Styled Wedding Photoshoot at Robert Mills

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Spring is right around the corner and love is in bloom at Historic Columbia’s verdant homes. Since the 1800s, visitors have traveled hundreds of miles to see our gardens. Seibels House was often mentioned in 19th- and 20th-century travelogues and articles with writers fawning over the foliage; postcards with the Hampton-Preston grounds have made their way across the globe since 1918; and at the Robert Mills House, fifty years of careful restorations have made our ornamental gardens a wedding destination.

We were so pleased to host Nicole Lauren Photography for an intimate photoshoot at the beautiful Robert Mills House. Located just blocks away from the heart of Downtown Columbia, the home’s lush greenscape makes it feel as though you’ve left the city entirely.

Our horticulturalists work to ensure that the same orderliness which was used to design the mansion is also employed in the landscape. Neat hedgerows frame the back lawn and add texture to the site. Our carefully-maintained magnolias evoke Southern charm as they cast speckled shadows across our two heirloom vegetable gardens.

The home’s architecture itself makes for a beautiful backdrop. We especially love the couple’s incorporation of the white brick arcade into their portraits. In Spring, there’s no better place to experience golden hour than under the eves of the Robert Mills House.

Victoria and Andrew’s shoot was also featured on Nichole Lauren’s lovely blog!

Ready to book your event in our gardens? Please call Brittany at 803.252.7742 x 11 or visit our rentals page for more information.

Photos & Flower Arrangement: Nicole Lauren Photography
Hair: Pretty & Pinned
Makeup: Absurdly Gorgeous
Cake: Silver Spoon Bake Shop
Paper Goods: Iris & Marie Letterpress

Actors: Victoria & Andrew

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Action Alert! Save History in SC Classrooms

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2020 Proposed South Carolina Social Studies College and Career Ready Standards


The purpose of academic standards is to provide the basis for the development of local curricula and statewide assessment of student learning. The Social Studies Standards were created to prepare students for success as engaged citizens. In 2016, the cyclical review process began to realign the 2011 South Carolina Social Studies Academic Standards. The proposed standards were posted online for public review on Dec. 5, 2017. The cyclical review of the 2011 South Carolina Social Studies Standards revealed a drastic shift from content-based standards to skills-based standards.

Through social studies, students learn the content of history, economics, political science, geography, and teachers impart the skills necessary for students to read, write, speak and listen in each of the aforementioned disciplines. Content is key and integral to social studies. Content is the lens through which social studies teaches 21st century skills and career preparedness. Social studies does not need to become skills-based to remain relevant. If we move forward with standards that are skills-based, content will become marginalized in our K-12 schools and our students will graduate from high school with limited knowledge and understanding of their nation’s heritage, government, economy and role in international affairs.

Take Action

There is still time to voice your concerns over the proposed 2020 Social Studies College and Career Ready Standards. Here are ways you can help.

  • Contact your elected officials. Click here to search for your legislator.
  • Contact Superintendent Molly Spearman. Click here for her direct contact information.
  • Post on your personal social media.
  • Email and/or call your friends, family and colleagues and asking them to voice their concerns.

Template Message (Note: This is a sample message and it is recommended to personalize this message before sending.)

“I am reaching out to you today as your constituent to voice my concerns with the proposed 2020 Social Studies College and Career Ready Standards. These new standards present a dramatic shift from the current standards, which have been rated as some of the top academic standards in the nation. The proposed standards are vague, lack content and context, completely remove segments of history and do not prepare students for civic engagement.

I urge you to engage a comprehensive and diverse group to revisit the proposed standards, using the current A-rated standards as a base to build upon. The South Carolina Department of Education, along with a committee consisting of educators, professors, public historians, museum curators, public officials and private citizens, should provide clear standards that state what every child from kindergarten through 12th grade should know to be an engaged citizen. This content should be the foundation of 2020 standards.

Please take time to speak with parents, teachers and community leaders to fully understand how this proposal will impact future students in our state.”

Additional Talking Points

  • There are few remnants of the current standards in the proposed standards.
    • The revised standards should have the current 2011 standards as the foundation. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave the 2011 South Carolina Social Studies Academic Standards a score of ten out of ten (content and rigor, 7/7 and clarity and specificity, 3/3).
  • The proposed standards are vague.
    • By shifting the framework for the standards, required content is exceedingly vague and does not provide specificity of the content. There should be no uncertainty of what is required to be taught at any grade in South Carolina public schools. Standards should be clear and specific. The proposed standards are not.
    • Here is a short sample as to how the current kindergarten standards read:
      • Standard K-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the values that American democracy represents and upholds.”
        • Enduring Understanding: The core values of American democracy are reflected in the traditions and history of our country. To make connections among those traditions, history, and values, students will utilize the knowledge and skills set for in the following indicators.
      • Here is a short sample as to how the proposed kindergarten standards read:
        • Standard 3: Utilize the college and career skills of an economist to understand how economic decisions affect one’s personal community.
          • Enduring Understanding: Fundamental economic concepts introduced in kindergarten are developed throughout social studies education and impact one’s everyday choices.
        • They eliminate teaching segments of history.
          • The goal to broaden education standards and replace content with skill has resulted in a serious omission of minority histories and key historical events and concepts. After facing backlash from the community and media for omitting the Holocaust, the 2020 standards have since been edited to omit this mistake. However, many segments of history remain largely absent, including African American, Native American and Women’s History.
            • African Americans are only mentioned five times, Native Americans are only mentioned six times (specific tribes are omitted), and Women are only mentioned four times throughout the 124-page document, while other minority groups remain absent.
            • In the 2011 standards, African Americans are mentions 19 times, Native Americans are mentioned 21 times (and various tribes are mentioned, including the Cherokee, Catawba, and Yemasee), Women are mentioned 20 times, and various minority groups are listed throughout the 138-page document.
          • They do not prepare students for civic engagement.
            • The transition to standards that are skills-based will produce students with limited knowledge and understanding of their nation’s past events, government, economy and role in international affairs, thus limiting their ability to grow into productive members of society who are capable of making a difference in the civic life in their communities and nation. Understanding the context of past events increases the likelihood that students make good decisions in the future that are inclusive for all community members.
          • They limit opportunities for students to apply what they’ve learned outside of the classroom.
            • Without content and context, there is no longer a need for teachers to engage students in activities outside of the classrooms, including field trips to museums and historic sites. These cultural resources allow students to experience hands-on history just as science labs allow students to practice what they learn. Without exposure to these institutions, students lose opportunities to experience new world views and apply hands-on experience that reinforce 21st century skills.

Recommendations on Improving Current Standards

  • Pull in a comprehensive and diverse group to rewrite the proposed standards. The South Carolina Department of Education, along with a committee consisting of educators, professors, public historians, museum curators, public officials and private citizens, should provide clear standards that state what every child from kindergarten through 12th grade should know to be an engaged citizen. The content should be the foundation of the 2020 South Carolina Social Studies College-and-Career Ready Standards.
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True Love at the Robert Mills House

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I was a newspaper photographer when I was a much younger man. During the late 1990s, as that field began to shrink, I went back to graduate school then on to work in the museum field. I’m still a shutterbug though, and I still shoot good old fashioned negative film from time to time. Having a camera (which also happens to be a cell phone) in my pocket allows me to snap photos for work and for fun every day. That accessibility also allows me to occasionally take a photograph that’s more than a snapshot; one that jumps out as something that must be captured and shared. Taking this couple’s photograph was one of those unplanned moments. While the image speaks for itself largely, it also has an interesting back story that I’ve been asked to share.
Securing and locking up Historic Columbia’s four historic house museums takes about an hour every evening. Every room, every external door, and every shutter must be checked and secured in each house, then alarms activated and gates locked. It’s one of those less than exciting but extremely important tasks of day-to-day operations that folks don’t think about unless it’s your responsibility.

Recently while locking up the Robert Mills, I’ll admit I jumped when I came around a corner to see someone with their face and hands pressed against a window peeking in the basement. I think I startled him as well-me thinking someone was trying to get in and him thinking goodness knows what was moving around in an empty house. We both waved to each other and with an elevated pulse rate I continued to lock the house. Sometimes we still have visitors on site when the Museums staff person begins locking up process which is not a big deal, and we don’t rush anyone away. When I exited, I saw the man again, this time with a companion.

In striking up a conversation with visitors in such circumstances, I introduce myself ask if they missed the last tour. If they are from Columbia, I invite them back and tell them what time tours start the next day. If they are from out of town, I’m usually able to give them at least a quick walk through of a first floor so they don’t leave disappointed. This time I was happy to meet Reverend Ed Lochstampfor who pointed up to a room on the first floor and said, “I used to live there.”

I soon learned that Rev. Lochstampfor and his wife Charlotte met and fell in love while students of Columbia Bible College which used the Robert Mills property as part of their campus from the 1930s to 1960s. I invited the Lochstampfors inside for a quick tour, but they declined saying they didn’t want to hold me up, and they were just there to walk the grounds. We spoke for a few more minutes, not more than ten in total, but throughout I got a sense of the depth of their relationship. Charlotte told me that she married Ed because she knew she’d have an exciting life with him. Apparently, she chose wisely because after they graduated in 1953, they married and were off to France for language school. The couple eventually served as missionaries for over 30 years in West Africa all the while raising a family. I’ve since learned they wrote a book about their experiences, “While There’s Still Time,” which is an account of their work in Burkina Faso and Guinea in West Africa.

We said our goodbyes, but we spoke of them returning for a longer conversation about their time here. As they walked out the gate ahead of me this moment appeared, and I scrambled to get my phone out to make the photograph. The realization is not lost on me that as well preserved as the house and grounds are, without seeing this couple literally walking down memory lane holding hands, I’d never have considered that a lifelong romance could have started at the Robert Mills. I’m thankful I was in the right place at the right time which is always the key to taking a meaningful photograph.

Fielding Freed
13 February 2018

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Preservation After Tax Reform

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By Sean Stucker, HC director of facilities

As the dust settles on the tax reform of 2017, preservationists are taking stock of what was won and what was lost.

Following five years of advocacy by a coalition that includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition — as well as countless state and local organizations and individual preservationists—the historic tax credit (HTC) survived the most massive rewrite of the tax code in more than 30 years.

Bolstered by this advocacy and by support from business leaders and other stakeholders across the country, longtime HTC supporters in Congress worked with the House Historic Preservation Caucus to make sure the HTC remained a part of the tax reform conversation.

As a result, an amendment to maintain the HTC at 20 percent was introduced. Notwithstanding the “revenue positive” history of the HTC, holdouts against the amendment insisted the “cost” of the program be offset, which was achieved by requiring the HTC be taken over five years instead of in its entirety the year a rehabilitated building is complete.

The fate of other associated tax credits was a bit of a mixed bag. The 10 percent historic rehabilitation tax credit for pre- 1936 non- historic buildings was eliminated, and, while the nine percent and four percent low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and the new markets tax credit (NMTC)— which faced elimination in the original House bill—were retained.

The final version did eliminate the ability for NMTCs to offset the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT), which means investors may have less incentive to use these credits since they cannot be used to offset other tax liabilities elsewhere.

In the end, advocacy won the day. With their decision to preserve the HTC, Congress affirmed what all preservationists already know: incentivizing historic property redevelopment makes good economic sense.

Moreover, it was affirming to see one of South Carolina’s own senator Tim Scott as a cosponsor of the amendment showing he understands the value of our built history.

To find out how you can support Historic Columbia’s preservation efforts and for more reasons why #PreservationMatters, visit

This piece was first published in The Columbia Star.

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Jennifer Leaphart’s Art Nouveau Bridal Session

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We love when photographers showcase new perspectives at our historic properties. Through her lens, Caitlin from Coral Dove Photography transformed our gardens into a lush and mystical landscape fit for the most ornate New Orleans hothouse (which is perfect, because Jen and Hunter’s wedding was all about Louisiana nouveau).

From her headpiece to her beaded, open-backed gown, all the way down to her deep red pumps, Jen was the picture of Art Nouveau. And just as the artists of the 1910s found beauty in the natural world, this bridal session finds beauty in the gardens of Seibels House.

On the home’s exterior, the wraparound porch and garden make for a unique runway. We love Caitlin’s shot of Jen ducking though our wrought-iron gate into the Kitchen Garden. The ceremony and reception gardens, designed by Jenks Farmer, emerge transformed with each new season. Although in the heart of Downtown Columbia, the gardens of Seibels House envelop the senses and transport you to a lush landscape from years ago.

Jen took full advantage of the variety of spaces and textures found in and around Seibels House. The exposed brick and rustic 19th century paneling of the rear parlor contrast beautifully with the bride’s lace gown and veil. The foyer’s neoclassical detailing and abundance of natural light offer the opportunity for full-length portraits. The delicate beadwork and drapery of Jen’s dress perfectly complements the architecture of Columbia’s oldest home.

As always, the signature Seibels House sunporch makes a beautiful portrait studio. We love the incorporation of the checkerboard marble floor into the bridal bouquet image. The bouquet itself is lovely with deep reds and misty greens. Can’t you just smell the eucalyptus?

We are thrilled that Jen chose to capture her special moment with us at Historic Columbia. Almost as thrilled as we are to share it with you.

Ready to book your bridal session?

Visit our rentals page for more information or call Brittany at 803.252.7742 ext. 11.

Flowers – White House Flowers (Jennifer Pryor)

Dress, Veil, and Headpiece – London and Lace (Lisa and Kevin Kyzer)

Photography – Coral Dove Photography (Caitlin Taylor)

Hair & Makeup – Jennifer Leaphart

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Historic Districts are Working for You

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Sean Stucker, Director of Facilities

There has been recent concern over local historic district regulations in certain Columbia neighborhoods. Specifically, some Columbia citizens are concerned over the process owners must follow to renovate or make changes to their historic properties.

Historic Columbia understands how certain regulations might be seen as challenging in the short term, but when dealing with historic properties, it’s important to focus on the long-term benefits.

One major advantage for historic places is property value, plain and simple. National and local studies have shown that properties located in designated historic districts have values above average for their corresponding market. Since the value of your home is directly proportional to the value of your neighbor’s home, following consistent guidelines holds everyone to a higher standard.

There is a savings value as well. For example, repairing existing historic wooden windows is a more cost effective and environmentally-friendly way of maintaining your home.

While vinyl windows are guaranteed to begin failing within 20-30 years after installation, wood windows can be repaired and maintained, and as a result, can last for hundreds of years.

In addition to the value arguments, historic societies and districts have a positive community impact because they give us a unique “sense of place.” Old neighborhoods and their buildings, serve as the tangible backdrop for stories and memories. There is a reason people fall in love with these kinds of places. There’s a reason Soda City Market started in one historic building (701 Whaley) and moved into the heart of a historic district where it (and its home district) has thrived.

The idea people don’t like being told what they can and cannot do with their property has a long history in the Unites States, but the practice of regulating property and its uses has an equally long history. Take, for example, zoning. Most of us think it is a good idea to designate certain property uses away from or in relation to others, and as a result, almost all urban areas in this country have some form of zoning regulations.

There’s also the matter of homeowner associations. HOAs are permitted to place restrictions on things ranging from pet ownership to the types of flags owners can fly outside their homes, from what colors homes can be painted to how tall grass is supposed to be. HOAs can also play a role in the determination of which additions should be made to a house.

Every investment has pros and cons and should be considered through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis. In the case of our built and cultural heritage, the evidence favors preservation.

Check out some images of successful preservation projects in Shandon, Hollywood Rose Hill and Melrose Heights. Also look out for Historic Columbia’s Preservation Workshop series coming up in the spring.

This article was originally published in The Columbia Star.


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Love is Brewing at Historic Columbia

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Historic Columbia’s four downtown properties offer the perfect venue to host your next celebration. Whether it’s a fairy tell wedding, a staff retreat, a birthday party or a family reunion—whatever you need, Historic Columbia can accommodate you and your group.

Emily and Jesse Folk chose to make history on their wedding day at the Seibels House, Columbia’s oldest home. Located in the heart of the Robert Mills Historic District, this property was built around 1796 and has been a place of reflection and celebration for more than 200 years.

It’s easy to make the Seibels House feel like your own with customizable seating layouts as well as a flexibility to fit your style. While the house itself has a classic feel, its versatility allows renters to paint with their own contemporary brush. Emily and Jesse brought their own new Southern style on their wedding day.

The couple was married in the ceremony garden, used the patio and lawn for cocktails and hosted the reception on the home’s first floor. Emily and Jesse strung lights across the lawn to create an open-air “room” for their guests to sip and savor in at dusk. Over the course of an evening, the Seibel’s signature black-and-white tiled sun porch can go from a perfect portrait studio to a cocktail reception space to a dance floor.

The Seibels House also has private suites for the couple and their party to get ready. One suite features two full-length antique mirrors and brick fireplace, while the other affords a beautiful view of the home’s gardens. (A perfect spot to peep at your guests as they arrive!)

The couple put a twist on the typical antipasto spread by switching it up with a custom pickle bar from local favorite War Mouth. Growlers from the couple’s favorite local bars and breweries served as funky and playful centerpieces. (Jesse’s boutonniere was a fun combination of hops & wheat pinned neatly with a Stella Artois bottlecap.) In lieu of a guestbook, folks could sign the gorgeous rings of a cedar tree.

While the Seibels House was the perfect venue for Emily and Jesse, Historic Columbia does offer three other properties for you to choose from: the romantic Robert Mills Carriage House & Gardens, the stately Gardens of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, and the whimsical Gardens of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home.

Too difficult to choose? Why not host your ceremony on the grounds of the Robert Mills House, then stroll across to the magnolia alley at Hampton-Preston for the reception? Or have your rehearsal dinner in the Robert Mills Carriage House, and your ceremony under the canopy at Woodrow Wilson?

We invite you to explore the possibilities and schedule a tour. Our rental coordinator, Brittany Buckner, is here to make your event one for the history books. To learn more, visit, call (803) 252-7742 ext. 11 or email


Photographer: Alexis Schwallier

Tables/Chairs/linens: Something Borrowed

Catering: Hudson’s Classic Catering

Pickle Bar: Zarah Newton from The War Mouth

Invitation: Ali Loncar

Guest Book: Crafted by the best man

Hair & Make Up: Amy from Metropolis Salon

Bouquet & Florals: Mother of the bride

Centerpieces & decorations: Crafted by the bride

Koozies: Image Ink

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For Sale! Maltida Evans House – 2027 Taylor St.

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Historical Overview
The house at 2027 Taylor Street was once the residence of Matilda Arabella Evans, the first female African-American physician in Columbia. Built sometime between 1910 and 1919, the vernacular house went through a myriad of early owners, most of whom were employees of the nearby Southern Railroad Company, before the Evans family occupied the residence (1). In 1928, the Evans family moved from their home on Two Notch Road to this location and descendants owned or occupied the home until 2005. For years, the Matilda Evans House was the center of African-American medical and philanthropic life in Columbia (2).

Located in a predominately African-American neighborhood and a block west of Benedict and Allen Colleges, this property has played an important role in Columbia and South Carolina’s African-American culture since its association with Evans in 1928. However, from its construction until its purchase by the Evans family, the house was home to many predominately white families that earned their livelihood working on the nearby railroad and in local shops. During that period, these residents worked in occupations such as hostler, freight agent, and secretary master for the Southern Railroad.

The Evans family moved from its previous residence on Two Notch Road to 2027 Taylor Street when Matilda Evans’ niece, Jessie L. Hill, purchased the property. From 1928 to 1935, Columbia City Directories listed both Hill and Evans as primary residents of the home. After Evans’ death in 1935, Hill continued to own the property until 1997, when it was deeded to Hill’s niece, Etta Trottie. In 2005, Trottie’s nieces and nephews sold the property to Robert B. Lewis, a Columbia attorney with experience in adaptive use of historic properties.

Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans

A physician and philanthropist known to both Columbia’s black and white communities, Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans was born in Aiken, South Carolina, in 1872 and formally educated at Oberlin College and the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania with specialties in obstetrics, gynecology, and surgery. Evans was Columbia’s first African-American woman to practice medicine and the second African-American woman to practice medicine in the state of South Carolina (3). In 1901, Dr. Evans established the Taylor Lane Hospital, which was both a hospital and training school for nurses. Undaunted when the building was destroyed by fire, Evans started another, larger hospital facility, St. Luke’s Hospital and Training School for Nurses. St. Luke’s closed in 1918 allowing Dr. Evans to serve in the Medical Service Corps of the United States during World War I (4).

Dr. Evans’ role in Columbia’s history goes beyond medicine. Evans founded a weekly newspaper, The Negro Health Journal of South Carolina, to educate families throughout the state on proper health care procedures. She was instrumental in the establishment of Linenwood Park, a park for African-American children that boasted a swimming pool and recreational center located at the corner of Two Notch Road and Beltline Boulevard. Dr. Evans also served as the President of the Congaree Medical Association and the Palmetto State Medical Association.

Dr. Evans used her property as a medical clinic until a hospital could for Columbia’s African American citizens. She also attended to white female patients at this clinic who wished to keep their medical problems private and outside their social circles. With the fees Evans received from her white patients, she built clinics and gave free care to African Americans, especially children.

By the 1930s, 2027 Taylor Street had become a meeting place for black business, religious and community leaders to discuss problems associated with segregation. These meetings promoted the creation of the Columbia Clinic Association.

Architectural Overview
Located on the north side of Taylor Street only feet from the sidewalk, 2027 Taylor Street is a simple vernacular-built two-story home that reflects the Colonial Revival style of late 19th/early 20th century homes. Originally, the front elevation consisted of a flat porch roof supported by three round Tuscan columns—which also served as the second-story porch (as seem in the mid-1920s picture taken by local photographer Richard Samuel Roberts), a brick porch foundation, and a round pediment over the porch stairs that marked the entry of the house. Today, a hipped asphalt roof has replaced the original porch roof.

The house is predominately rectangular shaped (as shown in the 1919 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map at right) with an asphalt-covered, clipped-gable roof and a bargeboard gable facing south. The structure is two bays wide at the south/front elevation and five bays deep, with an enclosed two-story porch on the north/rear elevation. The siding is the original wood clapboard that has been painted white. Throughout the house the windows are double-hung two-over-two with green shutters. The foundation is clay brick piers and the chimneys are also constructed of clay brick. The front door is a four-panel recessed wood door with decorative glass transom. By the time it was purchased from the family in 2005, the house was suffering from disrepair and covered in white vinyl siding. Under Lewis’s ownership, the siding was removed and many of the original features were preserved.

  1. Columbia City Directories, 1910-1914.
  2. Kathryn Silva. National Register of Historic Places nomination; Evans, Matilda Arabella Home. Written October 29, 2006.
  3. Darlene Clark Hine, “The Corporeal and Ocular Veil: Dr. Matilda A. Evans (1872-1935) and the Complexity of Southern History,” The Journal of Southern Medicine, (Vol. LXX, No.1, Feb.2004) 23.
  4. Palmetto Leader, Columbia, SC. March 22, 1930.

This property is now for sale. It is a local landmark, so the Bailey Bill tax abatement is available, and it is potentially eligible for state and federal tax credits. Contact the listing agent: Charles Adams, at Osmium Realty, 803.800.1145 for more details.

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Gifts from Historic Holidays

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By: Kathryn Kaslow

Diving into the imagination, playing dress up, hosting skits and talent shows for parents and friends—children have been dreaming up different ways to play for hundreds of years.

In 2017, it’s easy for a child to find entertainment. Conversely, because they did not have smartphones, video games, or TVs, children living in the mid-1800s relied heavily on creativity to entertain themselves.

Not all children received lavish gifts on Christmas. For some families, an orange in your stocking meant Santa had been generous. However, if a family could afford it, parents may have bought their children toys like the one pictured.

“The Visit of Santa Claus to the Happy Children,” made around 1870, is an example of a moving panorama.

Toymakers used the latest printing technology (chromolithography) to mass-produce a series of drawings on rolls of paper. A crank on each end could move the scroll in either direction, and the children narrated the scenes that passed by.

The panorama included a script that described how the main character, an adult, decided to immerse himself in the world of children and their light-hearted play in order to find happiness in life. The story culminated with a Christmas scene and the unveiling of Santa Claus as the narrator.

The manufacturer, Milton Bradley (a name associates with Christmases past, present, and future) also emphasized the toy’s educational value. Some of the scenes imparted moral lessons, and the instructions encouraged children to make up their own stories if they became bored with the script. Parents could use this toy to teach reading, speaking, composition, and art.

From a child’s perspective, though, playing with a panorama was pure fun. The scroll of pictures came in an ornate box decorated to resemble a theatrical stage. Some children even used curtains to frame their “stage.”

By hiding behind these curtains, the narrator could give the illusion he or she was invisible, and the scenes progressed on their own (almost like a movie).

Spectators would receive tiny tickets to the show, which usually took place in the parlor. Parlor theatrical performances were just one way that upper and middle-class families spent their leisure time, and children would have been delighted to receive gifts like these over the holidays.

If you’re interested in getting a closer look at holidays past, be sure to visit the Robert Mills House and the Hampton Preston Mansion through December 31 for Historic Columbia’s holiday tours.

This article was published originally in The Columbia Star.

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Urgent Action Needed: Advocate for a 20% HTC in Final House/Senate Reconciled Bill

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Senate Passes Tax Reform Bill with a 20% Historic Tax Credit, HTC Eliminated in House,
Urgent Action Needed: Advocate for a 20% HTC in Final House/Senate Reconciled Bill

Early on Saturday morning, the United States Senate passed its tax reform bill on a vote of 51-49, moving the legislation to a House and Senate Conference Committee to reconcile the two versions of tax reform. The Senate bill restores the 20% Historic Tax Credit (HTC) with a provision that it will be claimed over five years.


In November, Senate Finance Committee legislation eliminated the pre-1936 10% non-historic “old-building” credit and reduced the 20% HTC to 10%. HTC advocates were successful in working with Senator Cassidy (R-LA), and other Finance Committee Senators, to support a provision to restore the HTC to 20% for historic buildings. As a cost saving measure, the “Cassidy Amendment” provided that the 20% credit will be released over the 5-year compliance/recapture period (or 4% per year). The Finance Committee approved the provision, which was included in a Manager’s Amendment, on a party line vote.

The House passed a tax reform bill on November 16th. The House version of the bill eliminates both the 10% pre-1936 non-historic “old building” credit and the 20% HTC. With House Republicans highly motivated for a legislative win, few Republicans voted against the bill.

Next Steps

House members will still have an opportunity to voice their continuing support of the HTC when the House and Senate negotiate the final tax package. Many House members and supporters of the HTC have encouraged House Leadership to accept the improvements in the Senate bill and advocates are encouraged THIS WEEK to continue sending this message to their Members of Congress.

While advocates are disappointed they could not fully restore the 20% HTC to current law and prevent the elimination of the 10% pre-1936 rehabilitation credit, they are standing their ground, insisting on the Senate provision and that no further erosion takes place.

Your immediate ACTION is needed!


Please consider joining Historic Columbia to voice your opposition to the elimination of the Historic Tax Credit. Contact your Representative and let them know that we will be watching their vote on this important issue that has moral and economic ramifications for communities across our country.

For a robust preservation advocacy toolkit including talking points and statistics developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, please CLICK HERE.

In Columbia, we are represented by Congressmen Jim Clyburn and Congressman Joe Wilson. You can find your House member HERE.

Congressman Jim Clyburn

Chief of Staff:

Legislative staff:

Congressman Joe Wilson

Chief of Staff:

Legislative Director:

Legislative staff

It is also not too early to contact Senator Graham and Senator Scott.

Senator Tim Scott

Chief of Staff:

Legislative Director:

Tax Legislative Asst:

Senator Lindsay Graham

Chief of Staff:

Legislative Director:

Tax Legislative Asst:

Taking action won’t take long and is important for building the groundswell we will need to save the Historic Tax Credit.

Thank you for helping Historic Columbia shine a light on this important issue.

Great HTC #TBT from Cola Today

More on the HTC from The Columbia Star


Call (during office hours) the offices of your Members of Congress. Ask to speak to tax staff, your staff contacts in offices or ask for email addresses of tax staff.

A suggested outline of your email message or phone call:

1. Introduce Yourself as a Constituent

Republican House Members: Say “I am extremely concerned that the House eliminated the Historic Tax Credit, an important community redevelopment incentive available to revitalize our main streets, towns, and cities and preserve our heritage. Will you please work with House leadership to include the Senate’s 20% Historic Tax Credit provision in the final tax package when you work out the differences in the House and Senate bills?”

Contact info:

Republican Senators: Say ““I would like to thank the Senator for supporting a tax reform bill that includes a 20% Historic Tax Credit in Senate tax reform bill. This is a significant improvement compared to the elimination in the House bill. Please communicate to Senate Republican Leaders and Chairman Hatch (R-UT) that they must not weaken important protections for the Historic Tax Credit when they reconcile the House and Senate bills.”

Contact info:

2. Explain why you value Historic Tax Credits, and that the redevelopment of historic buildings will not get done without the HTC.

3. Let them know some previous and future HTC projects in your state/district (Link to State HTC Map and Project List under Advocacy Resources below).

4. Touch on why these historic buildings are so challenging but important to our communities.

5. If your Member of Congress has agreed to help, please remember to thank them and tell others about their support!

It is extremely important to keep all Capitol Hill communication constructive and respectful.


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