Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, Columbia

4.1
#5 of 14 in Historic Sites in Columbia
One of Columbia's oldest remaining historic houses, the Hampton-Preston Mansion was home to many people for 150 years. The city residence of Columbia's Hampton and Preston elite planter-class families, this historic site featured gardens nationally renowned for their size and variety of plantings.

Ainsley Hall, a wealthy Columbia merchant, and his wife Sarah, lived here for five years after they had the house built in 1818. Several years after buying the property in 1823, its second owner, Wade Hampton I, updated the Federal style home to more reflect the Greek Revival style. Hampton's third wife, Mary Cantey, supervised the installation of elaborate gardens that came to surround the mansion during the 1830s through 1860s. Following Wade Hampton I's death in 1835, daughter Caroline and son-in-law John Preston further transformed the estate by doubling the house's size between 1848 and 1850. Established as a Union Army headquarters in February 1865, the property survived destruction thanks to the exploits of Sister Bapista Lynch, who implored Sherman to spare the home for use as a temporary convent. In financial ruin, the family sold the estate in 1873. Later, the estate accommodated several institutions including the College for Women (1890-1915), Chicora College (1915-1930), Westerveldt Academy (1931-1935), and Columbia Bible College [overflow housing] (1938-1946). In 1947, the gardens were bulldozed and the four-acre tract was subdivided for various commercial uses. Following a yearlong rehabilitation, the historic mansion opened in 1970 as the centerpiece of the Midlands Tricentennial Exposition Center.
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Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
50 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • We had a wonderful tour guide, Anne when we toured. It was a cold rainy day so we did not do the gardens but the house was beautiful. Anne shared a lot about the Hamptons and their family and I enjoye...  more »
  • Our tour guide, Heather, was pleasant and very informative, sharing the history of the home, the families that lived there, the restoration of the buildings and grounds, and some information on the en...  more »
Google
  • This is a beautiful and well-maintained property. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable on the history of the property and the stories of the people who lived there. She was very passionate about the subject and pleasantly engaging with the tour group. Highly recommend for an educating and entertaining view of Columbia history
  • Excellent docent information complements what you'll see in the mansion. Gardens are improving with funding to restore their glory.

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