Atop Arsenal Hill amidst grand homes owned by prestigious
South Carolinians stood a large edifice - a forlorn
remembrance of war and its aftermath. The building was
the only remains of Arsenal Military Academy established
in 1842 to train officers for the state's militia. Cadets
withdrew from the Academy on February 16, 1865, to fulfill
their duties as soldiers in the Civil War. When they
returned to Columbia there was no school. Only the officers'
quarters loomed in the distance as they made their trek
into the smoldering city.
In 1868 Governor James L. Orr recognized the "commodious
building which commands a picturesque view of the Broad
and Saluda rivers." He declared that this structure
become the home of South Carolina's Chief Executive
Officers. Completed some 13 years earlier, the quarters
were in dire need of restoration. The South Carolina
General Assembly provided needed funds and the faculty
dormitory was transformed into a residence for Governor
Robert K. Scott who moved in during 1869. Most all Governors
have lived in the Mansion since and have experienced
its progress through the years.
By the time Governor Benjamin R. Tillman ended his term
in 1894, electric lights illuminated the rooms. By 1897
Governor John Gary Evans, the youngest Governor on record,
witnessed the installation of porcelain bathtubs and
toilets. In 1907 the General Assembly appropriated $500
for Governor Martin F. Ansel to redecorate the Mansion;
thus, beginning an era of entertaining visitors to the
state. Since then Mansion doors have opened to many
interesting guests including Presidents Franklin D.
Roosevelt, Presidents William Howard Taft, and Dwight
D. Eisenhower, during their campaigns, Vice President
Nelson Rockefeller, and former President George W. Bush.
During the 1976 American Bicentennial celebration many
VIPs visited. Among them were Texas Governor John Connally,
former California Governor Ronald Reagan, and William
F. Buckley, Jr. From the world of entertainment some
of the guests were Bob Hope, Martha Raye, Minnie Pearl,
and Dizzy Gillespie. Each guest left behind the intangible
- an everlasting memory that expanded the Mansion story.
Of the tangibles that grace the Mansion many are State
treasures which interpret its history. Through the generosity
of a multitude of citizens, much of the furniture, artwork,
and memorabilia have been donated. A repository of valuable
accessions reflects the rich heritage all South Carolinians
claim. The famed "Frenchman's View of North America"
wallpaper by Zuber graces the walls of the Palmetto
Dining Room. With the expansion of the room during renovation,
more paper than available was needed. Through a donation
by the Medical University of South Carolina, more wallpaper
was secured and the room was completed. In the State
Dining Room a Shegogue portrait of a "Young Man
with Dog and Young Girl with Flowers" looms. The
portrait was a gift from the Palmetto Cabinet, the spouses
of South Carolina legislators. Adding grandeur to the
Large Drawing Room is the Steinway grand piano left
by Mrs. James F. Byrnes. Governor Byrnes gave the piano
to her as a birthday gift while in office.
Pieces made by South Carolina craftsmen emphasize the
skillful talents of our citizens. The State Dining Room
of the Mansion features a handsome new table and chairs
made by Columbia furnituremaker Michael Craig. His design
is also visible in the Library where his mantel and
bookcases can be seen. Creations of other craftsmen
can be found. An 1845 crock made by Edgefield potter
T.M. Chandler and a piece of modern Catawba pottery
by Cindy Allen represent more than 150 years of craftsmanship
in our state.
Through its history, every facet of life has
been experienced within the Mansion walls. There was
jubilation as one of Governor Benjamin R. Tillman's
seven children was born - the only baby to be born in
the Mansion. There was sadness upon the death of Governor
Joseph Harley, the only Governor to pass away in the
Mansion and be laid in state there. Celebration surrounded
the weddings of Governor Martin F. Ansel's daughter,
two of Governor John G. Richards' daughters, and that
of Governor J. Strom Thurmond.
With the arrival of each new First Family came adjustments
not only for the Family, but also modifications to the
Mansion. Soon after Governor Ernest F. Hollings and
his family including four children moved in, it was
evident that more space was needed. In 1959 two upstairs
bedrooms were transformed into a nursery and a playroom
while a Family Dining Room and guest wing were added
downstairs. The day after Governor Donald S. Russell's
inauguration it was discovered that structural work
was direly needed. The Russells resided in only half
the Mansion for the next six months.
Historically, the Governor’s Mansion has undergone numerous remodeling projects. The 1999-2001 renovation was the most extensive to occur.
It is a credit to the many Governors and First Ladies
who have served the state and shared their valuable
ideas. Under the dedicated leadership of the Governor's
Mansion Commission, each decision concerning the restoration
was carefully deliberated. With the tireless efforts
of the Governor's Mansion Foundation, funds were solicited
and citizens answered the call. South Carolinians can
be proud of the multitude of citizens who have committed
themselves to transforming our Governor's Residence
into a home abounding with southern elegance. The Palmetto
State is now graced by a true Governor's Mansion.
of Columbia's gracious past, the Caldwell-Boylston House
with its stately Doric columns, flanks the north side
of the Governor's Mansion grounds. Built in 1830 by
John Caldwell, a prominent merchant and South Carolina
Railroad President, the Greek Revival home was also
occupied by Lucy and Caroline Hampton, nieces of General
Daniel H. Chamberlain purchased and resided in the home
during his administration (1874- 1876). Through personal
funding, Governor Chamberlain was responsible for the
handsome iron fence that still surrounds a major portion
of the grounds. Colonel Albert Lewis of Pennsylvania
became the owner for a time before Mrs. Sarah Porter
Boylston became its resident for over 50 years. Mrs.
Boylston was known for her extensive horticultural expertise
and the lovely parties she hosted in her garden. She
occupied the house until 1969.
In 1978, during the administration of Governor James
B. Edwards, the State purchased the Caldwell- Boylston
House from the Richland County Historic Preservation
Commission. Governor's Mansion staff and the Welcome Center
are presently located in the historic house.
Exquisite ironwork adorning the exterior double piazzas
and interior cornices of intricate design lends the
thought from which the name "Lace House" originated.
Built in 1854, it was the home of Mary Caldwell and
Thomas James Robertson. John Caldwell (original owner
of the Caldwell- Boylston House) gave the land to his
daughter as a wedding gift.
In the 1950's, the Women's Christian Temperance Union
bought the house. It was purchased by the Richland County
Historic Preservation Commission in 1965. The State
acquired The Lace House in 1968 through efforts of Mrs.
Robert McNair, First Lady, and the Governor's Mansion
Commission. Restoration of the house was completed under
the direction of Mrs. John C. West, First Lady. The
home became the official guesthouse for the state of
It is now an elegant venue rented for meetings and memorable life events.