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.
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.
Columbia City Directories, 1910-1914.
Kathryn Silva. National Register of Historic Places nomination; Evans, Matilda Arabella Home. Written October 29, 2006.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.”
Celebrating the holidays often means taking part in family traditions year after year. Each activity holds meaning and value for a family—from trimming the tree to caroling in the neighborhood.
But have you ever wondered where these traditions originated? The staff and volunteers at Historic Columbia love sharing these stories with guests on tours and at programs during this time of year.
Visitors can explore two historic properties— the Robert Mills House and the Hampton-Preston Mansion—to see what a South Carolina Christmas looked like in years past. Holiday guides share fascinating tidbits on how current traditions emerged in our community while others have faded away.
One character who has changed over the years is the big man himself. The 1821 book, The Children’s Friend: A New Year’s Present, to Little Ones from Five to Twelve, reveals one of the most important animals to Santa Claus, his sleigh was pulled by one reindeer.
One year later, the poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, would further expand on our knowledge of Santa Claus. Today, we know this poem as “The Night Before Christmas.” It’s amazing to think how this poem remains popular after 195 years.
Christmas in South Carolina—especially in the 18th and 19th centuries— drew inspiration from other nations and cultures. Wreaths and greenery were fashioned from what was on hand in the nearby woods or—depending on where you lived—what grew in your yard.
The tradition of decorating with dried fruit comes from England. Mulled wine comes from the Portuguese tradition of serving hot Madiera during the holiday season.
Native South Carolinian Joel Poinsett brought Poinsettias back with him to the United States while serving as ambassador to Mexico. All these traditions are reflected in the seasonal décor at the Robert Mills House and Hampton Preston Mansion.
There are many opportunities for families to learn more about the holidays in the 19th century at Historic Columbia.