capital city and Richland County as a preservation advocate championing the future or historic structures. Today, Historic Columbia Foundation models historic preservation and public education at the seven historic sites under its stewardship, through public outreach within downtown and county communities alike, and by allying itself with strategic partners dedicated to improving the quality of life for contemporary and future citizens.

Ways You Can Help:

1. 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.

• Donors at the $265 level or above will receive an invitation to a special tour and reception at the newly rehabilitated Lorick House (1727 Hampton Street) as well as discounted tickets (2) to the 2012 Anniversary Gala.
• Gifts at the $1,000 level and above will also be recognized on a donor plaque in the Robert Mills Founders Garden.
• At the $7,341 level donors will also receive a copy of a limited edition of “Be It Remembered” – a 1972 publication documenting the history of HCF and the founding families. Sustaining donors will receive an updated family history and new donors will have a current family history included in the revised “Be It Remembered” book.

2. 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…

3. Become a fan of the “Preservation Matters: Columbia, SC” page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/preservationmatters) and follow us on Twitter (@histcolumbia). Your likes, comments and retweets help us spread the word about our organization.

4. 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.

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

6. 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 or wspratt@historiccolumbia.org.

 

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Last Day To Enter Our Giveaway – Prize Val $150!

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In case you missed our Facebook post about our sweepstakes, see below for details.  Just one day left to enter, prize value more than $150!

To celebrate the launch of HCF’s 50th Anniversary behind-the-scenes tours, Historic Columbia Foundation has partnered with City Center Partnership to offer a City Center gift basket AND two VIP behind-the-scenes tour tickets of “Columbia Down Under” to one lucky winner!

The prize value is more than $150! Your 2 tour tickets are redeemable to the VIP tour of “Columbia Down Under” being offered on 1/19/2012. Prize must be picked up at our Museum Shop (1616 Blanding Street) by the afternoon of 1/19/2012 to ensure you can enjoy the tour!

ENTER THE SWEEPSTAKES via Facebook here…
Sweepstakes ends at 11 pm on 1/17/2012!

For more about Historic Columbia Foundation and our VIP tours, visit http://www.historiccolumbia.org. For more information about City Center Partnership, please visit http://www.citycentercolumbia.sc.

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A Call for Cooks: 14th Annual Chili Cook-Off

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Do you make a mean bowl of “Famously Hot” chili? Then enter The Palladium Society’s 14th Annual Chili Cook-Off!

The Cook-Off will be held Saturday, February 25, 2012 from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the Ellison Building (State Fairgrounds). The deadline for contestants to enter is Feb. 21 (entry fee for contestants is $20).

To enter your recipe in our Chili Cook-Off,  please submit your payment of $20 along with the registration form here. In recent years, we’ve had close to 600 guests! Your registration fee covers your chili entry and 2 tickets (you + one guest – a value of $40!). Any additional assistants/ servers/ spouses must purchase their own tickets.

This annual event is hosted by The Palladium Society of Historic Columbia Foundation and features a variety of chili recipes from contestants, judging by local celebrities and chefs, live music and prizes for the winners.  More information about this year’s Cook-Off is found on our calendar here.

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Exclusive Tour of “Columbia Down Under” at Equitable Arcade Offered on January 19, 2012

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Equitable Arcade, home to "Columbia Down Under"

COLUMBIA, SC– (January 9, 2012) –  The Arcade Mall on Main Street has an interesting basement area that once housed “Columbia Down Under,” a series of shops, bars and eateries that operated in the early 1970s.  Historic Columbia Foundation is offering an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of “Columbia Down Under” in honor of the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary.   This tour will be offered on January 19, 2012 from 7 pm – 10 pm, meeting at the Equitable Arcade Building (1332 Main Street).

Limited tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Reservations are required. Those interested in participating in the tour are encouraged to contact Wendi Spratt at wspratt@historiccolumbia.org or 803.252.7742 ext. 12.  The cost of the tour is $25/person for general admission and $20 for Historic Columbia Foundation members (tour cost includes complimentary cocktails).

Opened in 1972, “Columbia Down Under” closed in 1974, after two short years of operation. Today, “Columbia Down Under” is remembered in popular memory as a unique attempt to capitalize on the Equitable Arcade building location and architectural layout. Mimicking the success of “Underground Atlanta,” “Columbia Down Under” was created after a year’s worth of renovations for the new nightspot. Though initially successful, “Columbia Down Under” succumbed to the suburbanization that came to plague the stores and businesses located above, in the building’s above ground levels.

This tour is one in a series of VIP tours being offered in 2012.  Others include:

Tour and cocktails at W.B. Smith Whaley House –Dunbar Funeral Home: Jan. 18, 2012

Tour and Cocktails at Woodrow Wilson Family Home and Lorick House: Feb. 8, 2012

Tour of the Curtiss-Wright Hangar and The Hangars: March 11, 201

Tour of the Powell-Wright House: April 26, 2012

Tour and Refreshments at the Guignard Brick Works: May 5, 2012

Detailed information (including cost, address and time for each tour) is available by clicking on the behind-the-scenes tour button at http://www.historiccolumbia.org.

About the tours, Robin Waites, Executive Director of Historic Columbia Foundation says, “Historic Columbia Foundation is pleased to offer this VIP tour in celebration of our 50th Anniversary.”  She goes on to say “Explore Columbia’s Main Street in a new way by venturing underground”.

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.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/histcolumbia
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/historiccolumbia
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/discoverhistory
Website: http://www.historiccolumbia.org

About City Center Partnership:
City Center Partnership, Inc. (CCP) is a non-profit organization that manages South Carolina’s only managed Business Improvement District in the 36-block area bounded by Gervais, Elmwood, Assembly, and Marion Streets in downtown Columbia and is funded by the property owners within the district boundaries.

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Join Us for Our Second Sunday Stroll of Historic Heathwood THIS Sunday, January 8 at 2 pm: FREE for Historic Columbia Foundation Members

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Join Historic Columbia Foundation during this month’s Second Sunday Stroll this Sunday, January 8 at 2 pm. We’ll be touring the historic Heathwood neighborhood.

This guided walking tour will highlight the architecture and history found within Heathwood. A FREE tour for Historic Columbia Foundation members, the cost is just $6 for non-member adults and $3 for non-member youth (17 and under).

Reserve Your Place for Sunday’s Stroll
Reservations requested but not required. Please call 803.252.1770 ext. 24 or email reservations@historiccolumbia.org. Proceeds benefit Historic Columbia Foundation. This Sunday’s Stroll will meet at Heathwood Park at 2 pm (Heathwood Park, 800 Abelia Road). The guided tour will last approximately 90 minutes. Walk-up registrations are welcome.

About Heathwood:
Columbia’s “Heathwood” neighborhood derives its name from Moses Chappell Heath, who

Image courtesy Elizabeth K. Manning

established this community east of the city in the early 20th century. Initially bounded to the north by Heatherwood, the east by Kawana, the south by Garners Ferry Road, and the west by Albion, today Heathwood is a name associated with land developed by both Heath, beginning in 1914, and his son-in-law Burwell Deas Manning, Sr., starting about 1940. Successive generations of original families remain in this tight-knit community of architecturally distinct residences with mature landscapes.

The centerpiece of M.C. Heath’s suburban development was his sprawling home – Heathwood Hall. The cost to build the Neoclassical mansion ran approximately $100,000 in 1914. Surrounded by twelve fluted columns with a broad Corinthian portico that nearly encircled the house, his testament to success also featured extensive interior details of domestic and imported woods, Italian fireplaces, and imported and domestic antiques. Ultimately, the developer’s vision for a desirable retreat from downtown Columbia led other families to build within the newly established subdivision during the 1920s and 1930s.

Image courtesy Elizabeth K. Manning

M.C. Heath’s initial vision for his suburban development was expanded following his death, as his son-in-law Burwell Deas Manning pushed beyond the neighborhood’s original boundaries to the north toward Trenholm Road. Later development also occurred east of Heathwood Park as houses were built toward what is today Beltline Boulevard. Utlimately, the success of Heathwood as a desirable suburban neighborhood has led to changes that have erased some of the area’s historic assets, including the original developer’s former mansion.

Retrace: Connecting Communities Through History

Second Sunday Strolls are a part of Historic Columbia Foundation’s Retrace: Connecting Communities Through History initiative.

Walk. Along a footpath. Down a road. Beside a railroad track. See your city then – and now – through their eyes and yours. Share a memory, a photograph, appreciate the past. Historic Columbia Foundation invites you to retrace our shared past through its series of web tours, walking tours, and wayside exhibits.

Explore six virtual tours of Columbia’s historic neighborhoods (including Heathwood) on our website. Brochures are available in the Museum Shop.

Your story could be just around the corner.

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Preservation Matters: South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Bull Street Campus

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Since its inception fifty years ago, Historic Columbia Foundation has remained true to its most basic principle – to save architecturally and culturally significant places by educating the public as to their importance. After preventing the destruction of the Robert Mills House the organization grew to further serve the capital city and Richland County as a preservation advocate championing the future or historic structures. Today, Historic Columbia Foundation models historic preservation and public education at the seven historic sites under its stewardship, through public outreach within downtown and county communities alike, and by allying itself with strategic partners dedicated to improving the quality of life for contemporary and future citizens. What follows are stories behind Historic Columbia Foundation’s evolution over five decades into a leader in historic preservation and education.

Awesome, expansive and intriguing are but a few of the adjectives that spring to mind upon touring the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Bull Street facility. Bustling with activity for generations, the sprawling 178-acre tract of land today is best characterized largely by silence punctuated by sounds beyond its walls and perimeter roads. What lies ahead for this unique Columbia community remains far from certain. However, designs for its reuse have been vigorously debated for years and the key to the most successful plans will be retaining those aspects of the property of significant cultural and historical value.

The beginnings of what ultimately became a largely self-sufficient city within a city lay in the completion of the Robert Mills-designed South Carolina State Asylum building in 1828. Advanced in design and reflecting enlightened theories of mental health treatment, this landmark structure marked a proud chapter in early state history. Currently accommodating offices for the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, this earliest portion of the venerable campus falls outside the parameter of the tract primed for redevelopment.

Building upon Mills’ design genius further architects and healthcare professionals whose combined efforts resulted in an impressive array of structures diverse in styles and purposes. Among the most significant are several facilities located largely within the westernmost portion of the campus. Holding the distinction of being the largest and oldest is the Babcock Building, whose 300,000-square-feet were developed from 1858 through the early 20th century. The expansive Italian Renaissance style structure consists of a series of multi-level blocks connected one another and a central building, a design reflecting the Kirkbride system of mental health, which called architecture that segregated men from women patients and that removed support buildings from the main facility. Today, the building’s iconic red cupola remains one of Columbia’s most readily identifiable landmarks.

Further buildings of consequence that stand within the shadow of the Babcock Building include a late-1880s laundry; male and female dining halls from the 1910s; a circa-1900 bakery; the circa-1919 Parker Annex; a mattress factory; and the 1920-era LaBorde Building. Each masonry structure features a unique design that would inspire new uses. To the north lie further facilities, including the 1938 Williams Building and the 1939 Ensor Building and the circa-1955 Benet Auditorium and Horger Library and Chapel of Hope, all of which reflect design tastes immediately before and after World War II. Lastly, a handful of 1920s-1930s era bungalows – former homes for department employees, grant instant opportunities for new owners seeking vintage residential settings.

The vitality of any community can be measured by the manner in which it cares for its citizens and for its resources – be they built or natural. With the Department of Mental Health’s Bull Street campus lies an unprecedented opportunity to ensure a sound future for  Columbia, provided the necessary steps are taken to retain those aspects of the facility that speak to its history and development.

 

Rendered during 1916, this highly detailed panoramic view of the Bull Street campus illustrates the facility’s size and the striking architecture many of its buildings feature. Image courtesy South Carolina Department of Mental Health

 

Following Columbia Bible College’s move in 1958 to its new facilities in north Columbia, most of the institution’s original downtown campus was demolished. In an effort to integrate the Bull Street campus into surrounding neighborhoods, officials at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health lowered the campus’ Bull and Calhoun street walls and installed sections of steel fencing that once surrounded the Robert Mills House property. Part of this dramatic change was the creation of an elaborate gateway along Calhoun Street (shown here) that mimicked an earlier entrance along Bull Street, shown in the 1916 panoramic view of the facility.


Designed by Samuel Sloan in 1858 and built in stages from the antebellum period through the 1890s, the sprawling Babcock Building features one of the city’s most easily recognizable landmarks – a dull red cupola that offers commanding views in all directions.


While many of the Bull Street campus’ cultural assets are apparent, others that illustrate the facility’s complex past may lie hidden beneath its soil. For instance, archaeological inspection may uncover remnants of Camp Asylum, a prison established east of the Babcock Building in December 1864 that closed following Columbia’s occupation by Union soldiers in February 1865.

 

Pride in their mental health facilities led Columbians and other South Carolinians to include references to both the 1828 Robert Mills-designed Asylum Building and the later Babcock Building in postcards of the capital city that were circulated widely during the 1910s through 1920s.

 

Pride in their mental health facilities led Columbians and other South Carolinians to include references to both the 1828 Robert Mills-designed Asylum Building and the later Babcock Building in postcards of the capital city that were circulated widely during the 1910s through 1920s.

 

Featuring a pleasing amount of architectural details, the former bakery (shown here) and laundry buildings standing within the shadow of the Babcock Building could be placed to a variety of adaptive uses.

Ways You Can Help:

1. Share any stories, images, artifacts that you have related to the Bull Street Campus in the comments below or on our Preservation Matters Facebook page.

2. Attend public meetings that provide a forum to voice your interests, concerns about the site.

3. If you have architectural, archaeological or documentary skills or interests, contact us about future volunteer opportunities at the site.

4. Spread the word about the  South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Bull Street Campus by posting a link to this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and/or your website. The direct link is: http://blog.historiccolumbia.org/?p=263

5. 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.

6. 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…

7. Become a fan of Historic Columbia Foundation AND our “Preservation Matters” pages on Facebook. One-click buttons below:

8. 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.

9. 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 or wspratt@historiccolumbia.org.

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