Founded more than 50 years ago, Historic Columbia is dedicated to preserving the historic and cultural heritage of Columbia and Richland County. The organization would not be able to operate its daily house tours and its slate of regularly scheduled programs, tours, and events without its volunteers. In Fiscal Year 2014, 218 volunteers donated 9,000 hours to Historic Columbia, time that is valued at more than $181,000. In addition to house tours, volunteers led a variety of tours in the city and county, including tours of historic neighborhoods, African American sites, Main Street architecture, Civil War sites, cemeteries, and churches.
Historic Columbia volunteers serve as tour guides at the organization’s four house museums: the Hampton-Preston Mansion, Robert Mills House, Mann-Simons Site, and Woodrow Wilson Family Home. Before being certified as docents, volunteers participate in an extensive training program to learn the history of the sites, interpretive methods, safety procedures, and sensitivity for dealing with challenging subject matter such as the history of Reconstruction. Historic Columbia’s Woodrow Wilson Family Home is one of only four museums in the country to focus principally on the period of Reconstruction.
Volunteers also are a key part of Historic Columbia’s landscaping program. Horticulture volunteers work alongside staff doing garden maintenance, while other volunteers serve as historic garden docents leading garden tours and interpreting landscape features.
Designated a Preserve America Steward in July 2015.