Friday afternoon WLTX News19 reporter Sydney Cummins visited the Mann-Simons Site to learn more about the recent additions to the property. The new (free) Outdoor Museum at the site will debut at the Foundation’s 34th Annual Jubilee Festival of Heritage on Saturday, August 18. To check out the story online, click here or click the video below.
For more information on this free festival that runs from 11 am – 5 pm at the Mann-Simons Site, visit our calendar listing here. New this year, the Foundation will also host a FREE Panel Presentation to better explain the project and as well as the discuss the importance protecting our historic assets and how the disciplines of archaeology, historic preservation and public history can be used to achieve a better understanding of important historic properties. This free panel is Thursday, August 16 at 6 pm at the Big Apple.
For more than 30 years visitors to the tidy 19th-century cottage at 1403 Richland Street in downtown Columbia learned of Charleston native Celia Mann, whose journey from enslavement to freedom and relative prosperity in the antebellum capital city gave rise to subsequent generations of entrepreneurs and leaders within its African-American citizenry. This story and the land on which Mann established her life in Columbia have been celebrated during the Jubilee Festival of Heritage each August since 1978.
Now, after seven years’ worth of concentrated archaeological and documentary research, this important South Carolina historic property is poised for a significant reinterpretation, dynamic in both content and presentation. Visitors to the 34th annual event will have an opportunity to begin viewing the site as never before, physically, historically and even philosophically.
The first change, and perhaps the most subtle, that guests will encounter is the renaming of the property, which for years was referred to as the Mann-Simons Cottage. While it was commonly known that the family’s holdings included far more buildings than the extant cottage, the sole survivor of urban renewal efforts in 1970, most people viewed that structure as the property’s most important facet due to its understood physical link to Celia Mann. However, subsequent architectural study of the building, performed within the past two years, determined that the association with Mann was faulty – the cottage’s date of construction fell between 1873 and 1880, well after the matriarch’s death in 1867. This discovery, coupled with extensive evidence discovered during archaeological excavations (and admittedly a change in the way significance is perceived through the discipline of archaeology), led Historic Columbia Foundation to look more holistically at the property, hence its name change to the Mann-Simons Site, which is what all official documentation has referred to since 2011.
Soon thereafter, Dr. Jakob Crockett, Archaeology Coordinator for Historic Columbia Foundation and primary investigator for the Mann-Simons African American Archaeology Project, developed a focus exhibit within the cottage that highlighted themes of identity vis-à-vis mass production and the consumption of goods during the Jim Crow era, as embodied by artifacts recovered from a lunch counter the family ran from 1891 until 1909. His efforts marked the first time since 2001 that the Foundation had created an entirely new exhibit within the building and the first involving materials that he and archaeologists working under his guidance had recovered at the site.
Moving beyond the assets found below ground Historic Columbia Foundation staff then pondered ways in which the Mann-Simons Site’s past may be interpreted in further compelling new ways. Inspired by three-dimensional representations of former buildings at St. Mary’s City, Maryland, Benjamin Franklin’s House in Philadelphia and Pole Green Chapel, near Richmond, Virginia, Foundation staff conceived of erecting ghost structures, or frames, representing the exact placement and footprints of buildings that stood at the Mann-Simons property during the early 20th century. This vision became a reality during the spring of 2012 following a year-long partnership with students and faculty of Richland School District One’s Heyward Career and Technology Center, dedicated volunteers and corporate partners in erecting four steel structures.
This August, these impressive frames will mingle with tents and displays at Jubilee and visitors to the site will, for the first time since 1970, be able to appreciate the former complexity of the Mann-Simons households. By late fall wayside signage and an enhanced website, products partially underwritten through a Humanities CouncilSC grant, will accompany these skeletal structures, so that by 2013, visitors to this National Register of Historic Places-listed site will experience well beyond a fragment of what their forebears could. Through these dynamic interpretive tools the Mann-Simons Site’s significance will be more fully appreciated by visitors to South Carolina’s capital city.
Worth a Thousand Words
Redevelopment of the west portion of the block bounded by Marion, Calhoun, Bull and Richland streets was in the planning stages by the late 1960s, as real estate appraisals of properties there and in the surrounding blocks were made to determine values for parcels needed for construction of a high-rise apartment building by the Columbia Housing Authority. From these appraisals contemporary audiences have invaluable photographs of the Mann-Simons family’s former holdings. Image courtesy Columbia Housing Authority
Preservation by Association Slated to meet the same fate as the Mann-Simons family’s other former properties, the 19th-century residence located at 1403 Richland Street, shown here in 1975, fortunately survived. The preservation of the building, at that time believed to once have been the home of family matriarch Celia Mann, was the result of tireless efforts on the part of community leaders and the concern of family member Robbie Fabreka Atkinson, pictured at center.
Imagining What the Building Should Have Looked Like During the rehabilitation of was then known as the Mann-Simons Cottage, historic preservationists attempted to restore the building to what they felt it should have looked like historically. Their end result included some changes that ultimately presented the building as it had never appeared before, such as at the structure’s north elevation where the removal of a bathroom led to the full extension of the rear porch. In reality, since its construction in 1904, the porch always had featured this modern day convenience.
A Striking Contrast Its restoration completed in 1978, the former Mann-Simons family’s house then stood in stark contrast to its new neighbor to the north – a modern high-rise apartment building.
Studying What They Left Behind Assistant Archaeologist Joseph Johnson and Archaeology Coordinator and Primary Investigator Dr. Jakob Crockett study some of the thousands of diverse artifacts uncovered during multiple excavations at the Mann-Simons Site between 2005 and 2012.
Hands-On History Students under the guidance of master pipe fitter Marc Crockett (standing at top right) and Dr. Jakob Crockett (crouching at top right) assemble the framework for the former store located to the east of the still-standing, late-1870s/early-1880s house.
A Lasting Impression Visitors to the Mann-Simons Site will soon enjoy a free outdoor museum experience where they will be able to better understand how the family’s property once looked, how they used it over time and what archaeological evidence they left behind for contemporary audiences to piece together various ways of understanding their experiences from the 1840s through 1970. Frameworks such as this for 1904 Marion Street and wayside signage featuring historic images and QR codes with links to greater information will soon offer guests a wealth of information not previously available.
Ways to Get Involved: 1. 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…
2. Visit our historic house museums and gardens, including the Mann-Simons Site, Hampton-Preston Mansion, Seibels Garden, Robert Mills House & Garden, Woodrow Wilson Family Home (open the first Tuesday of the month for hard hat tours). Learn more…
3. 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.
5. 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.
6. Spread the word about our 50th Anniversary by posting a link to this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and/or your website.
7. 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 email@example.com.
The recent demolition of the George Elmore Five and Dime has been garnering much attention within the Columbia community. Mr. Hough, a radio executive in Hemingway, is the chairman of the S.C. African American Heritage Commission. Hough’s op-ed was featured in The State newspaper on Wednesday, August 8. Click here to read the piece.
Other stories about the George Elmore Store below.
The recent demolition of the George Elmore Five and Dime has been garnering much attention within the Columbia community. WIS News 10 visited the site of the former Five and Dime story yesterday to speak with Robin Waites, Historic Columbia Foundation’s Executive Director, as well as members from the community and Mayor Steve Benjamin.
Among the many bones recovered from the archaeological excavations at the Mann-Simons site were those belonging to three raccoons. What do they mean? Most simply, the bones mean there were at least three raccoons on site for some portion of their lives (or at least their deaths). But to know more we must first understand that the meaning of an object is not inherent in the object itself, but instead emerges from the context within which people and objects interact. Of course, when investigating the past it is impossible to observe these interactions—the primary context. Therefore, we must rely on secondary context: where an object was found in association with other objects and physical features.
Femura and vertebra from the buried raccoon.
Our raccoons came from two different contexts. The first was discovered in a small, roughly rectangular depression in a former planting space in the backyard, about three feet from a former building. No other artifacts were found in the depression. This raccoon was buried (if it had been a cat or dog, we might suggest the animal was a pet). The other two were discovered in a large circular pit also in the backyard. The pit contained 3,996 artifacts in addition to the two raccoons, artifacts ranging from bottles and nails to food remains and brick fragments. This was a trash pit and these raccoons were thrown away.
Mandibles from the two discarded raccoons.
These bones can be understood not only in relation to the family (who clearly disposed of them with no evidence of consumption), but larger society as well. The presence of raccoon remains in trash pits is not a rare phenomenon. Cats, rats, raccoons, dogs and other animals were routinely disposed of for population control and urban sanitation. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, these so-called ‘nuisance’ animals were often perceived as an important vector in the spread of disease in cities, and were even thought to be a possible cause of the national influenza outbreak in 1918. The disposal of three raccoons by the family could be viewed as a means of improving health conditions in Columbia.
Do you know the history of Old Shandon in Columbia, South Carolina? Covering approximately 37 acres, this district features 42 buildings of architectural merit representative of housing styles and forms popular from 1893 through the 1940s. Early suburban life in this Columbia neighborhood proved a major attraction for inner-city professionals and their families as early as 1893. Life close todowntown amenities and work but within new homes situated on more spacious lots spoke to a more modern lifestyle that lured Columbia residents outside the city’s limits. With the extension of the trolley line in 1894 into Valley Park and along Devine and Maple streets in 1898, greater numbers of former downtown citizens established themselves within the new community.
On Sunday, August 12 at 2 p.m.; Historic Columbia Foundation is offering a guided walking tour highlighting the architecture and history of this historic neighborhood. 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). Tickets can be purchased by calling 803.252.1770 ext. 24 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-up registrations are also accepted – the tour will meet at the Wheatley Branch of Richland County Public Library (931 Woodrow Street).
More about Old Shandon:
In their 1895 map of Columbia and its suburbs, city engineers Niernsee & LaMotte indicated Shandon’s original boundaries as Woodrow, Wheat, and Harden streets and Carolina Avenue (now Santee Avenue). Today’s Old Shandon area covers those blocks of the suburb that lay northeast of Devine Street, in addition to the area southeast of Woodrow Street that became Maple Street. In 2003, Old Shandon residents supported listing the portion of their neighborhood bounded by Woodrow, Cypress, Maple, Lee, and Preston streets within the National Register of Historic Places as the Old Shandon Historic District.
About this month’s Second Sunday Stroll, Robin Waites, Executive Director of Historic Columbia Foundation says “View Columbia from a different lens as you retrace our shared past on a guided walking tour of Old Shandon.” Members of the media are encouraged to contact Ashley Tucker, Marketing Coordinator, for historic photographs and questions about Old Shandon at 803.252.7742 ext 16 or email@example.com.
About Retrace: Connecting Communities Through History:
Historic Columbia Foundation invites you to retrace our shared past through its series of web tours, walking tours, mobile apps and wayside exhibits. Explore six virtual tours of Columbia’s historic neighborhoods (including Old Shandon) by clicking on the “Retrace” icon at http://www.historiccolumbia.org. Self-guided tour brochures are available in the Museum Shop, located at 1616 Blanding Street. Your story could be just around the corner.
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. Visit http://www.historiccolumbia.org for details.
Historic Columbia Foundation in partnership with members of the Paul Rinaldo Redfern Aviation Society will celebrate the 85th Anniversary of Paul Redfern’s Historic attempt to fly non-stop from North America to South America on Saturday, August 25 at from 9 am – 3 pm at Dreher High School, 3319 Millwood Ave.
Members of the Paul Rinaldo Redfern Aviation Society, who have cataloged Redfern’s many achievements, will celebrate his memory during the Symposium, which includes special guest speakers and presenters, including distinguished historians and Redfern descendants. Admission also includes lunch, a missing man fly-over, two historic marker dedications and a Redfern Sites Bus Tour. The celebration will take place at Dreher High School on the grounds where Redfern got his start.
Paul Refern, a South Carolina native and 1923 graduate of Columbia High School, disappeared on August 25,1927, as he attempted to be the first person to fly from North America to South America.
Speakers and Presenters
Tom Savage, President of Paul Rinaldo Redfern Aviation SocietyRon Shelton, Coordinator of Young Eagles, Experimental Aircraft Association, South Carolina State Museum
Dr. Fritz Hamer, Curator of Published Materials Division, South Caroliniana Library, USC
Dr. Warner M. Montgomery, President of Columbia Star and Paul Redfern Biographer
Scott Swanson, nephew of Paul Redfern
Paul Redfern Jennings, nephew of Paul Redfern
Lunch at Dreher High School
Toast to Paul Redfern at 12:46 pm (time of Redfern’s take-off)
Recital of poem written by Paul Redfern’s Mother
Missing Man Fly-over with period aircraft
Re-dedication of Redfern Plaque
Dedication of new Redfern Field Historic Marker
Afternoon Bus Tour
Bus tour of Redfern associated sites led by Dr. Warner Montgomery
Those interested in attending this celebration are encouraged to register through Sarah Blackwell 803.252.1770 x 33 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission is $20 and includes entrance to the symposium, lunch and a bus tour. Activity tickets can also be purchases separately, $5 for entrance, $10 forlunch and $5 for bus tour. Please send payments to 1601 Richland Street Attn: Sarah Blackwell/ Redfern Day, Columbia, SC 29201.
Members of the media are encouraged to contact Ashley Tucker, Marketing Coordinator at 803.252.1770 ext 16 or email@example.com. Historic photographs are available.
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. Visit http://www.historiccolumbia.org for details.
COLUMBIA, SC (July 17, 2012) – Historic Columbia Foundation was awarded a $141,047 federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services in support of the Mann-Simonscommunity engagement project. HCF was one of 152 projects from more than 450 applicants selected for funding and is the only IMLS Museums for American grant recipient in the state of South Carolina for this year.
This funding supports a partnership between Historic Columbia Foundation, the University of South Carolina, Richland School District One and the Columbia Housing Authority. Using the city-owned Mann-Simons Site, the Foundation will implement, review, and refine a series of youth and senior programs and activities and develop a multi-discipline, multi-generational educational outreach program.
The project will use local history as the catalyst to extend meaningful outreach programs to high school students and senior citizens and enable the foundation to build greater organizational capacity for community engagement.
The Mann-Simons site, located at 1403 Marion Street, is one of seven historic properties managed by Historic Columbia Foundation and one of only a few sites in South Carolina once owned by freed African-Americans prior to the Civil War. This three-year project is slated to begin in September 2012.
About the Institute for Museum and Library Services:
Museums for America is the Institute’s largest grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums’ capacity to serve their communities. These grants strengthen a museum’s ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals. Funds can be used for a wide variety of projects, including research, planning, new programs, and activities that support the efforts of museums to upgrade and integrate new technologies.
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 ofpreservation and education, would take on the stewardship of seven historicproperties 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 onNovember 13, 2011) will include a variety of community celebratory events. Visit http://www.historiccolumbia.org for details.
On Saturday, July 21 a historic marker was placed at the Waverly Five and Dime store located at 2313 Gervais Street. Less than a week later the building was demolished by the First Nazareth Baptist Church, the current owners of the property. The State newspaper featured the story on the front page of Tuesday, July 31st paper. Read the article below or on thestate.com.
Civil rights pioneer George Elmore lost his Waverly 5-and-10 cent store in the late 1940s when he dared to put his name on a lawsuit ending South Carolina’s all-white primaries, a decision leading to economic reprisals and his financial ruin.
Now, the old brick storefront that sat at 2313 Gervais St. is lost again, this time reduced to a pile of rubble and a swift demolition Friday by the church next door, First Nazareth Baptist Church.
In an ironic twist, a historic marker was placed in front of the 1935 building a week earlier during a ceremony attended by city leaders, academics and church members, honoring Elmore and his contributions to the state’s civil rights history.
“There is a beautiful historical marker now standing in front of a pile of rubble,” Robin Waites, executive director of the Historic Columbia Foundation, said Monday. “I’m just furious.”
Cresswell Elmore, George Elmore’s son, said Monday he knew the building his father once rented was in bad shape. But he said he had pleaded with the church’s pastor, the Rev. Blakeney Scott, at the marker dedication to hold off on razing the building. Cresswell Elmore hoped the facade could be incorporated into the church’s plans for the property, which sits adjacent to the imposing church at Millwood Avenue and Gervais Street.
“We all spoke to him and we didn’t know he was in a hurry to destroy it,” said Cresswell Elmore, of New Bern, N.C. “I was just totally distraught.”
Efforts to reach Scott for comment were unsuccessful on Monday.
The church purchased the property in 2010 for $122,000. Plans for the property are unclear.
Waites said her organization had partnered with the African-American congregation to install the marker as part of the church’s 135th anniversary celebration and was working “toward some positive representation of that history.”
“Perhaps it is a little bit of naïveté on my part, but I arrived to do the marker on July 21 and there were demolition signs on the building,” she said. Waites said she quickly alerted civic leaders, including Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, in hopes of staving off the destruction of a building that is part of Columbia’s historic Waverly community. But she learned at 6 p.m. Friday that the building was destroyed.
In an email, Benjamin said the demolition was a tragedy, saying the structure “stood as a monument to courage and commitment in the struggle for civil rights.”
“My only hope is that this loss will further highlight the need to preserve and protect our historic treasures and ensure that we never lose an irreplaceable piece of our shared history and culture like this again.”
One church member, M.L. Kohn, spent part of Monday salvaging bricks and other artifacts from the site.
“I thought maybe we had a change of mind about tearing it down,” Kohn said, “but it was something planned as part of progress.”
Elmore was an industrious entrepreneur, operating the popular Waverly dime store, two liquor stores and a taxi service. He also was active in the NAACP, which was working to end segregation and restore civil rights to the state’s African-Americans, including the right to vote.
In 1946, Elmore was approached by the civil rights organization to challenge the all-white Democratic primaries that were the vehicle for elected political leaders in the state. Democrats, who ran the state’s political machine, claimed the state’s primaries were private clubs, immune from constitutional scrutiny.
After attempting, unsuccessfully, to vote in the August 1946 Democratic primary, Elmore contested the white primary in a lawsuit filed Feb. 21, 1947, by the NAACP on his behalf, Elmore v. Rice.
On July 12, 1947, U.S. District Judge Waties Waring, who would later preside over the state’s signature school desegregation case, ruled in Elmore’s favor.
Almost immediately, Elmore began to suffer reprisals.
He lost his home nearby at 907 Tree St. when the bank called in the loan, but not before crosses were burned on the front lawn. White vendors refused to stock his shelves and his liquor licenses were revoked.
“He had to pay cash for everything after that time,” Cresswell Elmore recalled. Cash in a postwar economy was scarce, particularly for African-Americans. His wife, Laura, suffered a mental breakdown and was institutionalized. George Elmore died in 1959 at the age of 53.
Vennie Deas Moore, a cultural historian, said it’s often a battle to get people to understand the value of historic buildings that aren’t big and grand. Often, historic markers are erected at addresses where buildings significant to the city’s history used to stand.
University of South Carolina history professor Bobby Donaldson said he understands the tension that exists for urban congregations such as First Nazareth that want to expand their Christian missions.
He said the quick demolition of a building that had such a story to tell, particularly to young people, suggests that other structures around Columbia could be at risk.
“I know last week there was a lot of concern about that building being saved — and then you turn your head and it was gone,” Donaldson said.
The Historic Columbia Foundation has a list of dozens of unprotected landmarks.
Lawyer and preservation advocate Steve Morrison said the building’s loss was especially poignant given assaults on the right to vote that Elmore worked so hard to attain.
Morrison said he’s hoping the demolition will spin into an effort to identify and protect buildings associated with the Civil Rights era. “We don’t want a community full of empty buildings that are museums,” he said, “but we want a community full of the life of the past, as well as the present.”
Cresswell Elmore said the loss has prompted family members to consider a way to preserve their Tree Street home as a memorial to their father’s sacrifice, a move that Kohn and others support.
Lonnie Randolph, who lives in Waverly, said the loss of the Elmore store is nothing new.
“The history of people of color has no significance in this state,” he said. “Look at our schools. Look at what happened to Booker T. Washington (High School). That’s just one of many examples of what happens to our institutions as time moves on.”