Six Historic Columbia Neighborhoods Are Being Studied

Recollections, photographs, maps, and conversations have coalesced into meaningful histories of a handful of Columbia’s earliest neighborhoods and first suburbs, thanks to support from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and SC Humanities. Historic Columbia Foundation has had the privilege of documenting and preserving these stories and touchstones of our shared past for this unprecedented research project, which focuses on Arsenal Hill, Cottontown, Heathwood, Hollywood-Rose Hill, Lower Waverly, and Old Shandon. SC Humanities supported this project through a Major Grant in September 2009.

“Some of the most memorable moments of the work thus far have been conducting oral history interviews,” explains John Sherrer, Director of Cultural Resources for the Foundation. “The opportunity to empower folks throughout these six neighborhoods by granting them a voice in relating their stories is so meaningful to them and to us.” Retrace, Your Story Could Be Just Around the Corner, is the call to action that the Foundation has employed to encourage participation in this 3-year endeavor.

To date, stories have been chronicled in interviews from both current and former residents of all of the neighborhoods, and more will follow. Occasionally, residents have shared what they believe are commonplace photographs, that upon further inspection, greatly enhance the collective understanding of their community’s history and deepen appreciation for the nuances in each of their recollections.

Historic Columbia Foundation will be collecting and scanning images and documents related to these historic Columbia neighborhoods during several "Image Collection Days" at Fast Forward (3223 Devine Street) in Columbia. People can bring their images to be scanned and archived on the following days:

June 5, 2010, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
July 17, 2010, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
August 14, 2010, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Ultimately, all of this work will produce walking/driving tour brochures, wayside exhibits, and web-based virtual tours. Most recently, the Foundation launched its website version of the Arsenal Hill neighborhood tour, which can be accessed at Other tours will follow in the coming months inviting visitors to retrace these neighborhoods’ pasts and to consider how the approaches taken here to accessing history might be used to document other neighborhoods.

“We believe that with each aspect of the initiative that is realized, more and more people will come forward with greater amounts of materials that will help further develop these areas’ respective stories – something that will be wonderful and encouraged,” adds Sherrer.

Historic Columbia Foundation invites people to consider how they can contribute to the history of these neighborhoods under the Foundation’s study.  Please contact by Historic Columbia Foundation’s Director of Cultural Resources, John Sherrer, at 803.252.1770 ext. 28 or for further information on how to participate.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations.

Image: Members of J.P. Holley Funeral Home pose in front of their business’ vehicles within the Lower Waverly neighborhood, circa-1945.  Image courtesy J.P. Holley Funeral Home