Garden Rehabilitation at Hampton-Preston Mansion

June 29, 2012
Photography provided by Historic Columbia Foundation.

The Hampton-Preston Mansion served as the College for Women from around 1890-1915. Pictured is a postcard glimpse of the Old English Garden at the College for Women.

Mary Cantey Hampton and Caroline Hampton Preston began improving the four-acre grounds around their home (the Hampton-Preston Mansion in Columbia, South Carolina) during late 1830s. The mother-daughter duo transformed the landscape into regionally-acclaimed antebellum gardens that contained a remarkable collection of native varieties and plants from around the world.  In addition to its splendid collection of plantings, the “Old English Garden” once featured a marble fountain attributed to Hiram Powers, large arches, wooden benches, statuary, a gatehouse, and one or more glass greenhouses.

Using historic documentation as a guide, Historic Columbia Foundation seeks to revitalize the 4-acre property in the spirit and design of Mary Cantey Hampton and Caroline Hampton Preston’s antebellum gardens.  Plans for a 3-phase, multi-year implementation begin with the revitalization of the southern portion of the property, with ground broken in January 2012.  Included in this first phase will be the garden infrastructure, as well as new plantings selected from plants known to have been grown on the property during the 1830s through 1860s.


Pictured is a postcard glimpse of the Hiram Powers fountain at the College for Women.

New gardens created within the antebellum-period pathway and bed framework of Mrs. Hampton and Mrs. Preston’s garden during the first phase of the garden revitalization project will include:

A  Fountain Garden, designed in the romantic style will feature a working replica of the Hiram Powers fountain and restored fountain basin, two wooden arches, and clipped boxwood parterres displaying a naturalistic collection of antebellum period ornamental shrubs, vines, and trees.


A  Welcome Garden will serve as an inviting space through which guests to the mansion and gardens will enter the property, and will be located immediately in front of and surrounding the mansion. This formal garden will feature plantings of clipped boxwood hedges and heirloom roses designed in the English style. Additionally, this garden will display a shady canopy of magnolias, and other flowering trees, shrubs, and perennials, chosen particularly for their fragrance.

A  Children’s Garden will be a walled garden designed to a child’s scale. This garden will surround a new antebellum-style gazebo and memorial space, and will appeal to a child’s sense of exploration and discovery, including spaces to encourage active, creative, and imaginative play.

There are several ways you may wish to get involved in the garden rehabilitation at Hampton-Preston Mansion:

On a postcart circa 1920, is the Hampton-Preston Mansion as Chicora College.

Consider making a donation to the project on the Historic Columbia Foundation website at (click on “donate).  For donation amounts at or above $1,250, please contact Wendi Spratt, Director of Development at or 803.252.7742 ext. 12 for more information about special gift recognition opportunities in the gardens.

Become a garden volunteer. Contact Dave Simpson, Historic Columbia Foundation’s Director of Grounds, at  803.252.1770 ext. 35 or for information on upcoming garden volunteer days.


Help spread the word about the Hampton-Preston Garden Rehabilitation and other gardens at Historic Columbia Foundation.  Share the project with your friends, family and employer.

Visit Historic Columbia Foundation’s Gardens! The Seibels House Garden (1601 Richland Street in Columbia, South Carolina) is open to the public (and free to enjoy) during HCF business hours (Mon-Friday 9 am – 5 pm).  Enjoy a picnic lunch or leisurely stroll! The Foundation also offers monthly tours of the Robert Mills Founders Garden on the third Thursday of each month at 11 am ($6 per person).

About Historic Columbia Foundation
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 five decades the organization, which was founded on the premise of preservation and education, would take on the stewardship of seven historic properties in Richland County. Today, the organization serves as a model for local preservation efforts and interpretation of local history. The 50th Anniversary year of Historic Columbia Foundation (which officially began on November 13, 2011) will include a variety of community celebratory events. Visit for details. 


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