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Preserving Historic Homes in Columbia


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Courtesy of WISTV.com...

Columbia Council works to preserve historic homes

(Columbia) Aug. 4, 2004 - While the City of Columbia owns the Robert Mills House and the Mann-Simons Cottage, the historic homes are preserved by the non-profit Historic Columbia Organization , which operates them as educational and entertainment tools.

With the new fiscal year is in full swing, Historic Columbia says the $250,000 budgeted by the city to maintain the properties is still not set aside and there's been no decision how to pay for the up-keep.

Traditionally the community promotions fund paid the expenses, but that fund has been cut back since the hospitality tax was introduced.

There was a stop-gap decision to fund the organization last year, but the clock is ticking, and it costs about $10,000 a month to operate each of the two properties.

Talks have been going on with the city since February, but Historic Columbia's management says there's still no formal process for getting funding every year.

Mayor Coble says Wednesday's decision to delay funding another week is cutting it close, "First and foremost, we have to fund the houses. They're our historic homes. We have a contract to do that. So, we just need to make sure we have the best method for doing that. So, we've asked our staff to come back in a week and tell us how to do that."

Using revenue from the hospitality tax presents all sorts of problems for Historic Columbia. To get those funds they have to spend them first then apply for a reimbursement from the city.

The Mann-Simons Cottage at 1403 Richland Street was once owned by free blacks and is now preserved as a historic house museums. It was believed to be built in 1825 or 1830 and was preserved as an historic site in 1970.

The Mann-Simons Cottage is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and on Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00pm. Tickets are available at the Robert Mills Welcome Center and Museum Shop on 1616 Blanding Street.

The Robert Mills House was designed by the man who designed the Washington Monument in 1823. It opened 1967 as an historic house museum in 1967 and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm and on Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00pm.


Two other Columbia properties operated by Historic Columbia, the Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens and the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, do not fall under the same contract with the city.

by Scott Hawkins

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