Join Historic Columbia for “Celebrating 60” community day

February 28, 2022

Spring forward at this March 13th event to celebrate Historic Columbia’s 60th anniversary and the opening of the new Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center 

Join Historic Columbia for “Celebrating 60,” a community event from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, to mark 60 years of the organization’s historic preservation work and to open the new Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center, a state-of-the-art greenhouse located on the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion. This free event will feature tours of the greenhouse and Hampton-Preston Mansion, gardening talks and special presentations, lawn games, indigo dyeing, and local food trucks.

The state-of-the-art greenhouse, along with an historically inspired gatehouse, marks the latest in a long line of grounds improvements generously supported by the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation. The facility, located on the northwest quadrant of the Hampton-Preston grounds, enhances Historic Columbia’s capacity to care for the 14 acres of grounds and gardens under the institution’s care across six historic sites. It also serves as a space to interpret the role that an extensive workforce of gardeners and horticulturists – Black, white, enslaved and free – have played in shaping this site for hundreds of years.

Guests can dive deeper into the world of gardening and the history of the Hampton-Preston site, while enjoying games, activities, and food and drink from Belgian Waffle Food Truck, Drip, Kombi Keg and Mary’s Arepas.

Historic Columbia’s director of grounds Keith Mearns will lead garden tours at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. covering the six sections of the Hampton-Preston gardens, including the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden, the Hiram Powers Fountain Garden, the east and west arboretums, the interpretive brick plaza, and the greenhouse and nursery.

House tours of the Hampton-Preston Mansion will be available from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Owned by Richland County and managed by Historic Columbia, the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens is a historic site most often associated with the socially and politically influential antebellum planter-class families from which it draws its name. During their time at the urban estate, the property became renowned for its extensive native and exotic plantings that filled most of the four-acre tract on which the main house still stands today.

Indigo dyeing sessions at 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. will give children and their parents an overview of traditional dyeing techniques, how indigo came to South Carolina, what indigo cultivation looked like pre-American Revolution, and modernized dyeing techniques today.

Lawn games, like potato sack races and hoop rolling, will be offered at 2 p.m., and guests can complete a scavenger hunt throughout the afternoon for a chance to win prizes.

Special sessions include Q&A with Amanda McNulty, the host of the Emmy-award winning show Making It Grow on SCETV, at 11:30 a.m. From 1:30 – 2 p.m., Jenks Farmer, a plantsman, garden designer, curator and author, will sign copies of his latest book, Crinum. Columbia Museum of Art will also be onsite to promote the upcoming Art Blossoms event being held May 5-8, 2022.

Additional opportunities include rental tours available at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Guests who wish to rent a Historic Columbia venue can secure their date with a $60 deposit and receive 10% off rental rates, if a deposit is received on March 13. Those who join Historic Columbia through a new or renewed membership at Celebrating 60 can enjoy a discounted $60 household membership and receive a 60th anniversary t-shirt.

Celebrating 60 will take place from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 13 at the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, located at 1615 Blanding Street. Admission is free and more information is available at


About the Hampton-Preston Greenhouse and Gatehouse Project

The greenhouse and gatehouse additions, designed by Lambert Architecture + Construction Services with Cohn Construction as the general contractor, are based on historic structures that once stood on the property.     

Using the most probable design of the original greenhouse on the site, the new building features a three-quarter span glasshouse running the entire length of the structure and includes a production greenhouse, a central orientation lobby, and an interpretive greenhouse.   

The production greenhouse will serve as the central propagation facility for the grounds department and will only be open to the public for special programs. The interpretive greenhouse will host a variety of plants propagated in the original structure with accompanying informational signage. The facility will also be a “one-stop shop” for HC’s grounds department, also housing staff’s offices and storage.  

An octagonal gatehouse, based upon a mid-19th century structure that stood on the property until the 1940s, will be integrated into the southwest section of the Pickens Street wall. Unlike its wooden precursor, this contemporary creation will be fashioned from steel both for durability and to provide material continuity with the centerpiece of the children’s garden gazebo that occupies the southeast portion of the site. 

Through its investment of more than $4 million dollars to date, the Boyd Foundation has powered Historic Columbia’s transformation of the Hampton-Preston site into one of the most dynamic public gardens in the region. The newest gift from the Boyd Foundation allows HC to take the next step in a decades-long vision to transform this historic site into a hub for horticultural research and plant propagation, alongside the ongoing interpretation and programming. 

Historic Columbia interprets the gardens and grounds of the Hampton-Preston site as close as possible to the way they would have looked and felt during the height of the Hampton and Preston families’ power and influence from 1840 to 1860. While the landscape design popular among the wealthy of the time was English Landscape Style, the Hampton family was interested in re-creating the more intimate and specimen heavy gardens of the French and Italian estates and villas they encountered on their European travels. As a result of research of published firsthand historical accounts and the catalogues of nearby Pomaria Nurseries, Historic Columbia uses a mix of heirloom and modern cultivars to recreate the feeling of exotic opulence of the site’s original gardens. 


About Historic Columbia  

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 six decades, the organization, which was founded on the premise of preservation and education, would take on the stewardship of six historic properties in Richland County. Today, the organization serves as a model for local preservation efforts and interpretation of local history. 


About the Boyd Foundation 

The Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation promotes projects of specific interest to the Boyd Family, such as education, beautification, creation of outdoor recreational opportunities and wildlife enhancement to enhance the quality of life for citizens of Columbia and the Midlands. In addition to supporting the greenhouse project at Hampton Preston Mansion, including restrooms, classrooms and a sunken plaza, the Foundation recently supported additional garden renovations at Hampton-Preston as well as garden renovations at Robert Mills House and has made possible other projects at Historic Columbia in recent years.  

The Boyd Foundation has also made possible a variety of projects in the Midlands, including Boyd Plaza, a public space at the Columbia Museum of Art, renovations of facilities at Riverbanks Zoo and Sandhills School and more.