May is Preservation Month!
National Historic Preservation Month was started in the 1970s by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a way to promote historic places and it has been going strong ever since. Throughout the month of May, events and activities are scheduled across the country to celebrate the history and architecture of communities big and small. In the spirit of Preservation Month we encourage you to get out and enjoy the history that Columbia has to offer! Check out the events below to see how you can celebrate Cola history!
Main Street Scavenger Hunt
How keen is your eye for architecture? This May, preservation staff of the City of Columbia challenges you to test your knowledge in a Main Street Scavenger Hunt! Clues for the hunt will be released online May 1st; Participants who complete the hunt and return the correct answers by May 31st will be entered to win one of three great prizes.
City Hall Exhibit
M-F 8:30a.m.-5p.m., 1737 Main Street
Columbia City Hall (constructed 1875) underwent a major renovation in 2012 that included extensive plaster repair by local plasterers from Master of Plaster. Throughout the month of May, Recipe For A Plaster Flower, a small exhibit in the City Hall lobby, will display salvaged plaster trim pieces from the recent renovation of Council Chambers. The exhibit will also provide a brief description of the process of reconstructing the damaged ornamental plaster from 1875 that adorn the walls.
Wednesday, May 2, 11:30a.m.-1:30p.m. and Sunday, May 6, 1-3p.m., South Carolina State House
Enjoy SC is an interactive event series inviting neighbors and visitors to meet, linger, and socialize on the State House grounds. For Enjoy SC: Make History, Historic Columbia has curated historic images of South Carolina’s Main Streets from throughout the state and will feature those images beside current images of the same Main Streets.
Randolph Cemetery Workshop
Saturday, May 5, 9:30a.m.-12p.m., Randolph Cemetery, 301 Elmwood Avenue
[email protected] Please wear comfortable clothes and sneakers and bring sunscreen, bug spray, and a gallon of water for the hands-on stone cleaning session. For more information check out the Facebook event. Rain date is May 12.This workshop will include a tour of Randolph Cemetery (created 1871), show how previous repairs by professional conservators have –or have not- lasted, and discuss proper lawn and stone maintenance and repair. Randolph Cemetery is located just west of Elmwood Cemetery, at the dead end of Elmwood Avenue with parking along the street. The workshop is FREE but please register by emailing
Historic Horseshoe Walking Tour
Thursday, May 10, 12 – 1 p.m., Starts at the South Caroliniana Library at 910 Sumter Street
University Archivist Elizabeth Cassidy West leads the monthly tours around the historic horseshoe, sharing tales of events and student life that occurred there. Event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, May 12, 10a.m.-4p.m., Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens, 1615 Gervais Street
Preservation Bike Ride
Saturday, May 19, 9a.m.-12p.m., Starts at the 1600 block of Laurel (behind Hampton-Preston property)
Join preservationists from the City of Columbia for a leisurely ride through time as we explore preservation, history, and planning in the capital city! Did you know that the 1700 block of Blanding and Laurel Streets once included over 30 houses for railroad workers? Or that the construction of the Babcock Building followed progressive theories of mental health treatment known as the “Kirkbride System”? Join us to learn about this and more in a family friendly tour through Columbia, including stops at Main Street, West Gervais, and the Bull Street Campus. The ride will be at an easy pace but may include hills and, although the tour will largely follow secondary roads, riders should be comfortable riding on streets open to vehicular traffic. The ride is free and open to the public but is limited to 25 participants with reservations required.
Historic Melrose Scavenger Hunt
Sunday, May 20, 1:30p.m.- 3p.m., Starts at Melrose Park (corner of Senate and Fairview)
The beautiful neighborhood of Historic Melrose was developed between the years 1900 and 1950 as one of Columbia’s first suburbs. Today, the neighborhood retains a diverse range of architectural styles and details that contribute to the overall charm that has kept it a desirable place to live for over 100 years. This May, in collaboration with the City of Columbia, the Melrose Neighborhood Association invites you and your family out for a fun-filled afternoon in a neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt! The architectural scavenger hunt is designed for families to provide a chance to learn about architecture and look at buildings in a new and fun way. This family friendly event is free and open to the public and includes the opportunity to win prizes!
The City of Columbia Planning Department is responsible for historic preservation activities within the City. The Historic Preservation Division of the Department is responsible for the administration of the City's historic preservation ordinance, which provides certain kinds of legal protection for buildings, districts, and sites that have been declared historic by City Council. The City of Columbia has over 160 individual landmarks.
The Division is also response for developing awareness of Columbia's rich historical beginnings, which started in 1786 when Columbia became the first planned capital in the new nation. Additionally, the Division raises awareness of how historic materials can be preserved through workshops and educational events.
The Historic Preservation Division is in charge of approving Certificates of Design Approval (CDAs) for alterations to historic buildings and sites. The design review process for Columbia's historic districts and design districts is administered by the Design/Development Review Commission (D/DRC) and the design review staff. All projects come directly to staff for consultation first. Staff may then direct the applicant as to whether the project can be approved at the staff level, or must be channeled through the Commission according to City Ordinance.
If you have questions, please contact the staff representative for your district.
If you would like to sign up to receive the preservation newsletter, please email [email protected]. Past newsletters are available below.