Robert Mills House & Gardens, Columbia

4.5
#2 of 14 in Historic Sites in Columbia
One of only five National Historic Landmarks within Columbia, the Robert Mills House exemplifies the skill of the first architect born and trained within the United States who designed some of the nation's most prominent buildings, including the Washington Monument. Today, the structure stands as a testament of its designer's architectural ability and the preservation efforts of generations of Columbians.

In 1823, Englishman Ainsley Hall and his Lower Richland County wife Sarah, hired Robert Mills to plan this stylish Classical Revival townhouse, one of few private residences he ever designed. Ainsley Hall died before the house was finished leaving a contested estate due to an outdated will. Ultimately, Sarah sold the mansion to the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, which established a seminary there in 1831. Several influential pastors of the Presbyterian Church taught at the seminary including George Howe, Sr., who was instrumental in the institution’s founding, Dr. Joseph R. Wilson, Woodrow Wilson's father, and Dr. James Woodrow, the future president's uncle, who held positions on the faculty. In 1927, the Columbia Theological Seminary moved to Decatur, Georgia, and the campus served the Westerveldt Academy and later the Columbia Bible College, until 1960. A major grassroots movement led to the founding of Historic Columbia Foundation, which saved the house from demolition in the early 1960s. After extensive restoration, the property opened in 1967 as an historic house museum.
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Robert Mills House & Gardens Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
62 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • A wonderful old home, that was never actually used as a home. You will have to visit and have your guide explain the interesting story. Our guide was full of information, which provided great conversa...  more »
  • A look into a time long past and how the well to do lived in a forgotten era. Guides are very informative, ready to answer questions, and helpful  more »
Google
  • One of the highlights of visiting Columbia South Carolina. The house has a rich history involving Robert Mills, the architect of the house and most famous for designing the Washington monument. The guide was very informative and always asked if we had questions. Great Costomer service all around. The price for a guided tour is $10 a person and well worth it.
  • Very beautiful house! Classic example of architecture from famous architect, Robert Mills. He believes in absolute balance of features even if it meant adding a door with just bricks behind it! My tour guide, Margie, was excellent! The gardens are also spectacular! The roses in particular are thoughtfully chosen. Old roses from that time period that flourish in a warm climate; noisettes, chinas, teas. Some were classics like Old Blush and some were rare and unique. Altogether, an amazing experience!

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