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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